When it comes to booze in Dublin, visitors often instantly think of that foamy pint of Guinness stout. This Irish dry stout originated in 1759 in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. While “that pint of the black stuff” is such a big icon in Dublin, many alcohol-loving folks don’t seem to realize that the Irish capital thrives in whiskey production too. In fact, it was the center of Irish whiskey production back in the golden era.
Let’s talk about the tipsy 19th century, shall we?
Ireland was the largest producer of spirits in the UK in the early 1800s, with Dublin being the largest market for spirits in Ireland. The Irish capital then emerged as a major distilling centre. By 1823, Dublin was home to five of the largest licensed distilleries in the country, including the world-famous Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Unfortunately, Irish whiskey went into a century of decline. All thanks to Prohibition in the US, Irish Independence, and the increased competition from Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey went on a deep slump. Dublin, which was the center of Irish whiskey production, experienced a major downturn in the 20th century, causing their great distilleries to shut their doors one by one.
Dublin 21st century: The center of a new generation of Irish whiskey distilling
Dublin’s whiskey distilleries underwent a 21st century rebirth. Distilleries such as Teeling, Pearse Lyons, and Roe & Co, have opened in The Liberties, which was the epicentre of brewing and distilling in Dublin.
So if you’re a whiskey connoisseur in Dublin, ditch your plan of buying whiskey from a supermarket and drinking it in your hotel in Dublin. Here are the top 5 distilleries to check out for tours and tastings.
1. Jameson Distillery Guided Tour with Whiskey Tasting
Dublin is the birthplace of the world-famous Jameson Irish Whiskey, which opened in 1780. The iconic distillery on Bow St. has helped make Dublin the center of whiskey production until it shut down in the 20th century. They moved operations to Midleton, Co. Cork in the 1970s.
While Jameson is no longer operating as a distillery in Dublin, their location has been refurbished into a museum and tasting room. Here, whiskey aficionados may uncover the history of Jameson & Irish whiskey while sipping this iconic drink.
The Jameson Distillery Guided Tour with Whiskey Tasting lets you discover the history and the secrets behind the distillation process of Ireland’s best-selling whiskey. The tour includes local guide, comparative whiskey tasting, signature Jameson Ginger and Lime drink, and a complimentary drink at the end of the tour.
2. Teeling Whiskey Distillery
Teeling Whiskey Distillery is more than just a factory — it’s also a place of historical significance since it marked the revival of Irish whiskey production in Dublin. The distillery opened in 2015, and it was the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin in 125 years. It’s also the first fully-functioning distillery in the city since Jameson moved their operations to Cork in the 1970s.
Unlike in the Jameson’s guided tour, Teeling Whiskey Distillery Tour and Tasting lets you experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a fully operational distillery. After the guided tour, you’ll have a range of tasting options, from drinks that suit whiskey beginners to spirits that please the connoisseurs.
Teeling has instantly become a Dublin icon. You can spot their signature barrels outside pubs all over the city.
3. Pearse Lyons Distillery
Have you ever tried drinking alcohol in a church… legally? Well, Pearse Lyons will give you this “it’s right but it feels so wrong” experience. The distillery is housed in the former St. James Church in the Liberties, which was once the heart of Dublin’s distillery scene.
It’s not every day that you can see a vivid church stained glass window and copper pot stills at the same time, in the same room. Aside from the aspects of whiskey distilling, the Pearse Lyons’ tour also covers the history of the Liberties and how the church was refurbished.
4. Roe and Co Distillery
Roe and Co is a rebirth of a great name. The distillery is named after George Roe, one of the pioneers of the Dublin whiskey industry. While his old distillery may be long gone, his legacy has inspired a new generation of whiskey producers. Today, people know Roe & Co as a blended Irish whiskey created by Master Blender Caroline Martin. The distillery opened in the former Guinness power plant in 2019, and is operated by Guinness owners Diageo.
The Roe & Co distillery tours take you through the art of distilling and blending fun flavors. You’ll be guided by professional bartenders. The tours focus more on the senses of taste & smell. It’s more of an interactive tour than a passive, historical one. You can also create your own cocktails during the tour.
5. The Dublin Liberties Distillery
The Dublin Liberties Distillery is housed in a 400-year-old former mill and tannery. Unlike the former distilleries mentioned, The Dublin Liberties Distillery doesn’t have a famous name attached to its brand. However, it carries the name of the heart of brewing and distilling in Dublin during its heyday: The Liberties.
The distillery also sets itself apart from the others by having its own on-site well (natural spring water source) to create Uisce Beatha (The Water of Life). This is a key ingredient to whiskey production.
The tour begins with tasting their unique honeycomb liquor. There’s more liquor waiting for you in the tasting room, which features a wide range of whiskeys including Dubliner & Dublin Liberties.
All this whiskey talking makes me want to book a hotel in Dublin and sign up for tours and tasting. What’s your favorite distillery tour from our picks? We’d love to hear your comments. Cheers!
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a passionate travel blogger who dreams of managing her very own hotel. This free-spirited damsel loves to share her insights about travel, lifestyle, personal finance, and business. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Aspect Hotel Park West Dublin.