When people think of Ireland they tend to picture a lot of alcohol. Well, they’re not entirely wrong. However, it’s not just Guinness that we’re famous for. Any of you that enjoy whiskey will know that Ireland is the home of Jameson whiskey.
Now, I’ll be honest, I’m no whiskey conisseur! The only time I drink whiskey is with hot lemon and honey when I’m dying of some cold. BUT I had heard such high praise for the Jameson tour that I felt I needed to check it out during my time in Dublin. I mean, honestly, how could a girl turn down the chance to go whiskey tasting in the Old Jameson Distillery?!
How Do I Get There?
The Jameson distillery is located in Smithfield on the north side of Dublin. If you’re staying in Generator hostel then this will be extremely convenient for you, being pretty much directly opposite. Otherwise it’s about a fifteen minute walk from Temple Bar or O’Connell street. Now, be warned, it’s not the nicest of walks. Smithfield is not a part of town that I would ever choose to spend much time in. It has recently had a make over buuuutttt you’re still likely to encounter a few unsavoury characters. If you’re on the Dublin City sightseeing bus the stop to get off at would be 21a on the RED route. This will leave you right outside the Jameson distillery. Lovely!
How Much Is It?
The tour costs 15euro and includes a guided tour, the whiskey tasting and a free drink at the end. Excellent value considering how much a drink usually costs in Dublin. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than the Guinness equivalent.
What’s The Tour Like?
When you arrive you buy a ticket and are allocated a tour time. I recommend going early as the slots can sell out after 3pm. A lot of people want to go whiskey tasting at the Old Jameson Distillery. I ended up having to wait 40 minutes for the next tour, but I was more than happy to do so when I saw the beautiful bar complete with Jameson bottle chandelier. The list of Jameson cocktails may have had something to do with it too. I highly recommend the Whiskey Sour.
When your tour letter is called just head on over and meet your friendly tour guide. Mine went by the name of Evan and was absolutely wonderful at his job. He was like a walking Wikipedia article on all things Jameson. Evan led us into the auditorium to watch a short movie about the Old Distillery and then it was time to start our guided tour.
The guided tour lasts about one hour and takes you through all the steps of Jameson’s triple distillation process. For example; milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and others. Evan also kept us interested with fun facts about Jameson and it’s history along the way, answering any questions we could dream up. One fact that I found particularly interesting was that the word “whiskey” comes from the gaelic words “uisce beatha” . Usice beatha means “The water of life”, which is what we called whiskey before the word “whiskey” was even invented. When “uisce beatha” became Anglicized they couldn’t quite pronounce it our way, sooooo it became “whiskeybae” and then eventually just “whiskey”. There’s a bit of knowledge for you! Maybe you can use it in a pub quiz.
After working up a thirst during the tour it was time to move on to the much anticipated whiskey tasting in the Old Jameson Distillery.
What About The Whiskey Tasting?
Finally, the part you’ve all been waiting for, the whiskey tasting in the old Jameson distillery ! We were whisked (see what I did there) into a room full of little cups of whiskey. Each person had their own tasting station with three shots of whiskey and a cup of water. After cleansing our palates with the water it was time to begin our tasting.
In the centre was Jameson, which we tried first. A quick “Slainte” (which means Cheers in Gaelic, well actually it means “health” nut we won’t get technical about it) was said and then the whiskey hit our lips. The Jameson was smooth and warm with a slightly sweet taste. Don’t get me wrong, it still felt like fire, but I definitely had a new appreciation for its sweetness.
Next was the scotch whiskey. This was by FAR the worst of the three. The man across from me literally said “Sure that could strip the paint off my gate”, and gasped after he’d swallowed it. It was hilarious. Safe to say everyone at my table wrote the Scotch off straight away.
Finally it was on to the American whiskey, Jack Daniels. This didn’t have as much burn as the previous two, it was much easier to swallow. However, it also didn’t have the sweetness to it that the Jameson did. After having tasted all three the general consensus seemed to be that Jameson was the favourite.
The Final Verdict!
So with my whiskey tasting at the Old Jameson Distillery over and done with it was time to head to the bar for our free Jameson, ginger and lime. On the way from the tasting my friend, who is Irish, noted all the full whiskey shots that had been left at the tasting tables and wondered whether he could get away with downing them all before we headed to the bar. Typical Irish reaction!! Luckily I persuaded him to hold out for the free drink awaiting us.
It is at this point of the tour that you can print out your official whiskey tasting certificate. Something to put on the CV! Then take a stroll through the Jameson gift shop and pick up some souvenirs.
For me this was one of the best things I’ve done in Dublin. The Old Jameson Distillery is wonderful value for money and I would not hesitate to recommend it. In fact, I recently recommended my American cousin and her friends take a visit to the distillery while they were in Dublin and they LOVED it. The staff are amazing and the tour is so informative. Whiskey tasting in the Old Jameson Distillery needs to be on everyone’s Dublin to-do list.