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5 of the Best Places to Taste Whiskey in Dublin

Find out the best places to taste whiskey in Dublin. Go on a Dublin distillery tour. Discover the best Irish whiskey in Dublin at the source.
Dublin has a strong whiskey distilling heritage, particularly in the Liberties neighborhood. At the turn of the 20th century, 88 distilleries could be counted in Ireland. 

The Dublin Liberties area was a mecca of both distilling and brewing in Ireland. This was particularly apparent in 1875 when what became known as the Dublin whiskey fire broke out. 

The fire's epicenter was Laurence Malone's bonded storehouse and over one million liters of whiskey flowed through the streets when the barrels started to explode from the heat. 

13 people died that night, but none from the fire itself or smoke inhalation. Apparently all 13 souls died of alcohol poisoning. Dubliners love their uisce beatha or "water of life" as whiskey is known in Irish.

Vintage whiskey bottles on display at the Irish Whiskey Museum

The Irish whiskey industry, and in turn the Liberties, slumped in early 20th century for a few reasons. 
  1. Disruptions due to WWI and the War for Irish Independence
  2. Improved Scottish distilling techniques making it harder for Irish distilleries to compete internationally on volume
  3. Prohibition in the U.S. cutting off a key market
Today, whiskey distilling in Dublin has experienced a tremendous resurgence and the Liberties is back on the map with a number of new and innovative whiskey producers coming on line in the last decade. 

Read on and discover the best places to taste whiskey in Dublin: from Smithfield to the Liberties with a stop in Dublin City Centre in between. Tasting Irish whiskey is definitely a great way to spend a day out in Dublin.

1. Teeling Distillery

Teeling is the grandfather of the new Irish whiskey distilleries in the Liberties. 

It takes a long time for whiskey to age and mature. Teeling was the very first 21st century distillery to make and sell a whiskey from end-to-end within Dublin City. 

Take a 45 minute tour of Teeling Distillery. The tour itself is the same for everyone. The biggest choice you have is what whiskies you'll taste at the end of the tour (the most important part of the tour in my humble opinion). 

Copper pot still at Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin

Tours of the Teeling whiskey distillery run from 15 EUR to 30 EUR. The more you pay, the more expensive and rare of their offerings that you'll taste. 

The Teeling whiskey tour itself was very informative and covered all the steps in the distillation and maturation processes.

If you want to take home some Teeling, you can buy a bottle of whiskey in their distillery shop. You'll also most definitely find Teeling at various shops around Dublin City and in Duty Free at Dublin Airport.  

2. Roe & Co

Now let's go on a tour of Roe & Co. Distillery. There are a number of tours that you can choose from that start at different times. 

We tried the Blending Experience for 30 EUR per person at the time of writing. Roe & Co. Distillery is homed in the historic power station that used to run the Guinness Brewery.

The tour started with a bit of history and a tour of the distillery's equipment. The Original George Roe & Co. Distillery was founded in 1757 but went under in the 1920s (alongside many other historic Irish distilleries). 

Copper pot stills at Roe and Co Distillery in Dublin

Roe & Co. was reborn in 2017. The copper stills and mash tun are quite dramatic when viewed from above.

Time to taste and blend! A wall in the blending room showcases the different experiments and the path that led to Roe & Co's 106 signature blend. 

Three wee drams of different whiskeys awaited us. Our tasting tray sat in front of separation funnels and a graduated cylinder which took me back to my days in the chemistry lab.

We got to mix our own Old Fashioned with instructions from our Roe & Co. tour guide. 

The huge, perfect ice cube sitting in a crystal glass was both impressive and elegant. I mixed a pretty darn good cocktail if I do say so myself!

Set-up for mixing a cocktail at Roe & Co. distillery in the Dublin Liberties

Our Roe & Co. whiskey tasting experience ended in the bar. The Roe & Co. Blending Experience comes with a cocktail. There were 5 high balls with different flavor profiles that we could choose from. 

I had "Salt" with Belsazar vernouth, lemonade, and a whiff of smokey Talisker. My partner tried "Umami" which included white port topped with coconut soda and a coconut garnish.

Mixing a cocktail at Roe & Co Distillery in Dublin

3. Pearse Lyons Distillery

Pearse Lyons has to be my favorite whiskey distillery in the Dublin Liberties. For me the Pearse Lyons Experience is less about the whiskey itself and more about the setting.

Pearse Lyons Distillery is homed within St. James Church and graveyard, a site that boasts over 800 years of history. 

Glass tower of Pearse Lyons Distillery viewed from the street in the Dublin Liberties

The current version of St. James features gothic architecture and dates back to the 19th century. The church was in ruin before Thomas Pearse Lyons, founder of the distillery stepped in. 

Lyons restored the de-consecrated church and opened the Irish whiskey distillery bearing his name in late 2017. 

In a cruel twist of fate, Pearse Lyons died shortly after Pearse Lyons Distillery opened but his legacy lives on here in the Dublin Liberties. 

