On Our Wanderlist: Whiskey-Lover's Ireland by Amy Cassell


Pictured from left to right: Dublin's Teeling Distillery, Ashford Castle, The Cliffs of Moher.


Distillery tours, castle overnights, and one wild detour.

With help from Virtuoso Wanderlist, our new trip-planning tool that lets travelers find vacation ideas and add them to easy-to-organize lists – the Virtuoso Life team is sharing their top picks in the places they can’t wait to visit. See all of our lists here.

It all started with the go-to cocktail of my twenties: Jameson and ginger, please. Since then, my taste for Irish whiskeys has expanded – and my home bar is a love letter to this “water of life.” I want to visit some of Ireland's best distilleries and learn more about my favorite spirit. Throw in spectacular seaside vistas and overnights at grand estates, and Ireland is sure to go down smooth.

A Dublin Distillery Crawl

In the mid-nineteenth century, Ireland was the whiskey capital of the world, but practically all of its distilleries ceased production in the decades that followed. There’s been a renaissance in recent years, including in Dublin, where the Liberties neighborhood is home to several distilleries. On my list: Teeling Whiskey, which, in 2015, was the first new distillery to open in the city in 125 years, and Pearse Lyons, on the grounds of a twelfth-century church.

Blend Your Own Whiskey

I’m inevitably going to buy numerous whiskeys to ship home. But the coolest souvenir? My own custom batch. At Dublin’s Roe & Co, which is housed in the former Guinness Power Station and looks like a retro, whiskey-distilling science lab, visitors learn the art of blending in a 45-minute class.

On Our Wanderlist: Whiskey-Lover's Ireland by Amy Cassell, Bergen County Moms
Dublin's Temple Bar | Photo Credit: Richard James Taylor

A Proper Pub Break

Everyone has that friend who’s visited Dublin only to return and casually proclaim at happy hour, “The Guinness just tastes better in Ireland.” (Just me?) I need to test this theory for myself, and a guided afternoon pub crawl to some of Dublin’s most legendary watering holes – The Brazen Head, Johnnie Fox’s, The Temple Bar – should do the trick.

The Shelbourne

Home base for the Dublin leg of my trip is the 265-room Shelbourne, one of the city’s oldest hotels. Original Waterford Crystal chandeliers and antiques adorn suites overlooking the garden or Saint Stephen’s Square; downstairs, bartenders lead Irish whiskey tastings in the Horseshoe Bar.

On Our Wanderlist: Whiskey-Lover's Ireland by Amy Cassell, Bergen County Moms

The Authentic Jameson Experience

The Jameson Distillery on Dublin’s Bow Street sounds a bit like Ireland’s adults-only Disney World (it’s one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions), so I’ll skip it in favor of a drive to the more off-the-beaten-path Jameson Distillery Midleton in County Cork.

Single-Pot Sipping

There are currently 38 operational whiskey distilleries in Ireland, according to the Irish Whiskey Association. I can’t hit them all, but The Shed Distillery, Kilbeggan, and Glendalough are definitely on the list. All three are known for their single-pot still distilling, an only-in-Ireland practice that results in a sharper, spicier finished product.

Ashford Castle

When in Ireland, one must spend the night in a castle. County Mayo’s storybook, 83-room Ashford Castle will do. Extra credit for sticking to the theme: The sprawling, 800-year-old estate was once the home of Benjamin Lee Guinness (yes, that Guinness).

Drive the Wild Atlantic Way

I’m dedicated to my mission, but it can’t be all whiskey – so I’ll take one day off. I’d love to road-trip down the Wild Atlantic Way to the Cliffs of Moher, about two hours’ drive from Ashford Castle. Stretching for five miles, the verdant natural wonders are one of the country’s most scenic attractions – and I’ll admit it, perfect for the ’gram.


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Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, is a lifelong globetrotter who has visited more than 40 countries. With an initial no fee consultation, Elena’s strengths lie in getting to know her clients and executing detail-oriented, completely customized itineraries for couples and families. She specializes in luxury hotels and resorts, and her extensive industry network allows her to negotiate amenities, upgrades and VIP status for her distinguished client base. Through her decades of testing out hotspots first-hand, her product knowledge of beach destinations, Europe and even African safaris, she is well-versed to take on creating a trip in practically any corner of the world. Learn more about the benefits of working with Elena via website or email: Elena@smartflyer.com.