When Diageo took over Bushmills distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2005, sales volumes had been flat for over 10 years. The new owners set a goal to reach 1 million cases by the end of 2012 and set about investing (to the tune of around €45 million) in the distillery itself as well as the brand. Diageo increased the production rate to five days a week and since 2008, they have implemented a seven-day week. This tripled production in just 2.5 years.
Bushmills uses two kinds of malt, one unpeated and one slightly peated. The distillery uses triple distillation, something they've done since the 1930s. The core range of single malts consists of a 10 year old, a 16 year old with a finish in port pipes for 6–9 months and a 21 year old finished in Madeira casks for two years. There is also a 12 year old Distillery Reserve which is sold exclusively at the distillery. Black Bush and Bushmills Original are the two main blended whiskeys in the range.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary, a Bushmills 1608 Anniversary Edition was launched. The malt whiskey part was distilled using a proportion of crystal malt (malted barley which has been dried at a high temperature whilst the grains are still moist, thus partly converting the grain’s starch into sugars and caramelising them). This special ingredient gives the blend distinct toffee/chocolatey notes.
The grain whiskey used for Bushmills blended whiskeys is, in fact, bought from Midleton distillery in Cork which is owned by arch-rival Pernod Ricard.