The Pearse Lyons distillery tour and whiskey tasting experience cost between 20 - 30 EUR at the time of writing. Once again, the price determines which whiskeys and how many you get to taste. 

The Pearse Lyons whiskey tour and tasting takes about an hour. In addition to the great whiskey, you'll also get a chance to pass through the historic graveyard. The founder's grandfather is buried here. 

The Pearse Lyons tasting room is simply breathtaking. Look up at the giant glass spire that replaced the crumbling church steeple. 

Whiskey-themed stained glass at Pearse Lyons Distillery in the Dublin Liberties

The stained glass windows are custom made for the distillery and cover the various steps in the distillation process. The former altar is now home to large and dramatic pot stills. 

4. Jameson Distillery Bow Street

Our next stop to taste whiskey in Dublin is across the River Liffey on the Northside of Dublin in Smithfield

Jameson is probably Ireland's most well-known whiskey brand. Jameson is one of just a few distilleries across Ireland that survived that 20th century downturn. 

Sign-up for the Bow St. Experience for 25 EUR at the time of writing. 

When your guide asks for volunteers before the introductory video, make sure you raise your hand. You'll get a green cardboard cylinder that is your ticket to a more expansive whiskey tasting.

Copper still outside Jameson Distillery Bow St. in Dublin Smithfield

Your Jameson Bow Street Experience includes a step-by-step review of the whiskey making process: Malting, Milling, Mashing, Fermentation, Distillation, Maturation, Marrying, and Vatting. 

Whiskey making is akin to brewing beer until the distillation stage of the process. The color deepens considerably as the whiskey ages as the "Angels' Share" evaporates. 

The price of the tour includes a mixed drink or whiskey over ice at the end of the Jameson tour. If you raised your hand and got what is effectively a golden ticket, you'll taste Irish, Scottish, and American whiskies to compare the similarities and differences. 

5. The Irish Whiskey Museum

If you prefer a brand-agnostic whiskey tasting and tour, head to the Irish Whiskey Museum near the bottom of Grafton Street across from Trinity College Dublin. 

Duck in off the street and appreciate the quiet as the hustle and bustle fades away as you pass a large 'Irish Whiskey Museum' sign and climb the stairs to the exhibit.  

Guided tours cost between 20-30 EUR at the time of writing. The 20 EUR tour is slightly shorter (about an hour and comes with 3 types of Irish whiskey to taste. The 30 EUR tour (the VIP tour, if you will) takes one hour and 15 minutes and includes a set of 4 whiskeys to taste guided by a resident whiskey expert.
 
The whiskies on offer change regularly so no two trips to the museum are the same.

Our tour guide, Aidan, led us into the exhibit and introduced us to Uisce Beatha, the Irish term for whiskey which literally means 'water of life'. Monks in the early middle ages coined the phrase in reference to the distillation of alcohol. 

As we progressed through the first two rooms, we watched a couple of short and humorous videos and got acquainted with the history of whiskey making through the ages and the techniques and equipment used to make this most Irish of beverages.

We soon emerged into a bright Victorian-style pub. Portraits on the wall came to life and told the story of the power players on the Irish whiskey scene. 

In the early 20th century, one third of the workforce in Dublin was employed directly by the drinks industry and their direct suppliers. The industry was booming. 

I found it fascinating that each worker received a measure of whiskey at the end of each day. Could it be that a whiskey a day keeps the doctor away?

The 20th century was a tumultuous one for Irish Whiskey. The final room of the museum highlighted the rise, fall, and ultimate rise again of Irish whiskey. 

Just like at the Guinness Storehouse and the other whiskey tasting experiences covered in this post, The Irish Whiskey Museum saved the best for last. Time for a tasting! 

We were carefully led through each sample noting the different essences on the nose and flavors hitting different parts of the tongue. 

Bottles of whiskey on the bar at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin

We were advised when to add water and when to drink the whiskey neat (there is a sweet spot for alcohol percentage that allows the optimum flavor of the whiskey to emerge). 

As part of our VIP tour, we even got two whiskey glasses to enjoy at home when we're in the mood for a wee dram.

After our whirlwind tour (the overall experience including the tasting actually lasted a little less than an hour), we took a quick peek in the cafe on site. We watched the bar man create perfectly crafted Irish coffees for all takers. 

The Irish coffee is not included in the price of the tour but the Irish Whiskey Museum definitely looks like a good place to get one. We did our tour late in the day and I didn't want to be up all night so we decided to save this experience for another time. 

Disclaimer: The Irish Whiskey Museum sponsored my visit with a VIP tour for two. However, opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 5 of the Best Places to Taste Whiskey in Dublin
5 of the Best Places to Taste Whiskey in Dublin
Find out the best places to taste whiskey in Dublin. Go on a Dublin distillery tour. Discover the best Irish whiskey in Dublin at the source.
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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