Whiskey and Golf in Ireland
Meet the master distiller and head raconteur at Old Bushmills
Scotland isn't the only place where golf and whiskey meet. Next time you're in Northern Ireland, after a round at Royal Portrush, stop by the Old Bushmills Distillery, just five miles away. Once you've taken a tour and revived with a dram in the bar, ask to meet Colum Egan, the master distiller. Egan, 37, is so passionate about his job that, if at all possible, he'll happily share with you what he knows. "He's a very personable chap," says Kirk Shorter, a bartender at the distillery. "He always finds time to stand and chat." Egan oversees every aspect of production, from malting to mashing to maturation. He tastes the whiskey at every stage (alas, mostly just with his nose). Bushmills, founded in 1608, is Ireland's oldest distillery and the only one that gives public tours of its works. Egan has held court here for four and a half years; before that, he made breakfast cereal and worked in a brewery. On Saturdays and long Irish summer evenings, he can usually be found on one of the area's many spectacular links. "I've got the best job in the world, and some of the best golf courses in the world are on my doorstep," says Egan, who is a five-handicap. "Every man in Ireland envies me."
Old Bushmills Distillery Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; 011-44/282-073-3218, bushmills.com. Tours: MondaySaturday, 9:305:30; Sunday, 125:30 (last tour at four o'clock each day).