Whiskey Island was recently delighted to meet with writer T.J. Olwig and have him experience our whiskey trails and introduce him to some of our new distilleries and whiskeys. Here is the article below that he wrote following his visit. This featured in US publication, Private Clubs Magazine…
Must-Sip Irish Whiskeys
Taste them at these just-opened tasting rooms in Ireland
BY T.J. OLWIG — Fall 2019
At the end of the 19th century, Irish whiskey was the most widely consumed spirit in the world. Soon after, a slew of obstacles — including a trade war with Britain and American Prohibition — nearly destroyed the industry, with just three Irish distillers remaining in 1975. But now, on the heels of a global whiskey boom, a new generation of distillers has the Emerald Isle’s ‘water of life’ thriving once more. From Dublin to the Wild Atlantic Way, raise your dram and celebrate this comeback with these must-sips at just-opened tasting rooms.
J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey
Founder Louise McGuane sources whiskey from multiple distilleries, then matches it to a specific cask profile before maturing it in the microclimate of her Kilrush farm. This age-old practice, known as whiskey bonding, made McGuane the first licensed whiskey bonder in Ireland in more than 50 years. In a new tasting room that opened in June in a converted 17th-century barn, guests can now open and sample the nectar directly from casks. Opt for the “Blend Your Own” tour to take home a self-crafted whiskey. Tours $40 to $75. jjcorry.com
Must-sip: The Battalion, the world’s first Irish whiskey matured in tequila and mezcal casks, delivers herbal notes of agave and green grass.
For nine generations, the Scully family has farmed coastal land off Ireland’s southern tip, where sea mist and mineral-rich filtration lend complexity to homegrown heritage barley. In March, on the scenic Wild Atlantic Way in Clonakilty, the family unveiled this distillery and visitors’ center. Shortly after the distillery opened, its Single Batch whiskey took home double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a coup in whiskeyspeak. Tours from $17. clonakiltydistillery.ie
Must-sip: The Port Cask Finish Series uses port barrels from Portugal’s Douro Valley, producing a marriage of peachlike sweetness with a smooth, peppery finish.
The Dublin Liberties Distillery
In February, this new distillery debuted in Dublin’s Liberties district — the home of Irish whiskey — after the head-to-toe renovation of a 400-year-old building, complete with German-imported copper stills that shine like a Walter White fantasy. Master distiller Darryl McNally, formerly of Bushmills, helms a whiskey program emphasizing triple-distilled single malts, a nod to the golden era of Irish whiskey. Tours start with a sampling of honeycomb liqueur, culminating with a diverse lineup in an elegant tasting room. Tours from $18. thedld.com
Must-sip: The 13-year-old Murder Lane, aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and finished in Hungarian Tokaj wine casks, releases aromas of coconut and tropical fruit.
Three miles off the North County Dublin coast, on secluded Lambay Island, a wildlife sanctuary has teamed with Camus — the world’s leading family-owned cognac producer — to craft a unique Irish whiskey inspired by the environment around it. This year, Lambay started offering three-part tastings to small groups (by way of a 25-minute boat ride), familiarizing guests with the nuance of its cognac-influenced spirit. This premium tour in the land of puffins, wallabies, and great grey seals might just be the world’s first whiskey safari. Private tours $3,072, for groups up to 12. lambaywhiskey.com
Must-sip: The Lambay Whiskey Single Malt, a mahogany-brown liquid finished in French oak cognac casks, delivers notes of ripe bananas on the nose and dried berries on the palate.
Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James
Built inside a restored 17th-century church, this other newcomer in Dublin’s Liberties neighborhood is as much an architectural site as it is a hot spot on the city’s whiskey trail. You’re guided through an old graveyard before sampling its “Irish whiskey with a Kentucky flair” beneath stunning stained-glass windows. Tours $22. pearselyonsdistillery.com
Must-sip: Pearse Cooper’s Select, a palate-pleasing blended whiskey aged in bourbon casks and finished in first-fill sherry barrels, evokes notes of raisins, lemon peel, and ginger.
Roe & Co Distillery
Look for this Dublin distillery in the former Guinness power station. Owned by Diageo, it produces a blended whiskey that, after an immersive tour, you can sample in a craft cocktail at the Power House bar. Tour $28. roeandcowhiskey.com
Must-sip: Roe & Co, a creamy non-chill filtered whiskey, reveals a velvety texture and hints of sugar, pears, and vanilla.
Attracting 500,000 visitors per year, the 1,000-acre Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry — about 15 miles south of Dublin City Center — is renowned for its house, gardens, and Ireland’s highest waterfall. Since May, after the restoration of an 18th-century mill house, the new Powerscourt Distillery Visitor Center has been luring whiskey connoisseurs to its six tasting rooms. For good measure, the distillery has paired with master distiller Noel Sweeney, one of just two Irish distillers to be inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame. Tours from $11 to $40. powerscourtdistillery.com
Must-sip: The silky, sweet Fercullen 14-Year-Old Single Malt yields notes of vanilla, honey, and hazelnut.
TOURING TIP: Premium tour operator Whiskey Island offers escorted whiskey tours to Ireland’s four corners. Itineraries include a half-day “Dublin Whiskey Story” tour and a 10-day “Golf, Whiskey & Wild Atlantic Way” itinerary. Plus, all Lambay Island tours must be booked through the company. whiskeyisland.ie
To discover more about Ireland’s whiskey trail and food and drink culture, visit ireland.com.