The past couple of weeks have been incredible. The amount of experiences, activities and delicious meals I’ve partaken in doesn’t even seem possible! Still, even a DTourist needs a little time to herself so on my second day in Dublin I took a break from conferences and scheduled activities and headed out with one goal in mind: Irish Whiskey.
As my friends at home well know, I’m a whiskey girl. What’s more, I’m a Jameson girl! While most ladies order a white wine spritzer or vodka cranberry I opt for Jameson either on the rocks or neat. I know, it’s generally a “dude” drink, but I just love the taste of it! For my college days it was the sorority-standard of Jack and Coke, but the grown up version is a triple distilled Irish whiskey. When I learned I was going to visit Dublin as a part of my DTour I knew that I had to visit the Jameson Distillery while in town.
I set out in the rain from the Morrison Hotel, a 10-15 minute walk along the River Liffey. Though the tram could have delivered me almost to the distillery door, I like to walk when I can. Dublin knows their visitors well and have helped the search by adding helpful navigation arrows toward the distillery.
Once arrived, I jumped in the queue to purchase a ticket for a guided tour of the distillery. The tour groups are relatively small and leave about every 20 minutes and tours tend to last about an hour. My wait time of 35 minutes gave me just enough time to walk around a bit outside, browse the gift shop and jump over to the bar so that I could start the tour off right.
Our group was first led into a small theater to watch a short film, told from the point of view of a New York newspaper reporter in the early 1800’s as he visited the Jameson Distillery. He is lead around by John Jameson, Jr. and introduced to the unique process by which Jameson whiskey is made. My tour guide, Claire, then asked for 8 volunteers to help with an activity at the end of the tour. In the interest of research paired with my love of the product I volunteered to partake in the mysterious activity – more on this later.
Claire then led us through to the different rooms where various processes of the creation of Jameson is explained both visually and by the guide. No whiskey is actually made at the facility anymore, but Jameson has done a wonderful job of recreating the process for visitors to be able to understand and appreciate the history, recipe and, of course, the end product.
The whiskey making process is clearly explained to visitors from the malting and storing of barley to the mashing and fermentation processes to the importance of triple-distilling and maturation. The difference between American whiskey, Scotch whiskey and Irish whiskey is discussed at each stop of the tour, emphasizing the superiority of Jameson, of course. Perhaps the most important distinction between the three products is the distillation process. Jameson whiskey is distilled 3 separate times in copper distillers to separate the actual whiskey from the water used in the mashing and fermentation processes.
From a visual stand point, I especially liked the bit of the tour when the aging of the whiskey is discussed and demonstrated. Barrels with clear lids are lit from behind to show the different color of the whiskey depending on the number of years aged, as well as the the “Angel’s Share” or the 2% each year that evaporates and is lost. This is also where visitors learn about Jameson’s 12 year Distillery Reserve – sold in the gift shop for €55 with a customized label. This Reserve Bottle is only sold at Jameson Distilleries in Dublin and Cork but can also be ordered through company’s website.
At the end of the tour all participants are welcome to sample Jameson while the 8 volunteers from the beginning of the tour are placed at a tasting table. Three whiskeys: Scottish, American and Irish are then tasted by the volunteers as the guide explains the subtle and not so subtle differences between the three popular brands. Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker Red Label and Jameson are sipped, tasted and evaluated. I’m not very good at tasting the difference between types of wine but I’m a pro at tasting the difference between the three types of whiskey. The smokiness of the Scotch Whiskey was a dead giveaway and the American Whiskey was so distinctively college and sweet tasting, I would have known it anywhere. The Jameson, of course, was the smoothest of the three and by far the easiest to drink straight – the point that the tour worked the entire hour to successfully demonstrate.
Wouldn’t you know it? Of the 8 tasting volunteers I was the ONLY woman seated at the table amongst 7 men from Germany, Australia, France and America. My friends, Cam and Jeff, would have been so proud of me! Though, I must admit, drinking Jameson at the distillery in Dublin isn’t as fun as drinking it with good friends anywhere in the world. Still, for my next serving of Jameson I will be able to greater appreciate the process, time and effort that goes into each bottle.
Plan your own visit to the distillery!
Open 7 days a week, including Bank Holidays. Monday thru Saturday, 9am-6pm; Sunday 10am-6pm; last tour leaves at 5:15pm daily. Closed on Good Friday and December 24-26.
Walk: Within walking distance from downtown Dublin, located on Bow Street in Smithfield Village. Walk North past Christ Church and across the River Liffey. As you get close to the Distillery signs will help point the way.
Public Transport: 3 minute walk from the Luas Tram line (Smithfield) and stop 20 on the Hop on Hop off Dublin Bus Tour (Arran Quary.)
Drive: Closest public parking is at Queen Street, about 2 minutes walk. There is also metered street parking available.
Adults – €14; Students with ID – €10.60; Children under 18 – €7.70; Seniors – €9.60; 5 person family (2 adults, 3 children) – €35. Pre-book online to receive 10% off of the normal tour price.