Old Jameson Distillery

A tour (and a tipple) of Ireland's most famous whiskey in its historic facotry

Irish monks first practiced the Middle Eastern tradition of fermenting grain in the 7th century. They called it the “water of life”—or, rather, that is the English translation of the Irish uisce beatha ("ish-kay ba’ha")—though we’ve since shortened that to just uisce ("whiskey").

King Henry II’s invading troops bring it back to England with them in 1171; by 1541, it was the favorite drink of Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1780, Dublin has six whiskey distilleries, and the one on Bow Street was producing about 30,000 gallons per year. Then Scottish businessman John Jameson became its general manager (and later owner), and by 1805 it was producing one million barrels of the world’s number one whiskey.

Jameson’s whiskey production moved to Cork in 1971, but the old factory was dusted off and turned into a visitors center.

You can taste-test four of the eight whiskies Jameson’s produces at the bar, but far more fun is the tour, where you get to learn all sorts of fun facts about the Jameson family (the motto on their crest—Sine Metu, or “Without Fear”—was granted them in the 17th century for their skill in pursuing pirates off the Scottish coast) and, of course, all sorts of fun facts about whiskey production.

After fermantaion and aging, all the barrels are poured into a giant vat for five days so as to blend the different flavors the variety of barrels have imparted and ensure the consistency of the final, bottled product, of which 7 million glasses are consumed each year—and that’s just the Jameson’s.

You can volunteer at the end of the tour to be one of the unlucky guinea pigs forced to sample a variety of American, Scottish, and Jameson’s whiskeys and report to the group on the differences—aside from the spelling (the Irish spell whiskey with an “e” before the “y;” everyone else spells it without the “e”—except in Scotland where they spell is s-c-o-t-c-h.)

One last fun, bonus fact (not mention on the tour, but neat to know): One of John Jameons’ sons, Andrew, had a daughter named Annie Jameson who fell in love with an Italian named Giuseppe Marconi. Their second son, Guglielmo Marconi, would go on to invent wireless radio at the turn of the 20th century.



Tours Under $995 G Adventures

Related Articles


Related Partners

This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq

Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.