Sample Irish Whiskey at the Old Jameson Distillery Tour in Dublin, Ireland

Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, it’s the perfect time to post about Jameson and Guinness tours in Dublin, Ireland.  When visiting Dublin, a trip to Jameson and/or Guinness is almost always in the cards, even if you aren’t a big drinker.  I will be the first to admit I know very little about whiskey, scotch, bourbon, etc. as they are not really my beverage of choice.  This would be an opportunity to learn about whiskey and why not go into it with an open mind.

Street sign on the way to the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin

Jameson Distillery Tours in Dublin, Ireland

Since we were only in Dublin for a couple of days, we had to take full advantage of our time and schedule activities accordingly…Jameson tour at 9am! What a “spirited” way to start off the day!  Our group was relatively small and mostly made up of men in their 50-60′s, which was quite a contrast to the image I had conjured up of a gigantic group of 20-somethings who were ready to party and get drunk.

Historic cask used to make initial Jameson Irish Whiskey in 1780

JJ's Bar where you wait for your tour to commence

Purchasing tickets with Dublin Pass entitles you to a discount

When the tour first started, our guide asked for several male and three female volunteers to do a side-by-side tasting and comparison after the tour and surprisingly, not a lot of people volunteered.  Brett was chosen and they ended up short one female volunteer.  After some prodding, our guide Niall talked me into volunteering.  This would definitely be interesting!

The tour itself was very educational and I was immediately entranced listening to how similar the whiskey-making process is to wine making.  Who knew? Probably lots of people except me!  Our guide Niall was very knowledgeable, humorous, and a bonus for me — very familiar with California wines and the wine making process.

The Old Jameson Distillery guides take you on an hour-long tour explaining the seven steps of Irish whiskey making and Jameson’s history.  Stops include talks about ingredients, malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.

Niall talking about how Jameson is made

Jameson is said to be the number one selling whiskey in the world and is available in over 110 countries!  The whiskey is triple distilled, giving it a nice smooth finish, ultimately helping Jameson earn respect as one of the world’s finest whiskeys.

The location in Dublin is no longer a working distillery, but it is the site of the original Jameson Distillery from its founding in 1780.   There are restored machines and they’ve recreated scenes of what the distillery looked like in its working days.  Despite not being a working facility today, it’s definitely one of the better alcohol related tours I’ve experienced since it was not a visitor center constructed just to house tours.

After the tour concludes, you are given a taste of Jameson to enjoy at your leisure — straight or with a mixer.  We were immediately taken for what I call the “men versus women” side by side tasting of American Whiskey, Jameson, and Scotch Whisky.  Contrary to my initial thoughts, this ended up being fun!  I finally understand what led to my conclusion that I don’t like whiskey — Jack Daniels sucks! :-)

Pick your choice of Jameson samples to try after your tour concludes

Side-by-side whiskey tasting

Looking at the three drinks side by side, the color of the Jameson is much lighter and more golden than the other two.  When you compare tasting notes and try the whiskey varieties side by side, the quality of the Jameson really shines.  The Jack Daniels was like swallowing a bottle of drain cleaner.   The scotch was decent, but my preference was Jameson, hands down.  Brett liked the scotch as well — definitely had a much more smoky quality — something I like in wine, but apparently not in whiskey.  Scotch is dried using peat smoke, which is what imparts its typical smoky quality whereas Jameson has a nutty quality that is achieved through the use of toasted barrels in aging — just like wine.

After you are done with the tasting, you get a fun certificate certifying you as a whiskey tester….wonder if I could add that to the resume? :-)  If you have the opportunity to volunteer — do it — especially if you are on the fence about whiskey like I was.

Erin with her certificate

At this point, the tour is over and you have time to check out the gift shop, enjoy lunch at the restaurant, or if you’re up for it — buy some more Jameson drinks!  Since we were headed to Guinness next, we played it safe and contained ourselves to just the gift shop, which turned out to be quite an expensive venture!

Jameson available in the gift shop

The Jameson Gift Shop is filled with lots of bar goodies, Jameson barware, magnets, souvenir clothing, and of course, special bottles of Jameson.  What ultimately sparked an unintentional tradition; we purchased a special limited edition 12 year aged reserve available from the distillery only.  The bottle comes engraved and packaged in a branded canister.  For whiskey connoisseurs, this is definitely the one to bring home.  We purchased it because it was only available from the distillery, making it a special find versus walking into the nearest liquor outlet back home to pick up a bottle.

Our special 12 year aged Jameson Irish Whiskey that comes personalized

More goodies in the Jameson gift shop

I’m not sure if Niall does all the tours each day, but I would highly recommend calling ahead and trying to schedule based on the tours he is running.  Niall is a wealth of Jameson knowledge and just one of the most fun and entertaining guides you will find.  His sincere passion for the craft and the brand adds credibility to the tour information presented.

Erin and Brett with Niall

Tour details:
Address: Bow Street, Smithfield Village, Dublin 7
Phone: +353 (1) 8072348
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00am – 6:00pm (last tour is 5:15pm) Sun 10am – 6:00pm Closed: Good Friday, Dec 24th, Dec 25th, Dec 26th
Price: 8 Euros each

Website: Tours Jameson Whiskey Distillery

Wheelchair accessible and tour leaflet is available in English Braille.  Non-English tours are only available by advance arrangements.

See all photos in the gallery below:

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