New look for centuries-old tipple
The first woman to take on the mystic role of master blender at Ireland's oldest distillery has unveiled a new look for the 400 year-old tipple.
Helen Mulholland broke into one of whiskey's oldest boys' clubs when she was appointed to the coveted role at Bushmills, Co Antrim.
The 38-year-old mother of one from nearby Portstewart has now turned another tradition on its head, helping to design a modern bottle for the ancient single malt.
Mrs Mulholland revealed the design, which is embossed with Bushmills original 1608 license to distil, to an exclusive gathering of international whiskey experts at London's famous Irish bar, Waxy O'Connor's.
Seventeen years after joining Bushmills, the master blender said she is still learning the trade.
"Master blenders have been working in the Bushmills area for more than four centuries and I am lucky enough to have access to all the recipes and see all the work they done down through the years.
"I am a scientist but you soon learn that when the whiskey goes into the cask it becomes an art.
"The techniques we use now are basically the same as they were four centuries ago, just the equipment is a bit more high tech."
The bottle rebranding comes at the close of an unprecedented year of success for the Irish brand, with its 10, 16 and 21 year old malts all winning gold medal recognition at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
The 21-year-old was also named the World's Best Irish Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards.