Last Updated on December 29, 2022 by Lydia Martin
You’re probably reading this because you want to know which Irish whiskey bottle you should buy or which Irish whiskey cocktail you would better enjoy at your go-to bar.
Our team spent the entire week learning all about these two brands — from aroma and taste to pricing — to give you an in-depth comparison. Here’s Bushmills vs Jameson!
Comparing Jameson & Bushmills Irish Whiskeys
Both Bushmills and Jameson are some of the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey brands, with Irish whiskey making a serious splash in the US market today. They are made using cereal grains and triple distilled. As a result, both spirits are warm, smooth, and slightly sweet.
Both brands carry blended Irish whiskey — single-malt barley and grain whiskeys. The price point of blended whiskey is more on the affordable side (less than $30 per 750ml bottle).
A Closer Look At Their Differences
The Bushmills Distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, is probably the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. It started legally producing whiskey in 1608 when a local landowner named Sir Thomas Philips was granted a royal license by King James II.
Its location has led it to be dubbed Protestant whiskey due to Protestant-rich Northern Ireland.
However, if we’re truly being anal, the oldest licensed distillery was only built by Hugh Anderson in 1784 and has since been continually in the business, surviving even the Irish independence and American Prohibition.
On the other hand, John Jameson, whose wife’s father was in the whiskey business, established Jameson Distillery in Dublin in 1780.
In as little as two decades, Jameson became the first Irish whiskey selling at number one worldwide. The Jamesons became the most important distilling family in Ireland.
Country of Origin
Both Jameson and Bushmills have Irish roots, with the biggest distilleries inside Ireland.
However, between Jameson vs Bushmills, it’s worth noting that the founder of Jameson Irish Whiskey wasn’t Irish — he was a lawyer from Alloa, Scotland.
All Irish whiskeys must be made from a 100 percent mash bill, as per the Irish whiskey regulations.
A Bushmills bottle is made from 55 percent single-malt barley, grown in Cork, Southern Ireland. It is blended with water drawn from Saint Columb’s Rill, a tributary of the River Bush. The other 45 percent is grain whiskey, procured from the nearby Midleton Distillery.
On the flip side, Jameson is a blended whiskey made from locally-sourced grains: 20 percent malted and unmalted barley, or single pot still whiskey, and 80 percent maize, or grain whiskey.
It is blended with Irish water from the Dungourney River.
Both brands are triple-distilled.
The Bushmills Distillery is home to ten big pot stills and six spirit safes that perform the spirit’s triple distillation.
The whiskey is distilled to 25 to 30 percent ABV on the first go and 70 to 80 percent ABV on the second and third distillation. It is then diluted with water to 63 percent before being put inside the barrel to age.
Similarly, Jameson uses a triple distillation process for their special blend of rich pot still whiskey and grain whiskey for a smooth profile.
Both labels are aged for at least three years, as mandated by the Irish whiskey regulations.
Bushmills is aged in four different types of barrels: ex-bourbon, oloroso sherry, port, and Madeira, before being bottled.
One of their youngest, Bushmills Original is aged for at least five years in American bourbon and Oloroso sherry wine casks. Their specialty bottles have a longer aging period (10 to 21 years).
On the other hand, Jameson Irish Whiskey ages for no less than four years in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks (longer for specialty bottles). The Bow Street variant is aged for no less than 18 years.
Alcohol By Volume
Both brands are bottled at 40 percent ABV or 80 proof.
Manufacturers & Ownership
Today, the entire Bushmills Whiskey is owned and operated by tequila giant Jose Cuervo, after years of being under Diageo. Production and manufacturing remain in the Old Bushmills Distillery.
In 1988, Pernod Ricard obtained Jameson Whiskey after acquiring Irish Distillers Limited as a subsidiary.
Bushmills’ blend of single-malt barley and grain whiskeys results in an Irish whiskey as smooth as honey, with flavor notes of sweet cherry, vanilla, and a touch of spice notes.
Jameson’s blend has bolder flavor notes, with oak, coconut, vanilla, and chocolate taking center stage on the tongue. Surprisingly, it remains light and delicate. But is Jameson whiskey really good?
Jameson has a smoky charcoal finish laced with sweet and spicy notes thanks to the ex-bourbon casks.
Bushmills takes a step in the opposite direction by being lemony and bright, laced with vanilla undertones.
What sets Bushmills apart from Jameson is its hints of citrus and fruits on the nose, alongside the sweet malt and cereals.
Conversely, Jameson is a lot more woodsy, with an oak richness and a short note of figs.
Jameson is a lot darker in the glass than Bushmills, its hue similar to that of deep copper. On the other hand, Bushmills is a medium yellow, much like molten gold.
Calories Per Serving
Both brands vary very little in calories per serving (we’re talking about the standard 1.5 fluid ounces). Jameson contains 104 calories per serving, only slightly more than Bushmills’ 98 calories.
Aside from Bushmills Original (a blend of grain whiskey and single-malt whiskey), other blended whiskeys include Bushmills Black Bush and Red Bush.
Their specialty bottles, including the 10, 16, and 21-Year-Old, are all single-malts made at a single distillery. For their 400th Anniversary in 2008, they released a limited edition bottle. 
On the other hand, Jameson Whiskey understands that each individual’s palate and tastes vary. They carry Cold Brew for the coffee lovers, Black Barrel for that added charred flavor, and Caskmates finished in craft IPA bottles.
They also offer flavored variants like the Orange and Lime in a Can for those laidback whiskey drinkers.
Read: Jameson vs Tullamore Dew
Bushmills and Jameson are more or less within the same price range (less than $30 per 750ml of their original labels).
Which is better for sipping neat, Jameson or Bushmills?
Both Jameson and Bushmills are excellent sipping whiskeys, but we have to give this round to Bushmills. Bushmills had a lot more interesting flavor nuances that we quite enjoyed dissecting, like citrus, sweet cherry, and vanilla.
On the other hand, Jameson was a bit of a one-note, yet still quite good. It remained smooth and mellow, best for whiskey beginners looking to get their foot into the spirit.
Is Bushmills smoother than Jameson?
We couldn’t decide whether Bushmills is smoother than Jameson, and we owe that to the brands’ intricate triple-distillation process. One thing’s for sure, though — these Irish whiskeys are a lot smoother than most American whiskeys (which tend only to be double-distilled).
Final Thoughts: Bushmills vs Jameson
Both Bushmills and Jameson are premium quality brands that remain affordable, perfect for the growing popularity of Irish whiskey in the American market.
However, we have to give this round to Bushmills, and all because of its use of single-malt barley — signature to Irish whiskey.
At a time when most whiskeys are made from more affordable grains like corn and wheat, Bushmills stuck to its guns and is the only Irish distillery still using malted barley in all its whiskeys.
However, this is not to say that Jameson isn’t a great whiskey! After all, there’s a reason why it’s the number one selling Irish whiskey globally — it’s because it’s that good. It simply boils down to taste preference.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.