How a drink at the bar becomes so much more: In our November issue, Sarah Blinco shares how she learned about the Irish capital through two of the country’s biggest exports
Dublin, a city that never fails to charm. The people are friendly and funny, the land is green, and architecture is just as you’ve dreamed.
Most people want to visit Dublin – it’s one of those aspirational destinations. This is never more obvious than when you’re lined up with the hordes to enter grand Trinity College or elbowing through a sea of people to hear live music up close in Temple Bar.
Where to start then? There’s countless excellent museums, galleries, tours and even evening ghost walks that will immerse you in the living history of this place. Dublin – like Ireland – is bursting with heritage and intrigue. This old city has witnessed soaring highs and crushing lows as time’s gone by.
On the flight over, a stranger inspired my partner and I to try something a bit different – sample, if you will, Dublin’s past and get acquainted with its future, through the lens of Guinness and whiskey. Challenge accepted. Responsibly of course.
Jameson Whiskey Distillery
The story goes, that in 1780 John Jameson threw open the doors of the Jameson Distillery on Bow street. Over 200 years later, the doors are still open to friends old and new. We loved it here, and it had nothing to do with the Old Fashioned we started our distillery tour with! Let’s just say it was after midday, ok?
Hats off to Jameson – the storytelling, visual production and creative spaces for visitors are simply excellent. A beautifully presented timeline of the whiskey industry and interactive digital features demonstrate how Dublin enjoyed its heyday in the 18th century, and the whiskey business boomed. But difficulties struck. From political troubles and the devastating potato famine, to prohibition in America (critical to whiskey trade) and second World War – these events took a terrible toll on the industry.
Few businesses survived; Jameson is one of them. The team here showed us just how big this operation has been in Dublin, in the past and to this day. Take the tour, taste the wares and feel that little bit more connected to this cool capital.
All the tourists I mentioned, they congregate here – so go early but do go. The Guinness Storehouse is impressive, seven floors high with a sky bar, several tasting areas and interactive sections showcasing the impact this famous brand has had on Dublin’s growth and the world. The highlight for me was pouring my first ever pint. There’s a precise method which should be honoured by all who serve Guinness globally. So naturally skilled am I, that my pint was presented as an example to my classmates in the ‘Guinness academy’. (or maybe it’s because mine was closest to the bartender – secret’s ours, then).
Arthur Guinness founded the brewery back in 1759. His own humble beginnings motivated him to promote human and workers’ rights in his business and beyond. Having a job at Guinness meant you and your family would be looked after. What you’ll take away from the Guinness Storehouse is new appreciation, for Guinness like all the most famous brews, comes with a warming tale, and one that’s uniquely Irish.
Teeling Whiskey Distillery
A hot new player in the old world of Irish whiskey, Teeling opened its doors in 2015. A brave move by entrepreneurs and brothers Jack and Stephen Teeling. Like Jameson and Guinness, Teeling offers a wonderful sensory experience where visitors are immersed in each part of the production process.
Teeling sets the tone with unique flavours and flair all their own, tasty enough to make even non-whiskey drinkers rethink your position. It’s worth topping off your tipple tour by seeing – and tasting – their delicious Irish stories.
You can discover these experiences and more using a Dublin Pass, as we did, or make your way around on foot or via local transport. An Irish adventure awaits! All you need to do, is show up.