The first time I visited Dublin, I fell in love. With the city…not, like, a hot Irish dude (but man, that would have been great). It was a whirlwind, just a day of exploration, and we ended up mostly avoiding the well-known touristy things. So when a return trip presented itself, I made a point to get out and do both the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery tours.
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The TL;dr version: what to expect at Jameson
The facility is simple, and everything runs incredibly smoothly (note, it’s not a working distillery). The entrance and bar area in particular is beautiful. The standard tour does a good job of incorporating technology in interesting ways, but the actual tour guide experience wasn’t as warm and engaging as I’m used to.
The tasting is the bare minimum…but I would rather have had a good *interesting* cocktail or tasted multiple types of Jameson’s product rather than just regular Jameson and competitive tasting. From what I understand, the more premium tour and cocktail classes are more interesting.
Another Dublin “must”: What It’s Like Visiting Guinness Storehouse
I’d booked my tour online (through my phone, super easy) and managed to accidentally time my visit perfectly—the only time it rained that whole day was while I was inside the distillery! Since this was just a day trip into Dublin from out in the country, I’d gambled on not bringing a jacket, which was definitely ballsy.
The entrance is really pretty, with a copper still out front and some pretty flowers to greet you.
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Jameson is the most well-known Irish whiskey in the world, and they offer tours at the Bow Street location where they were founded in Dublin (but not where they distill anymore).
It’s about a 40-minute tour and then there’s a short tasting. You can hang out at the lovely bar area afterward if you’re inclined and order more interesting drinks. You can learn more about the tour, times, costs, etc. at the official website.
I showed up a few minutes ahead and got in the line. I was there on a Tuesday morning, so while it was June and into peak tourist season, it wasn’t crazy crowded. Our tour group was full or mostly full due to a larger group of friends from Germany all coming together.
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The first stop on the tour is a history timeline of the distillery, the brand, and the family that founded it. Jameson Distillery was started in this spot on Bow Street more than 200 years ago and filled its first order in 1780.
This part of the tour is mostly self-guided, at least at first, but the wall gives you the basics. Its founder, John Jameson, was a Scot who saw an opportunity to bring quality whiskey to Ireland.
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After the history wall, we moved on to a technology-aided storytelling part. Jameson does a really great job incorporating interesting technology to help with parts of the tour, and this was about the early days and founding of the company.
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Then we moved to another room where they talked about the actual distillation process. The company outgrew the Bow Street location a long time ago and moved actual distilling operations out to the countryside, so you can’t see it in action but they try to bring it to life.
They have a cool interactive table where you can see and smell the distillate at different stages, see the ingredients, and generally get a more sensory experience. The guide talks through how the ingredients are combined, the different stills (Jameson is triple-distilled), barrels, and more.
Our tour guide was QUITE strict throughout the tour, in a somewhat surprising way. A big chunk of our group clearly were traveling together and were quite chatty (partly because they spoke a different language, so kept translating for each other), and she repeatedly asked people to be quiet and eventually started threatening to make them leave the tour. It was…surprising.
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The last stop is the tasting. Rather than getting to taste multiple Jameson products (like their Caskmates expression, Cold Brew, etc.) you just taste the regular Jameson and a “blind” scotch and American whiskey (widely acknowledged as Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniel’s). It was fine, but not that interesting.
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From here you’re done and on your own. The regular tour ticket includes a drink at the bar, but only for certain drinks (all of which sounded boring and meh, like Jameson and ginger).
Their bar DOES have some great-sounding cocktails that you can pay for, but it wasn’t even 11am and I was in a hurry to get somewhere so didn’t stay to partake. It’s a beautiful bar area! I believe you’d be able to come and have a drink even if you’re not taking a tour.
The gift shop is not huge but is quite extensive in what it offers. This is the one place where Jameson’s “family” whiskies are shown, like Redbreast (they’re part of Pernod Ricard). You can purchase things like flasks and get them engraved, which is pretty cool as a souvenir.
Personally I don’t think it’s a must-do if you only have one or two days in Dublin, but is certainly fun for a mixed group. If you have real whiskey fans you might think about visiting a smaller and more intimate experience like Teeling (I’ve heard great things) or Slane (about 40 minutes away).
What’s included in the Jameson Distillery tour:
- A standard tour includes a 40-minute tour with a Jameson Ambassador that delves into the whiskey-making ingredients and process as well as brand history.
- At the end of the tour you get a comparative whiskey tasting against a well-known scotch and American whiskey, and then a free drink ticket for JJ’s bar (only good for meh drinks in my opinion though).
- JJ’s bar has other cocktails you can purchase, including several that sounded quite cool. I was on a tight timeframe at that point (and it was before noon) so I skipped.
- You can see updated prices, tour times, special tours (like a more in-depth one and cocktail classes) on their website.
Other high-proof adventures you’ll love:
- A Whiskey Pilgrimage: Visiting The Historic Jack Daniel’s Distillery
- Visiting Louisville’s Rabbit Hole Distillery
- On the Scotch Whisky Trail: GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh
- History & Bourbon At Louisville’s Old Forester Distillery
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