When you think of Dublin, Ireland, two things come to mind: Guinness Larger and Jamison Whiskey. On a recent trip, I got to explore these Irish staples and raise a glass to their legendary heritage.
Bow Street was the original home of the Jamison Distillery back in 1780. Although the distillery is now located in Midleton, Cork County, Jamison continues to distill their famous liquid gold. The whiskey starts with three simple ingredients: malted and unmalted barley, maize, and water from the Dungourney River.
The Bow Street Experience Tour is a fully guided immersion into John Jameson’s life as the premier distiller of whiskey. He focused on the highest quality ingredients and a triple distillation process that created an exceptionally smooth spirit.
Groups are kept to thirty or less allowing an intimate setting. A short film explains the brand’s humble origins and how it has grown over the past two hundred thirty-seven years to become Ireland’s best-selling brand. A Jamison ambassador walks you through the triple distillation process as you encounter barley grains, copper distilling vats, and the seasoned oak barrels where it ages for four years.
As you might expect, with such a storied history, the Jamison brand now produces eight different whiskeys. Ranging from its original, which Jamison describes as a perfect balance of spicy, nutty and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness to its Rarest Vintage Reserve a mellow sweetness and toasted wood are complemented by fruit richness, characteristic of the port casks. A touch of creamy dairy fudge and dark chocolate add to the complexity.
At the end of the forty minute tour, we enter the tasting room. Here the group is taught how to deconstruct the flavor profiles of three whiskeys, a single malt American whiskey, a double malt Scottish whiskey, and finally the triple distilled Jameson whiskey.
Afterwards, spend some time in JJs Bar, where you can have a drink on the house. My pick was a mixed cocktail of Jamison whiskey, ginger ale and a twist of lime. I can’t think of a more refreshing conclusion and a great place to mingle and chat with newfound friends.
Just across the Liffey River at St. James Gate stands the Guinness Storehouse. Built in 1902 as a formation plant, it was used until 1988. In 2000, the site opened as a seven-story attraction celebrating the world famous stout. The tour begins on the first floor where a copy of the nine thousand year lease signed by founder Arthur Guinness is on display and a warm welcome from a member of the staff.
Now you are able to explore at your own pace. The self-guided tour takes from the selection of Guinness’ four ingredients: barley, hops, yeast, and water to a demonstration of the brewing process. You can also learn how the larger has been transported around the world in an exhibit called cooperage and transport. An entire floor is dedicated to the eighty years of imaginative advertising campaigns. Here you will find print, TV and digital adverts including some fun displays, signs and marketing props spanning the decades giving you a sense of how far-reaching the love of Guinness has become.
Stepping back into history is fun, but let’s drink! The Guinness Storehouse offers two experiences for the beer lover you don’t want to miss. At the Guinness Academy, you can learn the six steps to pouring the perfect pint. It takes 119.5 seconds according to our teacher. After completion of the task, you are given a certificate of merit which is a fun memento to take home and you get to enjoy you a freshly poured pint! The Guinness Taste Experience takes your taste buds on a journey to experience various Guinness varieties from its original stout to its porters and IPAs.
When you eventually reach the seventh floor you arrive at The Gravity Bar. Here you can redeem your ticket for a free pint. The glass-walled bar affords a three hundred sixty degree view of Dublin and it worth the trip for the scenery alone.
Along with a gift shop, you can also choose from four cafes and restaurants. Part educational, part historical and part interactive, the Storehouse is a fun place to spend an afternoon and become immersed in the brand that is synonymous with Ireland.