Ireland is much adored for its literature, poetry and traditional crafts, however, there is one field in which we are venerated above all else – the art of whiskey-making. Considered to be the birthplace of whiskey, Ireland’s distilleries are among the best in the world. The term ‘whiskey’ even comes from the Irish language, a translation of uisce beatha which means ‘water of life’.
If you’re looking to reward high-achieving qualifiers or clients, a day trip to one of the many whiskey distilleries dotted around the country could be the perfect experience to round off your next incentive trip.
Discover our top five Irish distilleries which are celebrated for their unique-tasting whiskey and bespoke tours.
Clare Island Whiskey, Co. Mayo
“Will you go where the spirit takes you?” So asks Ireland’s most far-flung whiskey producer, Clare Island Whiskey, which finds its history rooted in the ultimate West of Ireland location. This unique Mayo spirit may be distilled on the mainland (in the Connacht Distillery in Ballina, to be exact), but Clare Island Whiskey matures on the island after which it is named, located 5km adrift of the Wild Atlantic Way. Convention doesn’t anchor just there. To honour the seafaring tradition of his native island, founder Carl O’Grady has made Clare Island Whiskey the first single malt in Ireland to be aged at sea. The backdrop? O’Grady salvaged The Dolphin, a former island passenger vessel, which today holds a precious cargo of a single cask of single malt. So unique is this process - and Ireland’s watertight production regulations - that the finished product is ultimately labelled as a “spirit drink”, rather than a whiskey. To savour this saga up close, incentive groups can enjoy a bespoke trip from the mainland to Clare Island, where your team will experience a scenic tour, visit The Dolphin itself and most importantly, be treated to a tasting of this most one-of-a-kind vintage.
JJ Corry Irish Whiskey Experience, Co. Clare
If your client or incentive qualifiers think of themselves as whiskey buffs, then perhaps they’ve already gone down the rabbit hole of the artistic Irish whiskey bonding. Bonding is the craft of sourcing new-make spirits and mature Irish whiskey from distilleries across the country before maturing, blending and bottling them to create unique new varieties. And JJ Corry, Ireland’s first new modern whiskey bonder in Co. Clare, is aiming to resurrect this unique tradition. It’s all the brainchild of Louise McGuane, who in 2015 built a bonded rackhouse at her family’s farm, which is now the site of a mouth-watering library of Irish whiskey characters, with spirits sourced from distilleries all over the island. You’ll find them arranged by flavour profile, which ranges from spicy vanilla and ripe banana to tropical coconut and smoky bacon. Distilling has never sounded more delicious!
Micil Distillery, Co. Galway
Not everyone loves the taste of whiskey but, luckily, you’ll find an array of spirits to suit all tastes at Micil Distillery. Operated by Pádraic Ó Griallais, a sixth-generation distiller whose family has been producing spirits for 170 years, Micil is the first distillery to open its doors in Galway in over a century. Located in scenic Salthill, just outside Galway City, Micil produces traditional Irish whiskey, flavourful gin using local botanics, and poitín (Irish moonshine, and the nation’s original uisce beatha). Book a bespoke tour of the distillery to meet the maker and learn the storied history of poitín, from its traditional production method and eventual prohibition to its establishment as a protected drink in the EU. But at Micil Distillery, the proof is literally in the tasting, so you can look forward to savouring it.
Powerscourt Distillery, Co. Wicklow
County Wicklow may well be known as the Garden of Ireland, but as home to one of the most exclusive distilleries in Ireland’s Ancient East, it’s a sure-fire Garden of Eden for whiskey lovers too. Powerscourt Distillery, located just 20 minutes south of Dublin, is where you’ll find many a connoisseur’s favourite, Fercullen Whiskey, masterfully produced. This all takes place in the Old Mill House, the former hub of farming on Powerscourt Estate, which in addition to the custom designed distillery also houses a visitors’ centre, with elegant tasting rooms and an artisan café. Tour the inside and learn about the Fercullen Whiskey range, from its vanilla scented premium blend to an expertly distilled 18-year-old single malt, matured in bourbon casks. After working up an appetite, you can also choose to indulge in a food and whiskey pairing where the hotel’s in-house food historian and dining specialist curates a luxury culinary experience that includes a carefully selected menu of high-quality Irish artisan foods.
Pearse Lyons Distillery, Dublin City
After experiencing all rural Ireland has to offer, why not take in the famous whiskeys of the capital city? In its heyday, Dublin was once home to over 40 distilleries, largely clustered within a one-mile radius known as the Golden Triangle. Today, that very same district is central to the great whiskey revival taking place in the capital, and leading the charge is the Pearse Lyons Distillery. Located in the hallowed grounds of St James’s Church in the trendy Liberties neighbourhood, this family-run operation offers guests the unique opportunity to visit a working distillery, set in a yesteryear chapel. That’s right - imagine gleaming pot stills shimmering beneath stained glass windows. You’ll enjoy a host of decadent pursuits, from signature cocktail experiences to the distillery’s very own gin school, as well as an exclusive and intimate VIP tour. Here, your group can embark on a storytelling journey through the legend and legacy of whiskey in Dublin, including a meeting with the Pearse Lyons master distiller and a tasting of four premium whiskeys at the Pearse’s Place tasting bar, not least the limited edition Pearse 5 Year Single Malt - the perfect parting glass to end your incentive trip.
Explore the world of Irish whiskey by contacting the Meet in Ireland team today and discover how we can help you plan the incentive trip of a lifetime.