It wouldn’t be fair to call this blog Whiskey and Whims if we failed to deliver on the promise. It’s reasonable to say, if we’ve met you probably already know my strong affinity for dark beer and dark liquors. There is no shortage of either passion in Ireland and I focused my short time in Dublin to zoning in on some of my favorites.
My first stop was the Jameson Distillery, located in its original location on Bow St. in the center of Dublin (they now only produce out of Cork). Luckily, we had a great tour guide who made us laugh, answered all questions about rarities and distilling and of course, provided us with a solid tasting at the end. Personally, I am partial to Red Breast as my go to Irish Whiskey which is distilled by Irish Distillers, the same as Jameson. I’m grateful my family was patient enough for me to sit around drinking the 21yr old and Lustau varients while I relished in the tasting room and the fine selection in front of me. The Redbreast Lustau is finished in Sherry casks and gives a much deeper flavor (in my opinion) of raisins, nuts and a spicy finish. It varies significantly, as one might imagine, from the delicious 21yr aged selection, which I continued to enjoy daily throughout my stay in Dublin.
Next up on my tour was hitting the heart of stouts, the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the originally brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin, the storehouse represents more of a museum to the brand’s rich history for the city. Once the largest employer in Dublin, Guinness is now brewed in over 50 countries.
We were gifted the Connoisseur Experience by a good family friend in the beer business and the tour was a true pleasure. A key highlight is pouring your own pint of Guinness and soaking in the incredible panoramic view of the city at the Gravity bar. It should be noted, this is a key Dublin tourist spot, with crowds of people and a visible long line if you have to wait to buy tickets. Check out the fast track option if you venture to St. James Gate yourself.
Just a quick walk from Guinness (8 minutes) is the overlooked and uncrowded Teeling Distillery. With a long family history of whiskey making the Teeling brothers, Jack and Stephen relaunched their distilling business with the opening of the new distillery in Dublin just two years ago. The location is modern and a gorgeous spot to sneak away in the city. Their Phoenix Café on the ground floor is a perfect spot for a snack or coffee, but let’s be serious, we headed upstairs to the tasting room quickly. Upon arrival, there happened to a group of Irish men, all old friends, singing Irish ballads a cappella. I am quite sure I saw tears in my mother’s eyes. I tasted their single malt and their Revival series, which was made for the opening of the distillery. Aged in bourbon barrels and finished in ex-Calvados casks for a year, the latter was a great way to finish the tour.
There were many pints and whiskeys had as I met new friends along the way, but House Dublin stands out as a killer location for a solid cocktail and probably the best meal I had in Ireland. Their location, just off St. Stephen’s Green, has one of the most incredible outdoor spaces in the city; it is truly enchanting. This spot came as a recommendation from a new Croatian friend currently living in the city who informed me that there was no sign outside, just simply two statues of dogs welcoming you to what essentially looks just like someone’s home. Inside we split many tapas and each one better than the next. I started off with the classic Blood & Sand and fell hard for their Joy Street because I am a sucker for whiskey, figs, and chocolate bitters. Everyone I later mentioned this restaurant to exclaimed “I know, it’s fantastic” or something similar. I felt content finding one of the most incredible spots in the city to nestle into for the night.
We stopped into the Smithwick’s brewery in Kilkenny for a pint. It felt too touristy for me in my mom’s hometown, so we quickly left, skipping the tour. On my last evening in the city, I met up with a few cousins in the outdoor space of the Sullivan’s tasting room. For many of us, it was our first time to the tasting room and their good beer, adjacent bottle shop and outdoor woodfire pizza oven convinced the entire table to return soon after. Below is just a few of my favorite people sharing a laugh.
Needless to say, my trip to Ireland was eventful and full of good beverages. Just to add some balance, here’s the view I had as a drank tea everyday with my aunts and uncles. I am truly one lucky woman.
Cheers! – Ciara