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Tasting the Medieval City & County

Synonymous with Kilkenny is brewing and distilling, after all the first written account of distilling in Ireland comes from Kilkenny in the 14th century with the Red Book of Ossory! A first-class whiskey experience, a tour of Ballykeefe Distillery or Highbank Orchard and a discerning palate are the perfect ingredients for a memorable trip exploring the origins of Kilkenny favourite tinctures. Spend some time exploring the stories behind the products. Call it research! It’s no wonder Kilkenny makes the perfect destination .

The Kilkenny Whiskey Guild

The Kilkenny Whiskey Guild is a collective of 10 establishments throughout Ireland’s Medieval capital. Each premises stocks a minimum of 60 Irish Whiskeys and will assist in the customers experience through knowledgeable staff, tasting flights, food pairings and mixology. Regular whiskey events are held in each of the Guild Houses designed to heighten the public’s knowledge of Irish Whiskey history production and various styles.

The stylish and lively atmosphere of the award-winning Harpers Bar at Kilkenny’s Hibernian Hotel makes an ideal spot to settle down for a quality drink with over 60 whiskeys behind the bar, the Irish Whiskey tasting experience is a must! Choose from a variety of packages, according to your budget and palette, and enjoy three pours of distinguished whiskey with their Whiskey Tasting Flight, for a refreshing way to start the night.

The Dylan Whisky Bar is an old victorian style bar that specialises in fine whiskeys. Their Whiskey Library contains nearly 200 of the worlds finest whiskies, 40 premium gins and best of all, it is continually growing. With comfortable leather seating, private snugs, an open turf fire & walls adorned with whiskey mirrors, old advertising and Bob Dylan memorabilia; this bar provides a warm cosy atmosphere in which to chat with friends while enjoying your dram. If whiskey’s not your thing, choose from a great selection of beers, wines cocktails and other choice spirits.

Other members participating on the trail include Billy Byrnes, Paris Texas, Langtons, The Wine Centre, Matt the Millers, Brewery Corner, Lanigans and The Left Bank.

Ballykeefe Distillery

Ballykeefe Distillery produces a super-premium whiskey, exceptional gin and a special vodka at their eco-friendly on farm distillery in the picturesque Kilkenny countryside using the traditional Irish method of triple distillation. The straw that comes from the harvest , is used as bedding for the cattle during the winter months, and the ale that’s made in the brew house here in the distillery, is extremely high in protein and we feed that back to our cattle here on the farm.

Ballykeefe is 100% sustainable as Morgan & Anne Ging wanted to revive a lost tradition of family farm distilling and in so doing hand on to their children a more diverse, ecological and sustainable family operation. Ballykeefe  Distillery received a bronze in Ireland’s inaugural Food & Drinks Business Awards earlier this year for “Sustainable Factory” in recognition of their innovation through excellence with a focus on smart factories, new technologies, quality, safety and security of produce. The tour will educate and entertain and of course tasting is a prerequisite for imbibers.

Highbank Orchard & Distillery

Rod & Julie Calder Potts are organic royalty at home and abroad, producing a multi award winning range of apple based products on the family farm Highbank which dates back to the 17th century. Once the home of Ireland’s hop growing industry, the first apples were planted six years later and have gradually taken over from the hops. Rod and Julie grow a number of varieties to make traditional farm pressed apple juices, luxurious Highbank Organic Orchard Syrup – Ireland’s answer to maple syrup – and a clutch of farm brewed natural organic ciders. Investment in a 253ltr high tech pot still means they also produce 80%proof pure spirit from their own freshly squeezed apples, which is completely unique in Ireland.

The fertile Kilkenny limestone soils are uniquely suited to producing Proper and Medieval Ciders, vinegars and a range of delicious syrups and juices. All production is to the strictest of organic standard including Medieval herbicides are used. Estate Spirits include  Kilkenny Crystal Gin, liqueur and apple vodka.

‘Pip to Sip’ – no apple leaves the farm until it is in a bottle. Open for Taste & Tour, experience Irish hospitality at its finest.

Walshs Distillery

The Walsh Whiskey Distillery at Royal Oak  is dedicated to the production of premium handcrafted Irish whiskeys. Located in Ireland’s Ancient East region, it is one of the largest independent whiskey distilleries in the country and is the key element in a €25 million investment which positions Walsh Whiskey Distillery as one of the leading craft Irish whiskey producers in this, Irish whiskey’s second golden age.

The company produces Walsh Whiskey’s critically acclaimed, award winning, super-premium Irish whiskey brands – The Irishman and Writers Tears.  The distillery is very rare in producing all three styles of Irish whiskey in one still house, namely – pot still, malt and grain.

The giant pot stills weigh between four and five tonnes each and scale up to 6.5 metres in height. The largest of the pot stills has a capacity of 15,000 litres. In all there is almost 30 tonnes of copper and steel whiskey distilling equipment installed at Royal Oak.

Both of whiskey’s main ingredients, water and barley, are in plentiful local supply from the surrounding barley-growing farms and the Barrow Valley Aquifer, a massive natural underground reservoir containing 200 million cubic metres of water located 70 metres directly below the distillery at Royal Oak.

Visitors to Royal Oak relax in a sylvan setting while learning about Irish whiskey distilling by interacting directly with our team of twelve local distillers. These craftsmen expertly distil each batch of new make spirit that will ultimately become one of our premium whiskeys – The Irishman or Writers Tears – for enjoyment in over 40 countries worldwide. Smelling and tasting whiskey at various stages of its development is part of what is an immersive experience that extends to the grounds of the Royal Oak estate