Cheers to 400 years of Bushmills
A year-long programme of celebrations is under way to mark the 400th anniversary of one of Ulster's most famous brands, Bushmills Irish Whiskey.
The original licence to distil whiskey was granted to the Bushmills area of Co Antrim - or 'the territory of the Rowte' as it was then called - in 1608.
And Diageo, the global drinks giant which now owns the famous brand, has promised a full measure of activities to celebrate the 400th anniversary.
First up is the release of a special edition whiskey called, naturally, Bushmills 1608.
The tipple is "a unique blend of tradition and innovation", according to Bushmills master distiller Colum Egan (pictured above, insert)
He explained it combines some classic features of Bushmills whiskeys, such as triple distillation, with a pioneering process of distillation using crystal malt, a special type of malted barley selected to deliver " exceptional smoothness".
Bushmills 1608 will go on general release in Ireland, north and south, from next month until the end of 2008. In subsequent years it will only be available in travel retail outlets and at the distillery itself.
The birthday celebrations will also be marked by a new advertising campaign, new anniversary packaging and sponsorship of the Ireland rugby team.
Further activities, including a big party for workers at the distillery, and product innovations, will be flowing throughout this year.
Mr Egan said: "The 400th anniversary represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for Bushmills. The Old Bushmills Distillery is the only surviving historical distillery still in full operation in Ireland.
"The special edition Bushmills 1608 blend gives us the opportunity to offer every Bushmills fan something special to celebrate our heritage and toast our future in this special year. "