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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

Irish Whiskey Trail

Tour Ireland from Dublin to the north coast in search of the water of life.

The history of whiskey in Ireland goes back to the mid 12th century and just four distilleries survive to the present day. The oldest licensed distillery is in fact at Bushmills in County Antrim. Irish whiskey is traditionally “triple distilled” – one more stage than nearly all Scotch whisky – and is rarely peated. (And as you can see it’s spelled with an ‘e’, whereas Scotch isn’t!)

Our Irish Whiskey Trail covers three contrasting distilleries and places; from the vibrant city of Dublin – the home of the new Teeling Distillery – to the historic Kilbeggan distillery in Westmeath. The tour then heads north with a stop in the Cooley peninsula and finishes in the historic small town of Bushmills, with a visit to the distillery to which the town has given its name. As well as tours of the three distilleries you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the many other attractions of the areas – from the galleries and history of Dublin, to the coastal splendour of Country Antrim including the Giants Causeway.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Feb - Nov. Makes a lovely, cosy winter trip.

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ask us to arrange a driver/guide and leave your car behind?

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Office Hours (UK time) Mon-Fri: 9.00-18.30
Sat: 9.30-16.30

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Day One – Dublin

Your first base is the Georgian capital city of Dublin, a perfect introduction to Ireland.

Your Hotel

Enjoy the best of both worlds in this welcoming guest house, comprising two imposing Georgian townhouses.  It’s situated in a remarkably peaceful leafy avenue to the south of Dublin city centre, yet you’re just a short walk from St Stephen’s Green, a pint or two of Guinness in a local bar, or a delicious meal in one of Dublin’s many fine restaurants.   As exploring the city on public transport and on foot is recommended, it is ideal that there is plenty of free parking here for guests.

Day Two – Teeling Distillery

Dublin was once the centre of the Irish whiskey industry, with 37 distilleries operating in the glory years, until the last closed in 1976. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years, and brings the craft and tradition back to the very heart Ireland’s capital city. Tours of the impressive facility are fully guided by a Teeling Whiskey Ambassador and give visitors the opportunity to experience the fascinating process and unique flavour of Irish Whiskey.

Day Three – Kilbeggan Distillery

From Dublin, head west to the county of Roscommon, with time to explore the Curragh, perhaps follow Queen Elizabeth and take in the National Stud and beautiful Japanese Garden near to Kildare.  Next cross the peat bogs to Kilbeggan; Locke’s Distillery is a wonderful piece of industrial heritage saved from dereliction by the local community. With a working water wheel, it once again operates as a boutique distillery. Your tour will include some tastings of the new and experimental products and a chance to explore the workings for yourself.

You will stay close by in a riverside hotel just north of the town of Athlone. This is a popular destination for special occasions with a superb location right by the famous Shannon.

Day Four – Carlingford

From Athlone a cross country route to the east coast – with options to visit the world heritage site of Newgrange – will bring you to the county of Louth and the hidden gem known as the Cooley peninsula.  Your hotel is in the historic waterside village of Carlingford

Your Hotel

This beautiful Georgian house is set within a walled garden and just a few steps away from the mediaeval heart of Carlingford.  The welcome is very friendly – this is very much a home and not a hotel, furnished with delightful antiques and well-worn rugs.  The views of the garden or lough are great, whether you stay in a bedroom in the original house or the neighbouring modern extension.  Best of all is the food – the restaurant has won many awards and is renowned as a destination throughout Ireland.   The wine list is extensive and compiled with an expert’s touch.  We strongly recommend the oysters – which travel only 500m from the lough to your plate.

Day Five – Bushmills

Today, cross into Northern Ireland, with plenty of time to explore as you tour, including Downpatrick, Strangford Lough and the Georgian village of Hillsborourgh.  Your destination is the picturesque coast of County Antrim and the village of Bushmills.

Your  Hotel

Centuries of history exude from the old timber  beams and  rough plaster walls of this landmark inn.  At its’ heart is the  gas-lit  sixteenth century snug, with soot-stained walls and ceilings  and a  pulley suspended above the fireplace.  You could spend hours here  over a  Guinness or a dram, dreaming up romantic notions of bygone encounters .  The snug is encased by a ‘mere’ two-hundred year old inn, with an  even  more modern, yet sympathetically designed, outer shell. Guest  rooms are  spacious and atmospheric with individual character and  attention to  detail to a design in keeping with the building’s  charm.  This place  is a genuine meeting point for travellers and locals  alike, buzzing with  conviviality and conversation throughout a jigsaw  puzzle of  interconnecting public rooms and cosy corners.  The outdoor  courtyard and  terrace come into their own in the summer months while  open peat fires  provide the perfect ambience in other seasons.  Service  is attentive and  friendly, many staff being young,  local, and very proud  of the area. The  menu offered throughout the restaurant and  conservatory fuses local  produce with a touch of creativity to make  this one of the most renowned  dining destinations in the North of  Ireland.

Day Six – the Bushmills Distillery

This is the only distillery in Ireland to make triple-distilled malt  whiskey and is at the heart of all Bushmills whiskeys, creating a  unique combination of smoothness and richness.  In 2008 the distillery  celebrated the 400th anniversary of the original licence to distil  whiskey granted to the area in 1608.

After the guided tour you  will enjoy a tutored tasting with an expert member of staff, which will  introduce you to the craft of making Irish Whiskey and to unravel some  of their trade secrets – from the special water from St. Columb’s Rill  and the finest malted barley, to the art of triple distillation in copper  stills – and finally to aging  in oak casks.  You’ll then be invited to ‘nose’ and taste three Bushmills Whiskeys and to compare them with an  American Bourbon and a Scotch Whisky.  Complete the visit with a dram of  the exclusive Bushmills Distillery Reserve 12 Year Old Single Malt  Whiskey.

Day Seven

Time to enjoy this famous coastline, with its numerous castles, beaches, historic houses and quaint villages.  Perhaps take a day trip to Rathlin Island, test your nerve on the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, drive the tortuous Torr Head road, wonder at the Giants Causeway, relax on the beach at Cushendun or gaze at the views from the Mussenden Temple.

Day Eight

Return home


Map Irish Whiskey Trail

The holiday starts in Dublin and meanders northwards, finishing at Bushmills, in County Antrim on the North Coast.


£835 per person for February, March & November, £880 per person for April & October, £925 per person for May, June & September, £965 per person for July & August.

Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis, including tours of the Teeling, Kilbeggan and Bushmills distilleries.

Travel to Ireland

We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland for this holiday.

The most convenient ferry routes are those from Holyhead to Dublin & Dun Laoghaire, and from Scotland to Belfast & Larne.

There  are direct flight connections to Dublin & Belfast from many UK airports.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

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We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Check availability for Irish Whiskey Trail

This holiday is available from February to November.

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