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Bushmills vs Proper 12: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Bushmills vs Proper 12 in this head to head comparison and decide which Irish Whiskey is better for You!

Bushmills The Original

  • Nose: Apple, grape, alcohol
  • Palate: Apple, toasted cereal, sugar, vanilla, oak
  • Finish: Short, oak spice, caramel
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Cocktails
  • Similar to: Powers, Sexton


The nose brings an apple note, followed by a hint of grapes and a bit of alcohol coming behind, but nothing too severe.

On the palate, the Bushmills feels thin lacking in body. The first sip brings an apple juice flavor, with hints of toasted cereal, sugar, vanilla and oak.

The finish is short-lived, with oak spice bitterness, yet balanced against a charred caramel note that saves the day.

Is it good?

Not a lot going on here, there is nothing wrong with this budget whiskey as it does not have any offensive tasting notes nor anything to write home about.

Definitely not something to sip neat, although it gets somewhat better on the rocks and becomes serviceable when looking for something affordable to make cocktails.

Bushmills 12 facts:

  • Bushmills is the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, when in 1608, King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips, a local land owner, the license to craft spirits. Although The Old Bushmills Distillery Company was established until 1784.
  • The company is owned by Jose Cuervo from Mexico, the largest producer of tequila in the world. When Cuervo sold Don Julio Tequila to Diageo it received cash and Bushmills in exchange.

Proper 12

  • Nose: Caramel, floral, vanilla
  • Palate: Ripe fruit, caramel, oak spice
  • Finish: Orange, caramel, oak
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Rocks
  • Similar to: Slane, Jack Daniel’s


The nose kicks-off with a blast of vanilla, followed by hints of caramel and a floral note.

On the palate, the body feels a bit thin lacking in body. Flavor provides ripe fruit up-front, followed by caramel and bit of black pepper but nothing too severe.

The finish has a decent length, with very little to no burn, leaving a nice aftertaste of orange, caramel and a tad of oak.

Is it good?

Proper 12 is surprisingly smooth and sweet. “Surprisingly” as I was expecting a rougher whiskey coming from the much beloved Conor McGregor.

There is nothing remarkable about Proper 12 but nor off-putting. It drinks easy making a good beginner’s whiskey as it does not have any challenging tasting note.

This is so smooth that you can drink it either neat or rocks or use it in a mixer to make cocktails.

This whiskey has gained notoriety due to Conor McGregor’s sponsorship.

McGregor partnered with Ken Austin, who sold Avion Tequila to Pernod Ricard and is also the man behind Dwayne the Rock Johnson’s Teremana Tequila.

Proper 12 facts:

  • Proper 12 receives its name from Dublin 12, the area in which he grew up.
  • Conor McGregor partnered with Ken Austin (former Avion Tequila and the man behind Teremana Tequila).
  • Proper 12 will be donating $5 of every case (12 bottles) sold to first responders around the world – up to $1 million annually.

What do Bushmills and Proper 12 have in common?

Both whiskeys are crafted at the Bushmills Distillery

These whiskeys are produced at the Bushmills Distillery just outside Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

That distillery has been in continuous operation since 1608 and is currently owned by Mexico’s Jose Cuervo, the largest tequila producer in the world.

Are Bushmills and Proper 12 the same whiskey?

There are enough contrasts in flavor to make them different

They are produced using the same mash but they are likely going through different barrel management to make them different as there flavor profiles are entirely contrasting.

Bushmills vs Proper 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Bushmills The Original$27
Proper 12$30

Bushmills vs Proper 12: Which is better?

Proper 12 is a smoother whiskey than Bushmills

WhiskeyBushmills Proper 12
  • The Proper 12 is an easy drinker, perhaps too easy making a dull dram for a experienced aficionado. But if you are new to Irish Whiskey or liquors in general this is a good place to start as it does not have any off-putting notes.
  • Bushmills has some bitter notes that make it a better choice when looking for a whiskey to make cocktails, but is definitely not good on its own.

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