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6 distilleries to visit in Ireland’s Ancient East
Include a visit to a distillery on your trip to Ireland's Ancient East.
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Whiskey is as big a part of Ireland's culture and heritage as its archaeological wonders – and has been since the first time Irish monks gathered local ingredients to distill the concoction in the 1100s. Distilleries across the country have opened their doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into production and their unique distilling stories, with many of the biggest and best in Ireland's Ancient East.

For a memorable day out, hop on a tour and taste spectacular whiskeys from some of the regions' finest distillers.

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1Slane Distillery, Meath

Despite only being founded in 2008, Slane Distillery's location on the grounds of historic Slane Castle in County Meath has made it a permanent fixture in Irish history. Set in the original 18th-century stable blocks on the grounds of the impressive castle, the distillery boasts old world architecture as well as state-of-the-art facilities that help to bring their whiskey to life. 

Book yourself in for a tour of Slane Distillery and hear stories of the respected Conyngham family that still call Slane Castle home. Discover how the expert distillers on-site use local ingredients such as fresh water from the River Boyne and barley grown on the estate to master their iconic flavour and walk through a guided tasting of the triple casked whiskey.

If you still find yourself thirsty after your tour, enjoy a drink at the distillery's bar before taking a peek inside the castle itself – the high ceilings of the entryway and the lounge room are definitely worth seeing up close.

Three people walking into the Slane Distillery in County Meath
Soak up the history of Slane Distillery.
2Ballykeefe Distillery, Kilkenny

Based in the birthplace of Irish whiskey in medieval Kilkenny, Ballykeefe Distillery is known not only for their award-winning range of premium spirits but also for their eco-friendly approach to production. Keeping the environment and the quality of their spirits in mind, owners Morgan and Anne Ging craft their beverages in small batches in bespoke handcrafted Italian copper stills. This seals in the distinctive flavour, with all distilling by-products repurposed as animal feed to avoid waste. 

Request a tour of the distillery to sample the whiskey while learning more about each stage of production from the innovators themselves.

A tour of the Ballykeefe Distillery in Co. Kilkenny
Explore the inner workings of Ballykeefe Distillery.
3Highbank Orchards, Kilkenny

Although it's the smallest distillery in Ireland, Highbank Organic Orchards’ passion for distilling and brewing is anything but minor. Operating since the 17th century, the distillery and its apple orchard in County Kilkenny have remained in the Calder-Potts family for the last five generations. 

On the Taste and Tour experience, roam the grounds of the orchard on foot or hop on a tractor train which will guide you through clusters of apple trees. Find out how the experts transform the humble apple into award-winning drinks like their Single Estate organic cider, apple gin and apple brandy before tasting it for yourself. 

Pick up a bottle of their famous Highbank Orchard syrup to spruce up a cheeky fry-up or a stack of pancakes.  

4Jameson Distillery, Cork

Amongst dedicated Irish whiskey lovers, Jameson is always a firm favourite. Founded in Dublin over 200 years ago by John Jameson, the distillery's popularity exploded over the years, forcing them to move production to Midleton in Cork in 1975 to keep meeting the growing demand for their iconic dark drink.

Today, the Jameson Distillery never fails to draw a crowd. To see what the fuss is about, book in for the Jameson Experience Tour where dedicated Jameson Ambassadors walk you through the grounds. You'll see the world's largest distilling pot still, the live maturation warehouse and the Distiller's Cottage while learning about the history of the Jameson family and the work that goes into every glass of whiskey. 

For those looking for a bite to eat, stop by the distillery's on-site food truck for tasty snacks before hitting the Jameson Bar for one last drink. 

Four people enjoying a drink at the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, County Cork.
Sample incredible flavours at the Jameson Distillery in Midleton.
5Powerscourt Distillery, Wicklow

Nestled amongst the natural landscape of the Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, Powerscourt Distillery is home to one of the leading Irish whiskeys in the country. Inside the walls of an almost 300-year-old mill house, meet master distiller Noel Sweeney, quiz him on his long career in the industry and watch as he crafts the whiskey right in front of you. Learn which foods complement which whiskey and savour a glass of their renowned Fercullen Single Malt.

After your tour, get some fresh air with a stroll through the stunning gardens on Powerscourt Estate, keeping your eyes peeled for the Wicklow Mountains in the distance. 

Three people touring the Powerscourt Distillery in County Wicklow.
Enjoy a smooth glass of whiskey at the Powerscourt Distillery.
6Boann Distillery, Meath

Once a town boasting 18 distilleries, Drogheda in County Meath saw this thriving industry disappear from its boundaries in the late 1850s. It wasn't until 160 years later, in 2015, that the Cooney family revived this long lost tradition with the opening of Boann Distillery. With the intention of crafting whiskeys which each have a strong sense of place, Boann Distillery locally source their barley and take water from the River Boyne via their on-site well. 

Take a tour of the grounds and admire their colossal custom copper pot stills, chat with members of the founding family and taste-test their range of rich whiskey and botanically infused gins. 

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