The Busker is in a relatively unique position as a new brand to the whiskey scene. They produce their own whiskey, came onto the market with four expressions—one for each type of Irish whiskey, and are available at a budget. Being owned by Disaronno certainly helps matters, but it’s still surprising to see a new Irish player of this nature. And when I say they’re available at a budget, I mean that you can buy every bottle of their lineup for just over $100.
My first exposure to The Busker was with their blended whiskey, which is the only expression in their lineup to use all three of their presently available casks: bourbon, sherry, and marsala. I found it to be an appropriately priced option with potential to stand out a bit when compared to Bushmills and Tullamore D.E.W. Yet when I want Irish whiskey, 90% of the time I’m reaching for single pot still. The Busker’s take is part of their Single Collection, matured and finished in bourbon and sherry casks, bottled at 44.3% ABV, and carrying an MSRP of roughly $35.
Nose: Yeast. Fruit section of a farmer’s market. Dried pear and green apple. Floral with chamomile and orange blossom. Raisins, light caramel, and maybe banana chips.
Palate: Buttery upfront flavor—treading flan-like territory, followed by a wave of honey. Silky vanilla and dried apple snacks take center stage. Pear and banana flavors become more defined on the front after a couple sips. Light mouthfeel overall with some oiliness.
Finish: Mild, wavering spice component with lightly drying and metallic sensation. Hints of vanilla and black pepper amidst a lingering air of pear and raisin.
I’ve gone back and forth on this bottle more than I care to admit. This isn’t so much due to the whiskey itself, but more its position in a particular part of the Irish whiskey market. At roughly half the cost of Redbreast 12-Year, it’s one of the least expensive single pot still bottles I’ve seen locally. What’s more is I found my bottle marked down to $15, which is practically a no-brainer when, like me, you enjoy exploration for exploration’s sake. My hopes were that The Busker Single Pot Still would stir the pot (pun not intended) by being an affordable option that could hold its own. That’s where evaluating this whiskey became such a challenge.
The Busker Single Pot Still is, for better or worse, an example of getting what you pay for. My experience with each pour was always one of contentment, but never engagement. The youthful characteristics are apparent without distracting in an overly negative way. Light, delicate sweetness meets a level of spice that’s both tangible and marginal. As far as demonstrating what single pot still Irish whiskey is like, it’s just perceptible enough to note, but far from the best example. Those looking for a more affordable introduction to this ubiquitous style of Irish whiskey won’t necessarily be steered wrong by selecting The Busker, but I’d be lying if I said it’s an ideal first step.