A tour and a tipple at Old Jameson’s Distillery

It’s not often I’m faced with four shots of whiskey at 10:30 in the morning. After just five hours of sleep, I sat looking at them and wondering how I’d got there.

Just before 10 we walked through the aged stone arch of the Old Jameson’s Distillery. The entrance hall was warm wood, copper, a bar and shop. We booked ourselves onto the next tour (last two spots!) and soon our group of around 40 filed into a cinema for a promo film.

After ten minutes of self-aware acting on a green-screen background we had the gist of it: at its heyday Jameson’s was the largest whiskey distillery in the world; they invested in technology and got ahead during the times of Benjamin Franklin; they triple-distilled their spirits; and they used a scentless smoke to allow the barley’s true flavour to come out.

The Bow Street distillery is no longer in operation so there were no long walks between sections of the premises. Everything’s been custom built to help their guides take you through the distilling process and highlight some of Jameson’s special qualities. In these cases a good guide is essential — and ours was excellent. He had the right mix of warmth and humour, hospitality and helpfulness.

Within 30-40 minutes you find yourself at the bar — each entry gets you a complimentary glass of Jameson’s or a whiskey cocktail. In addition, eight volunteers are chosen at the start of the tour to do a “tutored” comparative tasting.

And that’s how I found myself sitting down with two measures of Jameson’s, a scotch, and a bourbon for breakfast… I can highly recommend it.

As a wine and spirit lover, I’ve done a lot of winery and distillery tours. Jameson’s have done a great job of clearly illustrating their process with colourful stories and characters. Even though I tend to prefer touring real operations, I can’t deny this is one of the best spirits tours I’ve done worldwide.

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