Article courtesy of the Affluent Traveler Collection
If there is one thing nearly all travelers can agree on, it’s that the Irish know how to make a darn fine drink. Whether it’s whiskey, a velvety stout, floral-scented gin, or a fashionable cocktail, the Emerald Isle has enjoyed a spirited renaissance over the last decade when it comes to exquisite libations.
In the 19th century, Irish whiskey was one of the world’s most widely consumed spirits; however, this would all change when the 18th Amendment established the prohibition of alcohol in the United States, the biggest market for Irish whiskey at the time. Ultimately, this lead to the demise of Irish whiskey as distilleries across Ireland were forced to close. Things would change once again with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, repealing the Prohibition, and welcoming back Ireland’s famed liquid gold to the States.
Today, craft distilleries and breweries throughout Ireland continue to catch the attention of imbibers the world over with their phenomenal beer and cider, gin, brandy, and whiskey that blend old-world traditions with innovative, modern-day techniques.
Teeling Whiskey Distillery – Dublin
Established by Jack and Stephen Teeling and located in the Liberties area of Dublin, Teeling Whiskey Distillery opened its doors to whiskey aficionados in 2012 as the city’s first new distillery in over 125 years. Whiskey making has been in the family genes for over 200 years when Walter Teeling set up a small craft distillery just down the road from the current distillery in the industrial heart of Dublin City in 1782.
Teeling’s Master Distiller and Blender, Alex Chasko, has been instrumental in the creation of the company’s award-winning whiskeys. The distillery specializes in creating small-batch bottlings that have been raising the bar for Irish whiskey with over 230 international whiskey awards. Their flagship whiskey, Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, matures in ex-bourbon barrels and is then married together in Central American rum casks for up to 12 months. Teeling Single Grain is crafted using an unconventional mash bill consisting of 95% corn and 5% malted barley that has been triple distilled and matured in Californian cabernet sauvignon barrels.
The distillery offers tours as well as tastings seven days a week year-round.
Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery – Dublin
Located inside the former St. James’ Church in Dublin, a structure that dates back to the 12th century, the Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery opened in 2013 by Dr. Pearse Lyons and his wife Deirdre. The church, which was deconsecrated in the 1960s, was largely in disrepair so an extensive restoration was required. Soon after The Lyons bought the church, it received national monument status. With its new status, the church was renovated with the same slate from Wales it was built with, the same limestone from France, and beams for the roof were brought up from South America.
Dr. Lyons was no stranger to the distilling business. He was the first Irishman to get a formal degree in brewing and distilling from the British Institute of Brewing & Distilling. In 1999, he bought the oldest brewery in Lexington, Kentucky renaming it Lexington Brewing and Distilling. He started with brewing beer before expanding into making bourbon, a rye, and a single malt at Town Branch. Eventually returning to his Irish homeland, Dr. Lyons imported two Kentucky Vendome stills and started Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery just a short distance away from the Guinness storefront. Even though the entrepreneur sadly passed in 2018 at the age of 73, his legacy lives on in the whiskeys that are carefully crafted here. The Original Blend is a five-year-old 43% proof blended whiskey with a slightly citrus nose. Distiller’s Choice is a seven-year-old blend and is also 43% proof. Cooper’s Select, another seven-year-old blend, begins maturing in a bourbon barrel for four years and then is moved into a sherry barrel for the final three.
Small guided tours led by Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery storytellers are available year-round and run every hour, on the hour.
Clonakilty Distillery – Cork
The Scully Family took their family farm in County Cork, a three-hour scenic drive from Dublin, and created the Clonakilty Distillery in the heart of Clonakilty. This waterfront distillery has the perfect location for a maritime distillery thanks to its prime land, pristine water, and fresh salty air. The distillery recently opened its doors in 2018 on the scenic Wild Atlantic Way route and already has become well known for its award-winning whiskeys and gins. The family farm even grows its very own heritage barley for distilling. Inside the distillery, three lustrous copper pot stills are an awe-inspiring sight to behold.
The distillery is also home to the Minke Gin School. This two-hour experience provides the perfect setting for a fun evening out. Every Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., visitors learn about botanicals and the process of gin making. Guests can distill their very own bottle of gin while sipping on a Minke G&T. The name of the school comes from the distillery’s very own Minke Gin, named after the majestic minke whale that swims along the coast.
Rademon Estate Distillery – Crossgar
Northern Ireland’s first award-winning craft gin and whiskey distillery can be found at Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar, 18 miles south of Belfast. This distillery sits on over 500 lush acres that were originally settled in 565 A.D. with the current estate home being built in 1667. An imposing obelisk in honor of the 19th Century Estate Manager, William Sharman-Crawford, overlooks the property from its hillside perch.
The husband-and-wife team of Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong owns and operates the distillery that produces Shortcross Gin – a heavily citrus-flavored gin that they started to produce in mid-2014. The botanicals used to produce Shortcross Gin include wild clover, elderberries, elderflower, and apples from the estate, as well as water from the on-site well. Every bottle is hand-dipped in black wax to seal. The distillery also produces a Single Malt Irish Whiskey and a Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey that was unveiled in the Summer of 2019.
A state-of-the-art visitor center welcomes visitors and reserved tours are offered frequently (and usually led by David!).
Longueville House – Mallow
Situated on over 450 acres, Longueville House is an impressive 300-year-old manor in the beautiful Blackwater Valley. A manor embellished with a Victorian conservatory, ornate Italian-designed ceilings, a marble dining-room mantelpiece, magnificent rare inlaid mahogany doors, and an unusual, full-height bifurcating staircase might seem like an unlikely candidate to also be a brewery. In reality, the estate is home to a 32-acre apple orchard which is used to produce an artisan craft cider as well as Ireland’s only apple brandy.
In 1969, the manor was opened to the public as a bed & breakfast and added The Presidents’ Restaurant in the early 1970s. The owner at the time, Michael O’Callaghan, who is also a descendant of the manor’s original owner, Donough O’Callaghan, oversaw the property including farmland. Michael’s son, William, is the current proprietor and oversees the estate as well as the cider and brandy production. Longueville House Cider is a refreshing, crisp, medium-dry cider with a fresh apple flavor. Longueville House Irish Apple Brandy is a double distillation of their cider that is rich with the aroma of apples, smooth and full-bodied on the palate.
Guests can visit for the day or spend the night. Longueville House offers a unique tour experience followed by a tasting of the Longueville House Cider, Cider Mór, and Apple Brandy.