Photos from the Irish Whiskey Museum are provided by Bruce Campion-Smith
Welcome to the DrinkswithDavid guide to Dublin! I just got back from over two weeks in Ireland and decided to write up some travel recommendations based on things I did in Dublin.
If you’re not into beer then I strongly suggest the Irish Whiskey Museum. It’s located in prime touring country, just across the street from Trinity College. There are three different ticket levels; normal, premium, and the blending experience. I can’t speak for the blending experience but the difference between normal and premium is only about three Euros and it gets you a tasting glass souvenir as well as a fourth whiskey in the tasting portion.
The museum takes you through a history of alcohol and whiskey production in Ireland. One example is the impact on wakes as people would fall into an alcohol coma after drinking local illegal liquor called poitin. Some of these comas would last only a few days and so people would wake up in the coffin at the their own wake.
Another interesting little factoid from the tour was that the number of illegal whiskey stills seized by British authorities in Ireland in 1834 was over 8,000, compared to a number in the 400s for Scotland and less than 200 for England. Distilling in Dublin used to be a huge business and so much was produced that whiskey was stored in storerooms located underneath the street.
The tasting room was great fun, especially for my first proper whiskey tasting. Because I got a premium ticket, along with most of the people on the tour, I tasted four whiskeys. On the tasting list was Glendoulough, Tealing, Powers, and Knappogue Castle 12 years. I was using this as a chance to my future purchase at the duty-free story after landing.
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is something that has to be seen to be believed. The best descriptor was something my sister came up with “It’s like an adult Disneyland.”
It’s seven floors tell the story of beer making as well as the story of Guinness. The first floor is devoted to both the gift shop (because of course it is) as well as a guide to the ingredients that are used to make beer. It was interesting, particularly the focus on local Irish ingredients, including water sourced from the Wicklow Mountains, a series of mountains just outside of Dublin. The first floor culminates in a very dramatic waterfall complete with a bit of wishing pool.
Moving upstairs leads to the story of how Guinness is actually made. The new fact in here for me is that Guinness is made with roasted barley as well as malt. There was also a video series that showed the step by step guide, as well as some handy visuals.
Some other highlights include a whole section on barrel making, and the transportation of Guinness throughout history. Once upon a time the company actually owned barges that were used to transport the beer.
I also took a chance to do some..let’s call it professional development. A tasting room opportunity was provided, although much of the advice boiled down to don’t sip the beer to taste because of the large head. What I would absolutely recommend to anyone who goes to the storehouse take part in the “Guinness Academy.” It sounds fancy but it’s really a chance to pour your own Guinness. Again easier than I thought, tilt the glass until the spout is over the golden harp, pour until beer touches the harp then slowly straighten it up until the beer reaches halfway up the harp. Then set it aside for a minute and a half before topping it up. Easy!
The bar at the top of building, the famous Gravity bar didn’t have a great view on the day I went, since it was grey and raining. Even on a bad day it was easy to see that a whole panorama of Dublin was there for the viewing.
If you’re ever travelling please keep this all in mind and let us know how you enjoyed these places.