In light of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday (i.e., my favorite holiday after my birthday!), I am writing all about Dan and my vacation to Ireland over Christmas and New Years! On this trip, since we visited with a number of Ireland first timers and whiskey lovers, we visited three whiskey distilleries in Dublin! This is my comparison of the three, after having visited each multiple times.
JAMESON BOW STREET EXPERIENCE
Ah, the Jameson Bow Street Experience, also known as the “Jameson Distillery tour” in Dublin. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin. Dan and I have done the Bow Street Experience a few times, and its definitely changed over the years. However, Jameson continues to be our least favorite of all the Dublin whiskey tours… Its too Disney-fied for us – too much fluff, not enough whiskey. That being said, the Jameson tour is still very fun and recommended for those wanting to check this off the ole’ bucket list. For those not wanting to do the tour but traveling with those who do, the good news is that the tour is only 45 minutes and there is a lovely bar where non-touring guests can wait out the 45 minute tour.
For those doing the Jameson Bow Street Experience tour, I highly suggest buying your tickets online in advance. The Bow Street Experience is popular and it fills up, especially during popular times. On arrival, whether or not you have tickets, you enter the Bow Street complex and walk straight back to the tour desk, where you either buy tickets or exchange your online ticket for a hard ticket, which entitles you to join the tour and a free drink (for before, after or during the tour (yes, you can take a cocktail on the tour) ! ). Due to this required check-in step, I suggest arriving at least 15 minutes early to ensure you make your tour time.
Tours run constantly throughout the day, so guests need to listen for their particular tour. Once called, about 30 guests move into a small room, with seating, where you learning about the history of the Jameson distillery and whiskey making in Dublin. Seating is available if you need it, but try to go in first if seating is necessary. This portion of the tour lasts about 15 minutes. The tour then moves into a standing-room only smell and touch experience, where guests learn how Jameson whiskey is made. The tour finishes with a 15 minute tasting of three Jameson whiskies, and lets guests out into a fabulous Jameson gift shop, which opens up into the bar.
Guests can stay at the bar for as long as they desire. The bar is usually crowded and can get loud.
Pros: Jameson is the most tourist-easy of the Dublin distilleries. Technology forward – a very “Disney” experience. This is the most suitable/interesting experience for those not of drinking. Great gift shop. Heavily associated with “bucket list Dublin.” Instagrammable.
Cons: The Bow Street Experience is not a working distillery. This tour is certainly geared to tourists – not whiskey enthusiasts (I find it “dumbed down” for whiskey enthusiasts). This is Dan and my least favorite distillery tour in Dublin. Jameson can be very crowded.
PEARSE LYON DISTILLERY
Pearse Lyon is a new-ish distillery in Dublin, having only opened in 2017. Unlike Jameson, Pearse Lyon’s owners have roots in Kentucky, USA. In fact, they started and own a successful distillery there. What’s super interesting about Pearse Lyon in Dublin is its location – inside an old, gorgeous, historic church, complete with its own graveyard. Yes, that’s right, Pearse Lyon is located on the same property as St. James Church and graveyard.
Pearse Lyons’ tours, like Jameson, run about 45 minutes, and booking in advance is highly recommended due to limited numbers. The Pearse Lyons tour begins with a video about the distillery and Dublin historic distilleries, complete with a small sample of whiskey. The tour then moves outdoors to the graveyard, for a history lesson, and eventually inside the church to see the distilling facilities and have a tasting. The church is really interesting; traditional stained glass windows have been replaced with whiskey making scenes and the tasting area has been made to resemble a small Irish town. Very charming.
Pearse Lyon’s tasting offers between 3 and 5 samples of whiskey (depending on cost of ticket) and, like Jameson, ends with an opportunity to purchase souvenirs in the gift shop.
Pros: Super interesting setting with lots of history. Very photogenic. Probably one of the most interesting distilleries anywhere. Easy to pair with a Guinness tour due to location. This tour would be interesting for non-drinkers.
Cons: Focus on history rather than whiskey (IMO, perhaps a pro to some!). The distillery makes fantastic gin (read about our Gin School Experience here), but it’s largely left out of the tour. The tasting options consist only of whiskey, no cocktails.
Like Pearse Lyon, Teeling is a newish distillery in Dublin, having opened back in 2015. In fact, Dan and I visited Teeling for the first time in 2017. The interesting thing about Teeling compared to other distilleries in Dublin, is that Teeling is an actual, working distillery. Its also family owned, and the family patriarch used to adjunct teach at the University of Richmond (my alma mater). And, fun fact, there was a Teeling distillery in Dublin in the 1700s…although I think this one is mostly unrelated.
Teeling runs daily tours of its production facility, which last 45 minutes. The tour starts with a history lesson concerning Dublin and whiskey production. When we visited, very excitingly, and surprisingly, John Teeling himself (yes, the owner!), came and gave the introduction to our tour. This was awesome – Mr. Teeling was very cool and passionate about his whiskey. He was also super nice and agreed to take lots of photographs with us after the tour once he found out that three people in our party went to the University of Richmond!
After the history lesson, the tour moves into the production facility, where the whiskey stills are named for the three Teeling granddaughters!
The tour ends with a brief walk through the rest of the distillery and ends with either a tasting of whiskey and a whiskey cocktail or a selection of multiple whiskies (depending on the ticket). I opted for the cocktail tasting and it was fantastic!
After the tour and tasting, guests have the opportunity to order additional drinks at the Teeling Bar, have a snack or coffee at the downstairs coffee bar and shop in the cool gift shop. All of these things are open to guests not taking the tour, and I highly recommend the bar’s cocktails even if you are not taking the tour. I tried the Caramel Cold Brew on this tour, and it was so delicious!
Pros: Teeling is a real working distillery in the middle of Dublin. Visitors get to tour the production facility. Excellent cocktail bar on site. This is our favorite distillery tour in Dublin. Cool, hip vibe in the distillery.
Cons: Not much seating during the tour. Since its a working distillery, closed-toed shoes required and parts can be loud (to the the distilleries production activities). There is not much to occupy the children here.
STEAL OUR DISTILLERIES
Jameson Bow Street Experience: Bow St, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 N9VH, Ireland. Open daily 10:30 – 6:00 Monday – Friday, 10:00 – 7:00 on Saturday, 12:00 – 6:00 on Sunday. The standard tour and tasting is around 30 euro.
Pearse Lyon Distillery: 121-122, James St, The Liberties, Dublin, D08 ET27, Ireland. Open daily 11:30 – 6:00. The standard tour and tasting starts at 20 euro and goes up to 30 euro depending on tasting.
Teeling Distillery: 13-17 Newmarket, The Liberties, Dublin 8, D08 KD91, Ireland. Open daily 11:00 – 6:00, until 7:00 on Saturday. The standard tour is 18 euro and goes up to 30 euro depending on tasting.
2 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Distilleries in Dublin”
We never made it to Pearse Lyon, but Teeling was definitely our favorite. I tried to sneak out one of those HUGE chandeliers from Jameson under my jacket, but it didn’t work out. I love your updates! Hope you and Dan are well.
I would love one of those chandeliers from Jameson! Right in my house LOL. They were just beautiful.