Although it is a day early, Happy St Patrick’s Day! I usually do a random assortment of my favourite pictures from my year living in Dublin but this year I decided to narrow it down- March is when you start to see those stereotypical lists of “17 Things to Do In Dublin”, and without fail the Guinness Factory Tour is listed. While the Guinness Tour is enjoyable, I’ve got to say that the Jameson Distillery tour is certainly superior, (this isn’t because I’m a whiskey drinker who despises beer…) and here is why…
To book yourself a tour at the Jameson Bow Street Distillery, you can either book it online or in person. I would recommend booking ahead if you have a tight schedule or plan on going on a holiday! You can also get a small discount if you show your student card when booking (always helpful). The Jameson Distillery Tour is a guided tour, while the Guinness Tour is self-guided. I find that with any guided tour, you get more personality, more information (without it being overwhelming), and a more complete experience. I’ve done the Jameson’s Tour three times through now, and all three of my guides were funny, knowledgeable, and all around interesting people.
You begin the tour with a short movie on the start of Jameson and the general process for distilling whiskey. It’s actually really well made and paints a picture of Dublin in the eighteenth century. Then you head off and make your way through the tour! The Bow Street Distillery is no longer functioning, which means that you can actually see each step of the process. Without giving too many spoilers, the malt is distilled multiple times and aged in specific (legally dictated) types of barrels for several years.
Cats like this one kept mice out of the grains (a very real part of storing grains)! I enjoyed that this tour allowed for more “little tidbits” than the Guinness tour- things like this tend to get lost in a self-guided tour, but with the right tour guide it makes the experience!
The washback is where the alcohol comes to be- the mash (from the grain) meets the water for the magic to begin. The actual washbacks used in the disillery process were 30 feet tall, and needed to be scrubbed clean regularly. This task would go to the unlucky apprentice who happened to be late or sleeping on the job. It was a fairly dangerous job- due to the size you would need a candle for light while you were lowered down, but a candle with alcohol is no bueno! According to my first guide, everyone avoided it like the plague!
At the end of your tour, you are supplied with your own taste of Jameson’s famous whiskey to try for yourself. You can drink it straight or with mix- I went with a Jameson and ginger with a taste of lime! There are always three or four people picked from each tour to do a taste test at the end between an American whiskey, a Scottish whiskey, and an Irish (Jameson, obviously…). This is always greatly entertaining to see, especially when it’s an American who believes that Jack Daniels is the height of whiskey. (Yes, I’m a whiskey snob- my drink of choice is Jameson or Crown Royal, both incredibly smooth and pleasant.)
It’s not as busy because all tours have to be booked into a group, it’s a more enjoyable experience because your tour guide is there to ensure that you enjoy yourself, and you still get to enjoy an Irish beverage just the same! You will also avoid the massive hordes of tourists flocking to it. So, enjoy your whiskey or your pint and toast to Ireland, happy St. Patrick’s Day!