Making Nectar Of The Gods

They were distilling spirits on the banks of the River Bush in Northern Ireland's County Antrim five centuries before the American Revolution.

In 1608, Bushmills Distillery was granted a license to do what it had been doing anyway. While the technology has become more sophisticated, both the process and the product remain very much as they were back then.

Today, visitors can tour Bushmills Distillery and see it all. It takes about a half hour to view the process, starting where the water is drawn from the River Bush, through distilling and fermenting, to where that wonderful amber liquid is transferred from aging casks to Bushmills distinctive, world-famous tall square bottles.

You can even sample a dram or two at the Poststill Bar at tour's end. It's a popular tourist stop along the Antrim coast, so it is advisable to call and book your spot in advance.

While you're in the neighborhood, don't miss Dunluce Castle and the fabled Giant's Causeway - three miles of tightly packed, geometrically-shaped basalt columns that start at the coast and disappear into the sea.

If you're a golfer, the Royal Portrush links where they played the British Open for the only time in Ireland in 1951 is less than five miles away. The best place to stay is Bushmills Inn, only a few blocks from the distillery.

To get there, take the A-26 north out of Belfast to Coleraine and follow the signs to Portrush and then to Bushmills. To reserve a place for the distillery guided tour, phone 44-012657-31521 or stop by the tour center right by the parking lot. To book a room at Bushmills Inn, call 44-012657-32339.

Rob Armstrong is the author of the travel guide Golfing in Ireland, published by Pelican. His next book, Golfing The Virginias, will be published in 1999.

By Rob Armstrong©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed