We start the day going to the Old Bushmill Distillery – the oldest distillery in Ireland (Note: they claim to be the worlds oldest).
If you are planning on trying to make this beverage – it is a long process. First they take the raw barley and soak it in water. This is called the germination process and it converts the starch in to sugar. Then the barley is dried with a big blow dryer to stop the germination process. Now the barley is malted. The next step involves running the malted barley through a big coffee grinder. The malted barley is ground up in hot water as it goes through the coffee grinder. The sugar is released into the liquid which is called a “wash.” Next the wash is filtered to take out any hard remnants. The hard remnants are given to the cows (very happy cows :).
Finally, the distillery has a big bucket of malted barley sugar water. Yeast is added to the liquid which will convert the sugar into alcohol. This causes the liquid to become beer, which is called “wort”. The Distillery does not want beer, they want Whiskey. To make Whiskey from beer, the liquid is taken to the Distiller where it will be distilled three times to get a cleaner, more pure alcohol. The alcohol level increases to 65 percent.
Now it is time to put the distilled alcohol into American Oak Barrels and let the liquid sit for ten years or longer. Some times the distilled liquid will be moved from the American Oak barrels to the Spanish Sherry barrels to get a darker and slightly sweeter flavored whiskey. After the ten years of sitting 30% of the whiskey evaporates. The evaporated portion is called the “angels share”. Even more of the alcohol evaporates if you let it sit longer, making the final product rare and more expensive .
From the barrels the whiskey will go to the bottling factory and then to the store shelves. Bushmill is a mega size distillery, what the small distilleries bottle in a year, Bushmill bottles in a week.
Scotland and Ireland have the perfect temperature for making great whiskey. It is never to hot, it’s never to cold, and according to experts, the sea breeze adds a salt, seaweed, and brine flavor to the whiskey. I was told that you should get the 10 year old single malt. The blend is supposed to be sweet and for “sissy-people”. Of course the 10 year old single malt also costs more. 🙂
After the tour of Bushmill, we head to The Giants Causeway. When we get there we walk in side the information center and by tickets for $5 per person. We paid up and go see the Giants Causeway.
People think the Giant’s Causeway is too big to have been built by humans. That is why it is called the Giants Causeway. The giant who gets the credit for this causeway is named Finn MacCool. Finn MacCool was walking around when a Scottish giant named Benandonner started teasing him by sticking his tongue out at him and calling him a sissy. Finn got extremely angry and spent the rest of the day and night throwing rocks into the ocean to build a causeway to scotland. After throwing all those rocks, Finn got his shield and warrior axe and ran across the causeway.
When Finn got to Scotland he started looking for Benandonner. But when Finn saw Benandoner, he shrunk with terror. Finn was deceived by Benandoner’s size by just looking at him across the ocean. Benandoner was gigantic. 🙂 Finn ran in horror, racing back to his house. Finn lost one of his shoes running back and it is still there today. When Finn got to his house he told his wife Oonagh and she came up with an ingenious idea to help Finn.
While Benandonner crossed the bridge looking for Finn, Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and tucked him in a cradle. When Benandonner came, Oonagh told him that Finn was out woodcutting, but he should be back soon. She showed him ‘Finn’s son’. When Benandonner saw the size of the baby, he had no desire to see the father!!! Benandonner fled home in terror and destroyed the causeway so Finn could not come looking for him.
That’s the story but scientist seem to think otherwise. Scientists say that millions of years ago there was volcanic activity going on in Oreland and as the lava cooled it formed giant Columns like a bunch of stacked up pencils. The Giant story is better.
After the causeway we head to Carrick-a-rede, a rope bridge built 350 years ago. Fishermen would throw ropes to the small island to get to the best place to catch salmon. That was the start of the bridge. When we get there we park pay up and then we hike to the bridge and get in line.
Finally it’s our turn to walk over the bridge. It’s a 800ft drop down in to the rocky sea. If our mother knew she would not be happy.
When we get to the end Julian is taking really sassy bird steps holding up the whole line, the man inside of the little hut is yelling on the microphone HURRY UP!!! If our mom was there she would have something to say to him! 🙂
Finally we make it to the little island.
Parts of the island get close to the water but if you go higher up it’s a shear drop down. I am pretty sure my mom would object to this and recommend a post card at the gift shop before the bridge.
After all that danger we hike back to the car and hit the road to Portrush. On the way there we drive past a old fort .When we arrive at Portrush we end the day by going to The Harbour Bistro. After all of our adventures we are ready for some food.