Visiting Guinness and Jameson and Ireland’s top breweries and distilleries
Today John Jameson Whiskey, along with other Irish whiskies such as Powers, Paddy, Midleton, Redbreast, and Tullamore Dew, are actually produced at one central mega-distillery at Midleton, Co. Cork. The modern plant sits next to the Old Midleton Distillery which was established in the early 17th century. A tour of the latter provides close-up views of the mill building, maltings, corn stores, still houses, warehouses, kilns, water wheel, and copper stills, including the largest pot still in the world, with a capacity of 31,648 gallons.
To illustrate the step-by-step whiskey-making process, there is an audio-visual presentation, as well as demonstrations and working models. Afterward, visitors are invited to taste the various products. More information: Old Midleton Distillery, Midleton, C. Cork, tel. 021-461-3594; web: www.tours.jamesonwhiskey.com/Home/The-Jameson-Experience-Midleton.aspx
While in Co. Cork, also head to the Franciscan Well Brew Pub – a micro-brewery that produces its own beer, with names such as Blarney Blonde, Rebel Red and Shandon Stout. There is a large beer garden in the back. More information: Franciscan Well Brew Pub (14 North Mall, Cork City, tel. 021-439-3434); web: www.franciscanwellbrewery.com
Moving on to Co. Clare, the Biddy Early Brewery west of Ennis claims to be Ireland’s first pub-brewery, producing local brews Black Biddy, a fruity Irish stout; Blonde Biddy, a European pilsner-style lager; Red Biddy, a sweet Irish ale; and Real Biddy, a cask-conditioned ale. Visitors can learn more about the beers by taking a tour of the brewery culminating in a tasting session, or watching an A/V. More information: Biddy Early Brewery, Inagh, Ennis, Co. Clare, tel. 065-683-6742); web: www.beb.ie
In nearby Co. Offaly, the town of Tullamore gave its name in the 19th century to a popular whiskey known as Tullamore Dew. Learn more about it at the Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre, housed in the original Tullamore Dew Distillery on the Grand Canal. During the 45-minute guided tour, you’ll also learn how Tullamore Dew got its name, using the initials of one of the early whiskey-makers (Daniel E. Williams). At the end of the tour, a sample of Tullamore Dew awaits all adult visitors. More information: Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, tel. 057-932-5015; web: www.tullamoredew.com/heritage-centre
Locke's Distillery at Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, is a handy stop on the old Dublin-Galway road (N 6). Established in 1757, the original distillery on this site operated for almost 200 years until it closed in 1953. It has since "re-invented" itself and re-opened as a museum of whiskey-making. A 25-minute tour, which must be reserved in advance, traces the step-by-step process, ending in a "tasting room" for a sample of Kilbeggan Whiskey. Today the Kilbeggan brand is still produced, but not on this premises. It is one of the brands offered by Cooley Distillery (below). More information: Locke's Distillery, Lr. Main St., Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, tel. 057-933-2134); web: www.lockesdistillerymuseum.ie