Whiskey Island - Trail through Ireland's Ancient East
A three day trail departing from and returning to Dublin. You will visit four working distilleries and a Jameson Brand Home. There is lots of essential Ireland sightseeing along the way. The tour will begin in Dublin, and you will travel through a region known as Ireland’s Ancient East making two distillery visits. The first stop is Powerscourt Distillery where after a quick look at the Powerscourt House & Gardens, you will take a guided tour of the plant, visit to the onsite maturation warehouse and whiskey tasting which includes Fercullen Premium Blend, 10 Year Old Single Grain, 14 Year Old Single Malt and 18 Year Old Single Malt, the whiskeys of Powerscourt, made by renowned Master Distillery, Noel Sweeney and his team. The tour continues south visiting a monastic site dating back to the 6th century along the way. Glendalough is steeped in history which your guide will share with you. The tour guide will suggest a Glendalough pub where you can pick up some lunch.
Next, the tour will take you through the Wicklow Mountains towards Kilkenny. Just on the outskirts of Kilkenny you’ll find an artisan Irish family farm distillery, Ballykeefe Distillery. It is from this area that the first written account of distilling in Ireland comes from in 1324. It was written in the Red Book of Ossory. The word “whiskey” is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic phrase, uisce beatha, meaning “water of life”. It’s here that you discover the history of Irish whiskey, at it’s birthplace. You’ll be walked through the farm’s mill house, the brewhouse, the copper pot stills, the warehouse where their whiskey is still sleeping soundly. You’ll also see the on-site bottling plant. You will finally be taken to the tasting rooms, transformed from the horses stable where you’ll sample Ballykeefe’s own Gin, Vodka and Poitín.
A short drive to Kilkenny once back on the coach. Kilkenny is a medieval city in southeast Ireland, arguably the most prominent medieval city in the country. Here you will have the opportunity to explore it at leisure. The town has deep religious roots and many well preserved churches and monasteries, including the imposing St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey Dominican priory, both from the 13th century. It’s also a crafts hub, with shops along its winding lanes selling pottery, paintings and jewellery, a shopper’s paradise! There’s no shortage of pubs with live music and restaurants to choose from for dinner.
The following morning the tour departs towards the Southeast, travelling not far to the Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford. Waterford is most famous for it’s hugely successful crystal of course, but it also here that the Vikings first entered Ireland and chose Waterford for their first settlement. Tour the Waterford Crystal factory and browse the retail store. Waterford is lunch stop and after lunch there is a 90 minute transit across the county of Waterford to County Cork, to the town of Midleton in East Cork, a very important town on the Irish whiskey map. On arrival in Midleton, the tour will head straight for the Jameson Distillery Midleton. Jameson was made in Dublin for 200 years but since 1975, Jameson has been produced in Midleton, East Cork. Discover the home of the biggest Irish whiskey in the world, if you enjoy Jameson, you will love this. You will experience an extended behind the scenes tour at Jamesons, including a fully guided tour through the distillery buildings, giving you special access to the micro distillery, cooperage, maturation warehouse A1 and distiller’s cottage. You will also experience a high end whiskey tasting along the way, enjoying some of the most premium whiskeys to come out of Ireland, including Midleton Very Rare and Redbreast 12 YO. After the tour there will be time for shopping in the Jameson retail store before an overnight stay in Cork where you will have the opportunity to explore Cork at your leisure.
The next morning the tour will take you north towards Dublin, passing the village of Dungourney on the way out of Cork. The Dungourney river is the water source for the distillery in Midleton, all Jameson whiskey sold worldwide is made by water from this river. Just 40 minutes away, is the first visit of the day, to Blackwater Distillery, on the banks of the River Blackwater. Blackwater Distillery operate a micro distillery, making a small batch gin and they are resurrecting the forgotten processes of making Irish whiskey. You will try some of their spirit during the visit along with a refreshing Blackwater gin and tonic. The distillery is located in the village of Ballyduff in West Waterford, from here you’ll enjoy some scenery as the tour makes its way to County Tipperary, 40 minutes away.
The tour will make a stop at the little town of Cahir, with it’s imposing castle. Feel free to wander up to the castle for a visit and enjoy some lunch in one of the town’s pubs or cafes. After, you will visit the last distillery of the tour, the Tipperary Boutique Distillery, just outside Cahir. Here, you’ll have a special informal visit to what will be a proper ‘field to glass’ farm where you will sample some of their own branded whiskeys. Sit back and relax for the two hour trip back to Dublin.
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