Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by Lydia Martin
As avid whiskey enthusiasts, we’ve spent countless evenings savoring the rich and decadent flavors of many Irish whiskeys. Bushmills and Tullamore D.E.W. are slowly moving up the ranks and garnering loyal fans.
If you’re curious to know which is the better choice for your home bar, stick around – we’ve gathered around to sip them, and we’ll talk about the distinctive characteristics and subtle nuances that ultimately make one the better drink.
Ready? Here’s our take on today’s whiskey battle: Bushmills vs Tullamore D.E.W.
Tullamore DEW & Bushmills Irish Whiskey Compared
When comparing Tullamore D.E.W and Bushmills, there are similarities and differences.
Firstly, both brands are crafted in Ireland, meaning they are more fragrant and subtle on the palate than the whiskey bourbon we’re accustomed to in the US. Both have a standard ABV of 40%.
Their main difference lies in their heritage and historical impact. Old Bushmills’ location in Northern Ireland is known to be the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, with official records dating back to 1608 with King James I.
This heritage is a testament to their centuries of experience and craftsmanship passed down through generations.
On the flip side, the Tullamore D.E.W. Distillery was established in 1829 by the Molloy family. It later came into the hands of Daniel Edmund Williams (D.E.W.), a stable boy who worked for the distillery.
“Tullamore D.E.W: a timeless flavor that tells the story of Ireland.” – Liquor Laboratory
The spirits’ aging process is done in refill barrels, ex-bourbon casks, and ex-sherry casks. Today, Scotland-based company William Grant & Sons owns the label of this liquor.
Tullamore DEW vs Bushmills Cheat Sheet
|Brand Origin||Northern Ireland||Tullamore, Ireland|
|Type||Irish whiskey||Irish whiskey|
|Distillery Location||Bushmills, Northern Ireland||Tullamore, Ireland|
|Mash Bill||100% malted barley||Three types: |
1. 100% malted barley
2. Pot still whiskey
3. Grain alcohol
|Aging Process & Age||Around 5 years||Around 3 years|
|Alcohol by Volume||40%||40%|
|Price Range||Around $30||Around $40|
|Core Range Products||Blends, Single Malt Whiskies, Cask Finish range, and other limited releases||Original blended, Single Malts, and Special Reserves|
|Awards||Best Irish Single Malt Whiskey, World Whiskies Awards (2007)||Irish Whiskey Taste Master, Irish Whiskey Masters (2021)|
|How To Drink||Neat, on the rocks||In cocktails|
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Quick History: Bushmills whiskey holds the prestigious title of being the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, with its origins tracing back to 1608 when King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips the license to produce spirits.
More than 400 years later, whiskey continues to blend and flow within its stills, a testament to the world about its enduring craft passed down through generations.
Nose: Gentle fruit, apple, grape, and a hint of alcohol
Palate: Thin body, with toasted cereal, sugar, vanilla, spice, and oak notes
Finish: Short and spicy, with oak, caramel, vanilla, and spice
Our First Sip: Our initial impression was that it was thin and lacked complexity on the palate. It’s not the best Irish whiskey for sipping neat, but enjoying it on the rocks/mixing it with ice greatly enhanced its appeal.
However, this whiskey is an excellent option for those who want to craft affordable cocktails, which makes it versatile. The alcohol also didn’t have any hint of off-putting flavors when sipped with ice, which made it quite pleasant.
Final Taste: It may not be the most intricate whiskey, but its approachable nature, easy-drinking profile, and budget-friendly price make it easy to enjoy on ice or mixed-in cocktails.
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
- The whiskey is aged for five years in American oak casks before it is blended with Irish Single Malt.
- The single malt brand is owned by Jose Cuervo, a prominent Mexican company and the largest Tequila producer globally. 
Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey
Quick History: The Tullamore D.E.W. brand dates back to 1829 in Tullamore, Ireland. Initially operated by the Molloy family, it eventually passed into the capable hands of Daniel Edmund Williams (D.E.W.), who had worked as a stable boy at the distillery.
Nose: Sweet and velvety, with vanilla, caramel, citrus fruit, and a subtle hint of alcohol
Palate: Slightly thin, with vanilla, caramel, and a hint of peppery spice
Finish: Slightly bitter, with a hit of caramel
Our First Sip: Our initial impression was that it might not be the best whiskey for sipping due to the peppery spice notes with a bit of caramel and the subtle bitterness on the palate.
However, the alcohol in this drink truly shone as a bold mixer in most cocktails. This is a reliable choice for people looking for the perfect alcohol base (caramel) for a mug of Irish Coffee, and it has an attractive price point, perfect for cocktails.
“Irish whiskey is the nectar of the gods. I savor the gift as I would savor an act of love.” – William Zinsser
Final Taste: It’s not a top-tier sipping whiskey by any means because of its slightly off-putting bitter notes (even with a bit of caramel), but it’s excellent in cocktails and mixing. It has a unique flavor profile and some caramel that will hold its own in Irish Coffee.
But what’s the best way to drink Tullamore D.E.W.?
Star Rating: ★★☆☆☆
- In line with Irish tradition, their whiskey undergoes a triple-distillation process.
- This whiskey is a meticulously crafted blend that combines three different types of grain whiskies: single malt, grain, and pot still whiskey.
- The alcohol is aged in a combination of refill barrels, ex-bourbon casks, and ex-sherry casks.
- Tullamore D.E.W. is currently owned by William Grant & Sons, a renowned spirits company in Scotland. 
Is Bushmills a cheap whiskey?
Yes, Bushmills is a pretty cheap whiskey, costing around $25 for a 750ml bottle. While we agree that it’s not the most complex or premium drink for your home bar, it’s a decent choice for cocktails, especially at its price point.
Which is smoother, Bushmills or Tullamore DEW whiskey?
We find Bushmills to be smoother than Tullamore D.E.W. Bushmills is known for its easy-drinking nature, which may appeal to those who want something with a mellow flavor.
Conversely, Tullamore D.E.W. has a slight bitterness and peppery spice on the palate, which may be off-putting to those seeking a gentler drinking experience. But what’s the best Irish whiskey to drink straight?
Is Tullamore DEW sweeter than Bushmills?
Both whiskeys are pretty sweet, but Bushmills is slightly sweeter than Tullamore D.E.W. Bushmills gets its sweetness primarily from vanilla and caramel notes.
Conversely, Tullamore D.E.W. has more fruit notes, like citrus, grape, and pear, but has a slightly bitter undertone.
Upon tasting both brands, the winner in today’s taste-off is none other than Bushmills.
Bushmills may be considered a budget-friendly whiskey, but it maintains an excellent quality. We favored its mellow and approachable palate and the apple, vanilla, and caramel notes.
Its smoothness makes it ideal for those who enjoy drinking milder whiskeys on the rocks or cocktails, especially those who love caramel.
While Tullamore D.E.W. is smooth, its slightly bitter undertone and peppery spice combination might not sit well with everybody. In contrast, our winner keeps it smooth and simple at an affordable price point.
Did you agree with our verdict? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off below!