Whiskey drinking experiences in Ireland
Surprisingly for the world renown of Irish whiskey there are very few historic distilleries that have managed to stay in continuous operation but the recent boom of craft distillers have been a welcome addition to the Irish whiskey portfolio.
In the 1920s, prohibition took out the huge US market and when the bootleggers’ bathtub-brewed ‘Irish’ whiskey caused large-scale blindness, the reputation of Irish whiskey suffered dramatically. Finally, the Scottish whisky distilleries moved in and aggressively brought the Irish whiskey industry to its knees.
This unfortunate tale left only a handful of distilleries standing. Luckily, in recent years the craft movement has also benefitted Irish whiskey and small batch distilleries are popping up everywhere to complement the big hitters. However, there are more than enough excellent distillery visits to tick the box of any amber enthusiasts coming the island.
Jameson Distillery Bow St. – this attraction recently got a full makeover and now it’s startlingly hi-tech and just as trendy. Making up for the fact that it’s not a working distillery – production moved to the Midleton site in County Cork in 1975 – they have spared no expense in the interactive telling of the Jamesons story. The bars are also very cool spaces that entice you to stay for a few post-tour drams and whiskey cocktails. The investment is a gamble that worked as the Jamesons brand and whiskey distilling process is brought to life in a hands-on manner.
Jameson Distillery Midleton - Like it's predecessor in Dublin this site stopped making whiskey and morphed into a great whiskey attraction. Again, you won't see whiskey being distilled here but the tours are more evocative than those in Dublin with the tour taking place through olde timey industrial warehouses. If in County Cork, we'd recommend this over Dublin as it's more of an experience.
Teelings Distillery – Perhaps spotting a gap in the market, the Teelings Distillery opened in 2015 to become Dublin’s first new distillery in over 125 years and the city’s only working distillery. The tour is a short and sweet with the usual aspects of a distillery tour of the process, history and comparative tasting at the end. This is a real success story and it’s well advised to book online to avoid disappointment.
Old Bushmills Distillery – a Northern Irish distillery that really benefits from its proximity to the Giant's Causeway. Just a ten minute drive to the south in the town of Bushmills they have been making whiskey at the same site since 1784, making this Ireland’s oldest working distillery. A real working distillery you get to look into all the distillery processes close up with very lovely guides. There’s also a decent restaurant on-site which makes a great refreshment stop on a North Antrim Coast drive. Finally, plan your trip as there are no pre-bookings for individuals and no tours on Sunday mornings.
Dingle Distillery – this little gem of a distillery looking out into a bay on the Dingle Peninsula is certainly the most scenic of its kind in Ireland. It’s a distillery you would expect to brew the Shire’s whiskey for Bilbo Baggins and Hobbiton. Dingle Distillery is also the most up-close-and-personal experience you get to clamber through the little working distillery on walkways with a real human guide. It’s the only place on this list where you feel like you have the ability to be able to cause an industrial disaster. The distillery is just as famous for its gin and vodka and you have a choice of tasting at the end. Depending on the time of the year there are between two and five tours a day.
Slane Distillery - this double-header of a visit lets you explore Slane Castle and the grounds as well as a brand new working distillery. A multi-million Euro creation by Brown-Forman of Jack Daniel's fame Slane Distillery merges no expense spared modern features with a real Irish country distillery. All in all it's a really polished visit in a great location and well worth a trip to the Boyne Valley for.