Bushmill’s or Jameson’s? It’s a big difference.

March 17, 2009 | admin

Happy St. Patrick's Dayimages

All of my knowledge of whiskey comes from the years I spent tending bar while in journalism school. My first St. Patty’s day at the pub was a dark affair. We only had Jameson’s, and we seriously offended a bunch of beer-drunk Irish Protestants. That was the first and last time I was pulled over the bar and deposited on my rear.

The second year we only had Black Bush and seriously offended the majority of our Catholic Irish brothers who obscenely opened their own smuggled-in bottles of Jameson’s and refused to share unless other patrons could prove their Irish ancestry. I’ll let you decide how the proof was preferred.

And so my education into the nuances of Irish whiskey went. From year to year I learned more about the preferences of the different religious groups in Ireland and abroad as well as the subtle differences in styles. And, I learned to carry both Bushmill’s and Jameson’s and to feature them prominently and equally on St. Patty’s Day.

So, while it is safer to stick to beer on St. Patrick’s Day, if you should choose whiskey, know who you are about to drink with, and if you can’t discern their religious preferences by appearance, and there is no reason you should, be sensitive enough to ask before you buy them a shot of Irish whiskey, then you’ll know their religious preference as well, and you can steer clear of those risky topics.

Or just drink Scotch.



  1. Turns says:


    Sorry to tell you dude but Saint Patrick’s day (along with other Saint days) is not exclusively Catholic.

    “Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official CHRISTIAN feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland),[4] the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of CHRISTIANITY in Ireland.”

  2. Rob says:

    Know what I would do f I were you. An this will test a fans loyalty. Clean and rinse both an empty Jameson and Bushmills bottle. Fill an empty Jameson’s bottle with Bushmills and vise versa. An see what’ll happen oh I bet it’ll be funny. Me I am Catholic, but I like both sorry, but they are both great Irish Whiskey.

  3. Roisin says:

    Being of half Irish heritage, but my religion being Roman Catholic by birth, thanks to my Mom and Sicilian side of the family, I don’t know which one I SHOULD drink! I don’t think my Irish ancestors were Catholic, but probably originated in Scotland and settled in Ireland, because my surname is definitely Irish (with no O’ or Mc to distinguish). I just bought a bottle of Bushmill’s today because my supermarket had it on sale, and Jameson’s was sold out. I will drink a toast to all the Christian religions on Saint Patrick’s Day! I’m using it for Irish Coffee anyway, which could start another dispute on which recipe to use! Slainte!

  4. Steve W says:

    I would go for Jamesons, not quite so dry as Bushmills and a slightly less burn.But with one supermarket of Irish connections offering Bushmills at a tenner a bottle, I have well and truly stocked up and will be drinking Bushmills for a good while yet.

  5. S.Foley says:

    The Jameson and Bushmills thing really isn’t as big a deal as people think. It’s usually people who haven’t got a clue and learned about being Irish from watch St.Patricks day parades that put them into these categories. As an Irish man born and raised in Ireland I have found most places north and south to only differ on what they stock on what sales rep visits them most. I personally like Jameson best but have no qualms about drinking Bushmills if there is no Jameson is available, which can be quite common in different bars in the North of Ireland especially.

  6. Jim Murphy says:

    Actually the religion thing is due to the location of the distilleries. While Bushmills is in the North and Jameson in the middle (although the Republic of Ireland) it has led to one being know as a Protestant whiskey (Bushmills) and Jameson as Catholic. This is really not true, In fact if you went back to the original history and religious beliefs of the original owners you would be surprised to find just the opposite is true. Both are now owned by large conglomerates so it makes little difference with regards to either. Although Jameson has a heck of an advertising promotion in the U.S. and is the most popular Irish Whiskey in the world along with a huge capacity in their distillery they actually contract some of their capacity to……… guessed it Bushmills. Me I prefer Bushmills but if the bar doesn’t have it I’ll gladly drink Jameson

  7. Rick says:

    Both Bushmills and Jameson were until recently owned by the same company. Bushmills is now owned by another. I’m American with Scottish ancestry, so I don’t have an axe to grind. I’m protestant, but most of my friends are catholic. I like Bushmills better, even better than Scotch whiskey. My wife bought me Black Bush and Single Malt Bushmills, and was very unhappy since I knew that I’d probably develop a taste for it and not be satified with my inexpensive Bushmills.

  8. George says:


    You are so right. But what I cannot understand is the bar I was in today that had Bushmills advertised through out the place for St. Patrick’s Day which as Paul has correctly stated is a Catholic not a protestant holiday. Really confused me.

  9. paul says:

    i am pretty sure the protestant irish you had in your bar had union sympathy and don’t give a shamrock about st. patrick’s day, they were just trying to make trouble. saint days are a catholic tradition and any protestant irishman who was just enjoying the day would probably not have cared what he was drinking. if you have to defer it should be to the catholics on this day.
    when all is said and done i should pay attention to the words of the song pog ma thoin at and be a little more tolerant. best of luck.

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