Upon arrival in the Jameson Distillery of Dublin you’re immediately confronted with the juxtaposition between the old and the new. Underfoot are the stone foundations of the first wash barrels of the distillery while overhead a futuristic countdown lets you know when the next tours are leaving. The Smithfield building is no longer home to the distillery that made its name but the tour is constructed around the layout of the old distillery and contains some impressive relics from the original building.
The Old Jameson Distillery Entrance
Your tour starts in the movie theatre where a ten-minute film gives you a look at what the distillery would have looked like back in the 19th century as a New York reviewer of yesteryear encounters various Dubliner characters on his hunt to meet the venerable Mr. Jameson. It’s funny and informative, if a little cheesy.
Then, whiskey lovers will have to raise their hands in the hopes of being chosen as whiskey tasters at the end of the tour–a luxury you would hope would be afforded to all members of the tour considering the price. One benefit of the distillery no longer operating in the building is that the rooms aren’t overheated and the smell of evaporated alcohol doesn’t hang in the air, something which can prove cloying and distracting. Much emphasis is placed on the personality of Mr. Jameson himself, both during the movie and the tour. When you reach the room that details the nicknames and jokes amongst the families of coopers in the distillery, this attention to detail pays off and it feels like you get a nice insight into the types of people that populated the distillery at the turn of the last century.
Then, you are finally treated to a Jameson drink all your own. You can sip it neat, on the rocks, or with a variety of mixers (ginger ale and Coca Cola, for example.) The tasting session pits Jameson against leading brands of Scotch and American whiskey, and while it's clearly contrived, you'll almost surely find that Jameson comes out on top in terms of smoothness. By the end of the whole affair, if you were one of the visitors lucky enough to be chosen for the tasting, you'll leave with a ‘Certified Whiskey Tester’ certificate and a warmth in your belly to show for it.
The Jameson Distillery Logo
The Jameson Distillery now features "Shindig" nights that run from Thursday to Saturday. Starting at 7pm, these events are comprised of a tour, a cocktail, a four course dinner, traditional music, and performances from the classic Riverdance. If you want a more rounded, traditional experience with an emphasis on whiskey, then this evening might be a more suitable choice than the basic tour option. Otherwise, I would seek out some of the Dublin pubs that offer comparative whiskey tastings and often have a "Whiskey Champion" on standby to discuss them with you.