Whether you are a group of friends looking to finally catch up after months of isolation or a couple looking for a new date spot, Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres can be great places to check out and to get back into the spirit of discovery and friendship.
Distilleries and visitor centres are not just for whiskey fans – they offer a cultural and historical experience, where visitors can learn about how whiskey is made, the history of the local area, taste whiskey and sample local cuisine.
After decades of decline Irish whiskey has been enjoying something of renaissance in recent years with increases in domestic and global sales.
The Irish whiskey industry had a successful 2019 with 143 million bottles (nearly 12 million cases) of Irish whiskey sold globally, a doubling of sales since 2010, along with a record one million people visiting Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres.
However, like many industries, Irish whiskey has been hit hard by Covid-19 with the closure of restaurants, bars and visitor centres
New visitor experiences
But the Irish whiskey industry is here to stay and is bouncing back by encouraging people to ‘get back into the spirit’ by visiting a distillery and visitor centre to experience the unique offering they provide.
Over one-third of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres have re-opened in the past two weeks, with another third due to re-open before the end of July.
In the wake of Covid-19 many distilleries and visitor centres have redesigned their tour offerings to comply with social distancing measures and provide a more intimate tourist experience. So, visitors can be confident they can enjoy a fun day out on a distillery tour while adhering to social distancing.
Smaller tour sizes, bespoke whiskey and food tastings, intimate cocktail-making classes and collaborations with local businesses are just some of the ways distilleries and visitor centres are adapting their offerings as they reopen.
Some of the reopened distilleries are offering a ‘Bottle Your Own’ experience, where visitors can bottle their own 10-year-old single malt cask and later tours on Friday and Saturday evenings to allow visitors to follow their tour with a meal in a neighbouring restaurant.
Distilleries and visitor centres that have reopened to date include:
- Clonakilty Distillery, Co. Cork
- Roe & Co. Distillery in Dublin
- Tullamore Dew, Co. Offaly
- Dingle Distillery, Co. Kerry
- Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Newmarket, Dublin 8
- Powerscourt Distillery, Co. Wicklow
- Jameson Distillery, Bow Street, Dublin 7
- Jameson Distillery, Midleton. Co. Cork (pictured above).
More distilleries and visitor centres are due to open in the coming weeks with a brand-new range of tour options and attractions for visitors to experience.
- Pearse Lyons Distillery, James's Street, Dublin 8 – reopening 20th July
- Skellig Six18, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry – reopening 20th July
- Roe & Co Distillery, James's Street, Dublin 8 – reopening 6th August (pictured above)
- Kilbeggan Distillery, Co. Westmeath – reopening 31st July
- Connacht Distillery, Ballina, Co. Mayo – reopening 31st July
- Blackwster Distillery., Ballyduff, Co. Waterford – reopening 8th August.
Even more distilleries will open later this year. Watch this space ...
Ideal option for a day out
With the foreign travel restrictions in place and a surge in staycations expected, distilleries and visitor centres are the ideal place for people to have a fun day out.
Up until now, international visitors to Ireland have flocked to distilleries and visitor centres on the basis of their worldwide reputation as exciting and enjoyable attractions where people can learn how Irish whiskey is made and explore the influence of the people and place in crafting our unique national spirit.
Last year a record one million people visited distilleries and visitor centres. Over 87 per cent of those visitors were from overseas. But due to Covid-19 the international tourism market has virtually disappeared.
Therefore, distilleries and visitor centres across the country will be relying heavily on domestic visitors to help them recover from lost business due to the lockdown. So, why not plan a fun day out to a distillery and visitor centre and know that you are supporting Irish business get back on its feet.
There are distilleries and visitor centres dotted right around the country making them the perfect destination for a road trip with friends or a new place to plan a date.