How to Make a Whiskey Pilgrimage to Ireland's County Cork
This article originally appeared on FWx.com.
Whether you’re in a Boston pub or a Dublin one, it’s hard to resist the charms of a Jameson alongside your pint. A bottle doesn't get to be the world's most popular Irish whiskey by accident. But take it from us, it is even better straight from the source. While Jameson’s original distillery on Bow Street in Dublin is worth a visit, today the whiskey is distilled in idyllic County Cork — which is never prettier than at this time of year. Here’s how to make a proper Jameson pilgrimage.
All right, let’s start with the whiskey. (You’re in Ireland, mind you, so that’s whiskey — not whisky!) The town of Midleton, around 15 minutes from Cork city right on the Dungourney River, has been home to the Midleton Distillery since 1825. Every drop of Jameson and its fellow brands (including Powers, Paddy, and Redbreast) is produced on-site, in a gleaming state-of-the-art modern distillery that houses the biggest working pot stills in the world. But it’s the historic distillery that visitors get to tour, for a real sense of how the centuries-old whiskey was traditionally produced, from the mills and the maltings to the still house and warehouses.
Of course, no drinker was ever content just to look at spirits being made, so you’ll end the tour with a good measure of Jameson and a comparative whiskey tasting. And if you’re so inclined, hand-fill a bottle of Jameson Select Reserve Cask Strength Black Barrel straight from the cask — up at 59% alcohol currently, one bottle will last you a good long time.
Only in recent years has Ireland started to earn the culinary respect it so deserves, and one of the country’s true highlights is Ballymaloe House. Set on a 100-acre organic farm, Ballymaloe serves as a guesthouse, a restaurant, and a highly acclaimed cooking school all in one. Stop by a cooking demo or half-day course if you have the time — Afternoon Tea & Cakes? Home Butchery & Charcuterie? Plan ahead and you can learn to make Irish soda bread, or collect eggs from the henhouse, or just take a ramble through the idyllic farm.
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Either way, plan on a full meal at Ballymaloe, with a daily-changing menu based around that day’s garden haul, the morning’s best seafood, and the region’s choicest animals, served in a country home that’s charming enough to defy description.
Right between Midleton and Ballymaloe, Castlemartyr Resort is exactly what you hope your Ireland resort will be — a stately manor with sprawling grounds and an honest-to-goodness castle. The 17th-century country manor house sits on a 220-acre estate; take a stroll through the grounds and you’ll find lakes and streams, a striking classical parterre garden, and an 18-hole golf course. Best of all are the ruins of an 800-year-old castle. Catch a glimpse on a misty morning and it’s like something out of a fairy tale.
Despite all its historic trappings, Castlemartyr is still a thoroughly modern resort: an elegant indoor pool with glass walls straight out to the gardens, an ESPA therapy spa, and spacious, well-appointed rooms. The friendly, ornate Knight’s Bar is ideal for either a quick lunch of Ballycotton Bay cod fish-and-chips or a late evening nightcap of Redbreast 15; and even breakfast is exceptional. Skip the Irish soda bread and local cheeses at your own peril.