Travel: A 48-hour whiskey tour in Ireland

A JAUNT across the water leads to a fun-fuelled, whiskey-imbibing escape on the Emerald Isle, writes Warren Campbell

Warren Campbell visits the Tullamore DEW Distillery. Picture: Warren Campbell/Tullamore

The new Tullamore DEW Distillery, celebrating its first anniversary, marks a significant investment in the Irish whiskey industry and will open to the public for the first time in autumn this year. Having lost much of its global market in the early 20th century, Ireland’s whiskey industry is enjoying a renaissance.

I checked in at the Dean Hotel, a boutique getaway nestled in Dublin. I enjoyed my first measure of Tullamore DEW at the hotel’s bar, before deciding to check out the city’s culinary scene.

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Hidden behind a hot pink door was The Pig’s Ear, a sophisticated dining spot adjacent to the famous Trinity College. I gazed endlessly out the window daydreaming about the college’s notable alumni, who include Oscar Wilde and Chris de Burgh.

Warren Campbell visits the Tullamore DEW Distillery. Picture: Warren Campbell/Tullamore

After indulging in a Galway Hooker or two - a craft beer, honest! - I was presented with a Michelin Star-esque dish, a citrus-coloured Irish salmon, that reminded me of the green and orange in the Irish tricolour.

After a long walk through the city, I stumbled upon The Fumbally Cafe. The cafe occupies a relatively modern building once used for residential purposes. Founders Aisling Rogerson and Luca D’Alfonso pride themselves with their “waste not, want not” approach to dining. Focusing on authenticity and seasonal produce, the foundations of Fumbally’s is the owners’ DIY ethos and their collection of interesting ideas. The team spirit was inspiring to witness first-hand.

I found myself surprised at how forward-thinking Dublin’s foodie scene really is. Throughout the city, dishes were served with pride, flair and creativity. I really felt the energy and drive behind the city’s restaurateurs.

As the evening approached, I reached Sussex Street, home to The Forest Avenue restaurant and M O’Briens bar. Tullamore DEW is flowing; the Dublin atmosphere was intoxicating. A singalong of local favourites Galway Girl and Dirty Old Town began and I started to pick up a rather strange sort of accent as I joined in. I believed it was Irish; others did not.

Warren Campbell visits the Tullamore DEW Distillery. Picture: Warren Campbell/Tullamore

I decided to have a nightcap at the Dean Hotel’s opulent bar before retiring for the night. Little did I know I was about to be treated to one of the finest panoramic views of all of Dublin! Sophie’s Bar, the rooftop terrace of the Dean Hotel, boasts a city view any establishment would kill for. As I peered out the window walls, I noticed the lack of high-rise buildings that tend to be typical of a capital city, which only adds to Dublin’s quirky charm.

I called it a night and bade my first “Irish Goodbye” - a term used for sneaking away from your drinking buddies without them noticing. I could relate.

In celebration of Tullamore DEW Distillery one-year anniversary, I escaped the busy Dublin streets and visit the whiskey’s hometown of Tullamore. What better way to celebrate than a whiskey tasting session?

Tullamore is a medium-sized town in County Offaly with a population of just 15,000. Situated approximately 100km west of Dublin, Tullamore DEW is the town’s most famous export and dates back to 1829. Despite the original distillery’s closure in 1954, the town has maintained a proud association with Tullamore DEW, and its visitor centre has become a popular tourist attraction since opening three years ago.

Warren Campbell visits the Tullamore DEW Distillery. Picture: Warren Campbell/Tullamore

As I arrived at the visitor centre, four malts were sitting neatly in front of me and John Quinn, Tullamore DEW’s global brand ambassador, began his crash course in whiskey maturation. It may be mid-afternoon, but “when in Ireland,” I thought to myself.

I was one of the lucky few to get a sneak peek inside the new state-of-the-art distillery. I haven’t seen a distillery look so tranquil.

Casper MacRae, Tullamore DEW’s global brand director, told me: “The opening of the Tullamore Distillery saw the return to Tullamore a traditional craft passed down through generations of the Williams family. Tonight, we raise a glass to the next exciting chapter in our future.”

Before jetting home, I stopped by The Bernard Shaw bar back in Dublin. The Bernard Shaw is a spot for artists who travel from all over the globe to partake in some street art. Offbeat and off-the-road, Bernard Shaw houses a big blue bus out back selling Italian-inspired cuisine inside. I may not have been allowed to paint the walls, but a 10-foot blank canvas to paint on would have definitely sufficed. “Good luck getting it on the plane home,” I joked.

Warren Campbell visits the Tullamore DEW Distillery. Picture: Warren Campbell/Tullamore

Sláinte, Ireland! Until next time.