I came across a rather wonderful little book the other day called Ireland's Whiskey Guide, pictured below, by the pseudonymous Kate Amber. It's the sort of book that should be tucked into the car glove compartment and consulted when you find yourself in a corner of the country you don't know well and feel like visiting an unusual pub or small distillery.
The book details every Irish distillery county by county, and also highlights the main tourist attractions in the area, along with the odd pub or restaurant. It sounds random, and it is, but it is also authentic and charming. I could easily imagine putting this book into the hands of friends who were visiting the country if they had more than a passing interest in such matters.
Intrigued by the book, I met up with Kate Amber, who is a well-travelled German woman with an interest in sailing, writing and Ireland.
Having researched every distillery north and south of the Border, her favourite in the Republic is the Royal Oak Distillery in the Carlow town of Bagenalstown. That distillery makes two fine whiskies, Writers' Tears and The Irishman, but it is the distillery itself which has charmed Kate. I haven't been there myself, but will definitely go after her strong recommendation.
North of the Border, Kate recommends the Echlinville Distillery, which is located in a 1730s building on the Ards Peninsula and makes Dunville Whiskey. She recommends this six-year-old distillery in Newtownards because of the charm of owner Shane Braniff, and perhaps because it also has a transport museum. Just the sort of place she likes!
Ireland's Whiskey Guide can be bought in the Irish Whiskey Museum in Grafton Street in Dublin and various off-licences nationally for €15. Highly recommended.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine