“Pic of the Week”, December 12, 2014: Bushmill’s, Northern Ireland

Antrimi Coast 95 Bushmill’s Distillery

On April 20th, 1608, King James I granted a license to distill whiskey at what is now Bushmills Distillery, which claims to be—and likely is —the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

Besides a tour of the distillery and an education on the process of making triple-distilled whiskey, there are a few features I remember quite vividly about visiting Bushmills.  First, that the Irish don’t produce their own oak aging barrels — they buy them used, mostly from bourbon distillers in the southern USA and sherry growers in Spain (imparting some of the color and flavor of the original product to Bushmills).  Beyond that I was very impressed by the profund British influence in Northern Ireland.  Witness the typical English phone booth and mailbox in these …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 10) the Antrim Coast

Antrimi Coast 005d Dunluce Castle

Rivaling the magnificent Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry for scenic beauty, the Antrim Coast is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations.  We’ve previously discussed Portrush and the Giant’s Causeway on this blog, both attractions located on this stretch of Ireland’s coast; now we’ll look at some of the other places to enjoy on the Antrim Coast.

It’s fair to say that a major attraction here is the coast itself — simply driving along it to enjoy its scenic beauty, as we did.  You can travel along the Antrim Coast most of the way from Portrush to Belfast, although most would agree that the very northern part just east of Portrush is the most …

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 9) the Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway 071  On the Giant’s Causeway

How can you resist visiting a geologic formation created by giants?  I couldn’t!  Situated on a five mile stretch of Northern Ireland’s rugged Antrim coast, the Giant’s Causeway is well worth going out of your way to see.  In fact, visiting it was the main reason we came to Northern Ireland on this trip.

The Causeway is comprised of an interlacing honeycomb of some 40,000 basalt columns of varying heights, mostly of hexagonal-shape but some pieces being five and seven-sided.  These columns are arranged in a stair-like fashion that’s fun to walk on and explore.

Geologists tell us these columns are due to ancient volcanic eruptions some 60 million years ago, with lava cooling under the right conditions

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A Visit to Ireland: Part 8) Northern Ireland overview and Portrush

002 Portrush Harbor 2013

Our Irish journey took us from the western part of the Republic further north and into a different country, Northern Ireland.  Make no mistake about it, Northern Ireland is a very different country than the Republic of Ireland.  For example, its currency is the British pound, not the Euro, and the economy of Northern Ireland is strongly tied to the United Kingdom (which it is a province of) and much less to the European Union than the Irish Republic.  Speed limits are posted in mph instead of kmph, and you’ll find those classic bright red British mailboxes and telephone booths everywhere.  Beyond the superficial stuff you’ll meet a people who are more traditional and Protestant (members of the Church of …

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