Top 5 Distilleries Open to the Public in Ireland
While there is no shortage of distilleries in Ireland, the ones open for public tours are not as abundant. Some distilleries no longer distill, but still offer public tours through their visitor centers and some distilleries that do distill, are not open to the public.
The Old Bushmills Distillery became official in 1784 distilling with malting barley, even after the malt tax in the 1850s which caused many distilleries to change their recipe. Even after multiple setbacks including a building fire, prohibition, and World War II, Bushmills remained strong, seeing its brand and product become increasingly popular in the 1950s. More recently, Bushmills has had its fair share of the spotlight including sweeping the board at spirits competitions in 2010 and celebrity appearances that include Elijah Wood, Bon Iver, and Chromeo. The Old Bushmills Distillery is located in a small Northern Irish village on the river and delivers distillery tours daily.
Located in Dublin, the Old Jameson Distillery offers guided tours and tasting experiences to visitors. Guided tours take visitors through the history of Jameson, ending with a comparative tasting to help teach the difference between American, Irish, and Scotch whiskeys. At the end, visitors receive a Tasting Certificate for bragging rights. The Old Jameson Distillery also features a Jameson Whiskey Masterclass where visitors learn about malt and grain whiskey, distillation and maturation all while getting to taste premium Jameson Whiskies. Old Jameson also allows you to bottle your own Jameson Select Reserve Cask Strength Black Barrel Whiskey in the gift shop. Although distilling no longer happens here, visitors can enjoy The Jameson Experience at the Old Midleton Distillery.
Old Midleton Distillery
Although Jameson was never distilled at the Old Midleton Distillery as it moved to Midleton in 1975 when the new buildings were used, the Jameson Experience Tour is located at the Old Midleton. The Jameson Experience includes history on Jameson as well as information on the distillery that operated before Jameson moved. Tours through the Old Midleton Distillery bring visitors face to face with old kilns, pot stills, and casks, as well as the exterior grounds of the distillery. Other visitor options include a behind the scenes tour and premium whiskey tasting.
The Kilbeggan Distillery offers patrons a variety of tour options differing in price, the time allotted, and information covered. There are self tours, tours with tasting experiences, tours with exclusive behind the scenes visitations, tours with meet and greets and for the connoisseur, a tour featuring all of the above plus the opportunity to bottle your own whiskey and more. For whiskey fans who can’t make it to Ireland to tour the historic facility, Kilbeggan offers a virtual tour on their website.
Located just an hour outside of Dublin, the Tullamore D.E.W. distillery is rich in history and whiskey. The visitor center is based in the Bonded Warehouse and features three levels of tours. For the curious taster, the tour goes through the Old Bonded Warehouse and ends with a triple tasting. The Whiskey Wise Masterclass focuses not only on the history of the whiskey but also the secrets from founder Daniel E. Williams. This tour ends with a tutored 6 whiskey taste testing. The final tour gives patrons an all-encompassing look at the distilling process starting in the Still House, followed by a visit to the Warehouse and even getting to blend your whiskey.
Other distilleries in Ireland include:
- Dingle Distillery
- Alltech Craft Distillery
- West Cork Distillers
- New Midleton Distillery
Next time you’re in Ireland, be sure to visit these distilleries and become a whiskey expert.