Irish whiskey is booming, and Ireland can satisfy every possible whiskey tour aspiration, from intimate artisan craft distilleries to remote historic homesteads and convenient tourist destinations. Check websites and social media for tour availability and times, and book online to avoid disappointment. Operational distilleries currently without tours are listed separately, as many are likely to open their doors over the next year. Anticipated newcomers, who may or may not get further than the architect’s drawing board, are also listed.
Score A Hot Ticket
Echlinville Distillery—near Kircubbin, County Down
Pat yourself on the back if you manage to tour Shane Braniff’s Echlinville Distillery, hosting as few as 12-15 visitors per month. Jarlath Watson, always a dapper gent in his tweeds, will have a tasty libation on hand: maybe a dram of Dunville’s Irish whiskey, Jawbox Belfast Cut Classic dry gin, or the Echlinville Single Estate Irish Pot Still gin. We’re excited because their single malt Irish whiskey will turn 3 years old this year. Experience Echlinville from £15 to £35.
Go Big with Bushmills
Old Bushmills Distillery—Bushmills, County Antrim
If you can decipher the most baffling arrangement of stills and pipework in Northern Ireland’s most famous whiskey distillery, then you will have earned your drams and your diploma in whiskey tasting. The Bushmills 12 year old Distillery Reserve is the must-buy souvenir bottle. Standard and deluxe tours priced £7.50 to £75.
Other Northern Distilleries
Rademon Estate—County Down
Crumlin Road Gaol—County Antrim (proposed)
Niche Drinks—County Londonderry (proposed)
Portaferry—County Down (proposed)
Sliabh Liag—County Donegal (opening 2019)
Head Straight to The Source
Jameson Experience—Midleton, County Cork
Despite the appearances at Bow Street, Dublin, the Midleton campus is where the world’s Jameson is really made. A close encounter with the world’s largest pot still, vintage distillery vehicles, a massive waterwheel, and master distiller Barry Crockett’s birthplace can all be experienced on a visit to the pretty courtyards of the Old Midleton Distillery. For collectors, this is your chance to pick up Midleton 20th Anniversary and Midleton 1973. Tours and tastings from €16 to€49.
Become A Whiskey Scholar
Irish Whiskey Academy—Midleton, County Cork
What this brilliant whiskey school at Midleton can’t teach you about Irish whiskey making isn’t worth knowing. Coopering, production, blending, and cask sampling, this place sets the standard for its intoxicating style of instruction. Graduates of the two-day experience receive the Midleton Academy Single Pot Still bottle. Courses from €175 to €1,199.
Dúchas or Kinsale—County Cork (proposed)
St. Patrick’s—County Cork
Tipperary Boutique—County Tipperary
West Cork Distillers—County Cork
Stick Close to Home
Old Jameson Distillery—Dublin
A must-see destination for any Dublin visitor, this busy tourist attraction is built inside the former Bow Street Distillery. Miss this place at your peril: entertaining and informative for the casual visitor, yet with broad tasting options to satisfy the palate of the knowledgeable enthusiast. Don’t leave without filling your own bottle of Jameson Select Reserve Cask Strength Black Barrel, exclusive to the well-stocked whiskey shop. Tours range from €16 to €30 with discounts for booking online. j
Stir Your Interest
Teeling Whiskey Distillery—Dublin
Have you lost that Teeling Feeling? If so, go see what all the fuss is about with the boys that brought distilling back to Dublin. Get your nose into their distillery-exclusive single malt or explore the expanding lexicon of bespoke Teeling whiskey cocktails in the Bang Bang Bar. Tours and tastings from €14 to €30.
Blend Your Own Whiskey
Irish Whiskey Museum—Dublin
A compelling account of the history of Irish whiskey, set in the heart of Dublin. Try your hand at creating your own blended whiskey or learn to discriminate between the classic Irish styles in a comparative tasting session. Tours and experiences from €16 to €26.
Get The VIP Treatment
Tullamore D.E.W.—Tullamore, County Offaly
New brand owners—check! New distillery—check! New bottlings—check! Indulge yourself with the Ultimate Distillery Experience, where you can tour the distillery and warehouse with the distillery ambassador, be entertained at the distillery house, try your hand at blending, and taste the choicest pours from their varied range of whiskeys. Relax, William Grant & Sons knows how to host in style. Prices from €12 to €150.
Step Back in Time
Kilbeggan Distillery Experience—Kilbeggan, County Westmeath
Ancient stills and a refurbished waterwheel are brought back to life at this historic distillery, where global brand ambassador John Cashman draws cask samples in the warehouse using a valinch. Experiential tastings feature the Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell, and Connemara ranges. Tours from €9 to €80.
Hit The Trifecta
Walsh Whiskey Distillery—County Carlow
The only independent distiller to craft all three types of Irish whiskey—pot still, grain, and malt whiskey—Bernard and Rosemary Walsh’s stunning new distillery at Royal Oak opened in June. Set on the 40-acre grounds of an 18th century estate, the distillery is able to produce 650,000 cases of whiskey annually. Watch for creative new expressions to be added to the Irishman and Writers Tears range starting in 2019. Tours are €15.
Other Eastern Distilleries
Dublin Whiskey Company—County Dublin (proposed)
Great Northern—County Louth
Pearse Lyons—County Dublin
Dingle Distillery—Dingle, County Kerry
Considered Ireland’s original craft distillery, Dingle is an intimate, independent operation producing just two casks per day in a former sawmill. Dingle’s pioneering founder Oliver Hughes died suddenly last July, though his memory will be toasted when their first whiskey is bottled. Distilling since 2012, there is no whiskey ready to sample, but their vodka and gin, made with Irish botanicals, offer some tasty consolation. Tours are €10.
Head Off the Beaten Path
The Shed Distillery of P.J. Rigney—Drumshanbo, County Leitrim
With its gleaming stills, the first new distillery in deep rural Connacht in 101 years is the brainchild of P.J. Rigney, who has brought employment, experimental distilling, and immense pride back to this scenic region. While waiting on the whiskey, they offer a rather special Drumshando Gunpowder Irish gin made with Asian botanicals and gunpowder tea.
Find A New Frontier
Connacht Whiskey Company—Ballina, County Mayo
Smart as a pin, this modern distillery with its three Canadian-built stills handles everything from mashing to bottling on-site. In the Mullarkey Bar, named after the founder’s ancestor who was incarcerated in Sligo gaol for illicit distillation, your bartender will conjure up a glass of Spade & Bushel (their sourced whiskey), Conncullin Irish gin, poitín, or even a signature cocktail. Tours and spirits sampling from €10 to €20.
Other Western Distilleries
Burren—County Clare (proposed)