How to Plan a Whiskey Drinking Tour of Irish Distilleries

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How to Plan a Whiskey Drinking Tour of Irish Distilleries. Known in Gaelic as "Uisea Beatha" (pronounced "ishka baha"), meaning "Water of Life", whiskey has enjoyed a high status in Ireland since the twelfth century. In modern times, poor managerial decisions and fateful historical events spelled the end of over hundred Irish distilleries. Now there are only three working distilleries--Bushmills, Midleton and Cooley--and two whiskey distillery museums, Locke's and Jameson. However, if you enjoy good whiskey, a drinking tour of these distilleries is a must. You can see the entire process of whiskey-making from the ingredients used to malting, mashing, distillation, maturation and blending. You also can learn the differences between Irish, Scotch and Bourbon, and the correct way to drink whiskey.

Research the history of whiskey-making in Ireland. Whiskey supposedly came to Ireland with Christian monks who had learned the distillation technique during their travels in the Middle East. The first written accounts of whiskey are from 1403.

Look up the websites of Bushmills, Midleton and Cooley distilleries. Read the history of each distillery and the whiskeys they produce. Research the history of Locke's Distillery and the Old Jameson Distillery.

Get information about location and visiting hours. The Cooley Distillery in County Louth is not open for public tours. However, you can visit Locke's Distillery Museum, where you can see stored casks of maturing Cooley whiskey, in Kilbeggan County Westmeath from April to October, between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and from November to March, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the week. The Old Jameson Distillery in Bow Street, Dublin is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Visit Bushmills between January and March, Monday to Friday at the following set times: 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Weekends tours begin at 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. From April to October, the distillery is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. It also opens on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Tour the Midleton Distillery between March and October, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and between November and February, from Monday to Friday, at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Get information about entry ticket prices, parking availability and restaurant facilities for visitors. Buy entry tickets online or on site. You can book in advance for the set-timing tours or simply show up punctually.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can get multilingual audio guides on the whiskey drinking tour.
  • You can get student or family discounts. Children under 6 have free entry.
  • The distilleries are not wheelchair accessible.
  • Children under 8 cannot come on the guided tours inside the production areas.

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