You’ve made the pilgrimage to Bourbon County and maybe even traveled part of Scotland’s whisky trail, but have you visited any Irish distilleries? While the country’s whiskey has become wildly popular in America, what’s not widely known is that all four of its distillers are now open to the public. Bon voyage!
The town of Bushmills, at the top of the isle in Northern Ireland, has been known for its fine liquor since 1608. The eponymous distillery is well-equipped for guests and even offers a bar, restaurant and gift shop. If you make the trip, you’ll get to watch its nine copper pot stills in action and have a taste of their output.
Ireland’s major independent distillery, Cooley produces a number of whiskies, including Connemara, Greenore and Tyrconnell. Just last fall, the company’s main facility, about an hour north of Dublin, started offering a one-hour behind-the-scenes tour led by the warehouse manager. (You do need to make an appointment in advance. Book it online.)
When you’re in Dublin, stop by Jameson’s original location, which has been turned into a visitors’ center. You’ll get plenty of history about John Jameson, and a dram. Travel south to County Cork and you can check out the brand’s functioning distillery, pictured above, as well. (Enter Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Day giveaway and you could go for free.)
For five decades, Kilbeggan, located west of Dublin, was mothballed. But just four years ago, Cooley began producing whiskey at the site again, which coincided with its 250th anniversary. When you visit, you can see alcohol being made in the historic copper pot still, the giant waterwheel turning and coopers at work.