Tips for your whiskey tour to Ireland
How to plan a whiskey tour of Ireland
So you like Irish whiskey and you want to go and see where the stuff is made? The cold, hard truth, my dear friend, is you’re becoming a whiskey enthusiast. And that’s what we all are at Whiskydo. Before leaving for your whiskey tour of Ireland, be sure to check out our 10 tips!
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These are our 10 tips to organize the best whiskey tour of Ireland ever. Read through and feel free to contact us if you need any further advice. We love to talk whisk(e)y and help fellow enthusiasts find their whisk(e)y way.
Let’s get straight to it!
1. PREPARE YOURSELF
If you’re up for a whiskey tour of Ireland, you should definitely prepare yourself. Read about and taste as much Irish whiskey as you can before you go. Otherwise you’ll end up spending money and time in the wrong places, drinking the wrong stuff (that is, whiskey you don’t like). There’s a growing variety of fine Irish whiskey on the market: finding your way can be tough if you don’t know the basics. What kind of whiskey is produced in Ireland, what are the leading brands of Irish Whiskey (and the emerging ones), where are Irish whiskey distilleries, what about whiskey bars? You need to get an answer to these and other questions, if you want to make the most of your irish trip.
2. DUBLIN vs THE REST OF IRELAND
Don’t get us wrong: there’s no such thing as an opposition between the two. What we want to say is: unless you have an unlimited amount of time and money, you have to choose. You can’t see it all in a 5 day trip!
In Dublin you’ll have the chance to taste any kind of Irish whiskey you can think of within the city limits. This results in many advantages: you can avoid renting a car, walk to fantastic bars in no time, take a guided whiskey tour or an organized whiskey tasting anytime you want. If you’re in Ireland for just a few days, this is definitely the best solution. It’ll give you plenty of inspiration to come back and explore the rest of the Republic (and the North) at a later time.
REST OF IRELAND
If you have more time, it can be a wise thing to opt for the rest of Ireland (maybe with a small stop in the capital city). In this case, just take it easy and relax. Drive around and visit as many distilleries or town pubs as you can. This will be your precious chance to taste your favorite whiskey right where it’s made: and there’s no better place to do it!
3. CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY!
Let’s face it: going on a whiskey tour of Ireland can be a real bore for non-whiskey enthusiasts. So, to avoid being forced to change your itinerary and your whiskey plans, you have to carefully select your travel companions. And the rule is: choose only fellow whiskey lovers to go on a whiskey vacation. Otherwise, you’ll end up visiting half the distilleries and whiskey spots you planned to. Or hurrying in whiskey bars not to bother people in your party. That’s not the case: whiskey needs time and no pressure to fully reveal itself.
4. GUIDED WHISKEY TOURS OR NOT
This is an easy one. Pick a guided tour if you don’t have time to do the planning or if you don’t trust your whiskey knowledge yet. Even whiskey experts can benefit from a professionally guided whiskey tour: just choose the tour operator/guide that best fits your whiskey needs and you won’t be disappointed. Local guides can show you the best whiskey spots in town and let you discover hidden treasures. Also consider the comfort of being safely driven around and tasting all the whiskey you want with no hassle. Sure, this will cost you more than doing everything on your own, but it’s often a price worth paying for…
On the other hand, go solo if you want to save money or if you a have a well established plan in your mind. Always consider you can’t drink and drive: choose public transport or consider walking if you can.
5. PLAN YOUR WHISKEY DAY
If you want to get the most out of your whiskey tour of Ireland, you’d better carefully plan your day. Chances are you have no time to waste before you go home. Here are some tips on how best to organize your day while hunting for rare whiskey pearls! First, don’t forget to eat… and eat well. If you want to have a satisfying whiskey tasting experience, avoid spicy foods. But don’t deny yourself a hearty meal.
This will keep your stomach protected and its acids at bay. You don’t want to end up with a bad stomach ache on your first day! Also, always stay hydrated (drink a lot of water!) and don’t mess everything up with other alcoholic beverages (yes, you can have your pint of Guinness, though). Do not overdo: we know you want to taste it all and learn as much as you can, but moderation here is the key. Choose a distillery or two and a whiskey bar you want to visit, and that’s it. Don’t forget it: whiskey needs calm and relaxation to open itself to the discerning drinker. Just in case, bring some anti-acids.
6. DISTILLERIES, WHISKY BARS & RESTAURANTS
If you want to delve deep into irish whiskey culture, irish distilleries are the right place to start from. But remember there are countless other places of interest: think about whiskey bars in Dublin or around the country. There’s nothing better than to sit back and just enjoy your favorite one in a cozy irish pub! Also, whiskey can be paired with food in excellent ways: whiskey restaurants are indeed a great place to try something new!
Do your research, learn about the not-to-miss whiskey spots and be sure to hit the right places. Distillery tours are great fun, but can become a bit boring after a while. Most basic tours are going to explain the basics of whiskey making and they provide a great introduction for novices. Consider upgrading to more premium distillery tours if you don’t want to hear the same story over and over again. Again, this will cost you a bit more, but it’ll give you access to better tastings and more in-depth knowledge.
7. BUYING BOTTLES AT DISTILLERIES
Whiskey making is an expensive thing. Distillery visits and sales at distillery shops give great support to the overall business: that’s why they want you to stop after your visit and buy a bottle or two. Our advice is to think twice. There’s no reason in buying on the spot something you can find anywhere else (i.e. at home). Carrying bottles with you can be uneasy, especially if you’re travelling by plane. It’s just not worth it. Besides, this is true only as far as core range expressions go. Don’t hesitate if you run into some limited edition bottling only available at the distillery: you’ll have a special treat to bring home with you. And something you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
8. LEARN YOUR WHISKEY VOCABULARY
This is an essential part of your whiskey education before leaving for Ireland. There is a significant amount of whiskey words out there and you’d better learn your basics. Or you’ll find out you can’t even order at a bar. Or understand what they’re offering you, for that matter. Single malt, single pot still, blended, non-chill filtered, triple distilled… Take your time to have a look at all this: you’ll learn some fun things about whiskey and you’ll be prepared to leave for your whiskey tour of Ireland!
9. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE
Well, so you’re on a tour. And you drink whiskey. Thus the question arises: who’s driving? If you’re not on a guided tour, nor you brought your designated driver along with you, you have to work things out differently. You can choose an accommodation within walking distance of your drinking hangout. Choose public transport or private drivers. Or you can carefully plan your drinking sessions and driving needs, in such a way that you have always a few hours in between. Always remember to eat well and drink water. You always have to be sober when it’s time for a road trip to your next whiskey adventure!
10. CONSIDER SOMETHING ELSE: IRELAND HAS A LOT TO OFFER!
Whiskey is a cornerstone of irish culture and it will lead you to the discovery of a great country. Be sure to plan some non-whiskey activities during your stay: this will help you make your visit more complete and give you a greater picture of the place your beloved drink comes from. Dublin, the northern counties, the Wild Atlantic Way in the west… There’s plenty of possibilities. Take some time to read about Irish history and heritage: your whiskey will taste even better!