Irish whiskey, culture & walking along the Wild Atlantic Way
This is an example of a self-guided tour. All experiences can be adapted to meet your needs.
Discover the revolution of Irish whiskey and soak up the local culture in the beautiful west and north west of Ireland.
In 2013, there was one large Irish distillery and three smaller distilleries, in 2018 this number is due to grow to over 30 distilleries some of which are already operational. On this tour, you will not only meet the distillers but you will get a behind the scenes personalised tour of the unique offerings of each distillery and learn about their ambitious objectives for the domestic and international markets.
You will also discover the traditions and culture in rural Ireland and the local passion for whiskey, dance and Irish music. A region steeped in heritage, your guide will bring you on a journey to explore the rugged cliff lined coast of the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s meandering valleys and mountains and its scenic beauty.
- Discover behind the scenes of the booming craft Irish Whiskey industry
- Stay in Irish homes, experience local cuisine and the renowned Irish welcome
- Two nights on the beautiful Clare Island
- Spectacular walks and excursions along the Wild Atlantic Way
- Learn to Irish dance, pull a pint of Guinness + discover the craft of smoking salmon
- Full luxury private transport with a flexible and energetic local guide
Day 1: Westport, Clare Island
Meet in Westport town centre at 3pm. Your guide Rachel will collect you and bring you to Roonagh Pier where you will take a short 30 minute ferry to the beautiful Clare Island. Here, we will be greeted at the Bed & Breakfast, overlooking the beach and Croagh Patrick, by Helen with a tea and scones.
It’s a short 3 minute walk up to the local pub where we meet for dinner and . We will discuss the itinerary and prepare for a fun week ahead.
Day 2: Clare Island
Wake up to the birds singing and the noise of the waves gently crashing off the shore. After a lovely Irish breakfast, it’s off to discover ‘Clare Island Whiskey, matured at sea’. This is an innovative project with the collaboration of a local producing distillery and a passionate islander that wants to generate a more tourism for the island as well as testing the limits of what has been done with whiskey in the past, with the ambition of creating a new whiskey brand with a unique and great taste. Karl will walk you through his project and you will get an in-depth insight not only into his innovative project but also into the passion, heritage and culture that brings it alive.
After this, we will go to the hills and spend the day exploring this majestic island, it’s beautiful golden sandy beaches and cliff-lined coastline. You will learn about the stories of pirate Queen Grainne Uaile and the local traditions and way of life.
Dinner will be in the Sailor’s Bar and it will be the perfect opportunity to taste the catch of the day, directly coming in from the pier.
Day 3: Westport, Castlebar, Ballina
After a healthy breakfast, we will take the boat back to the mainland and visit the colourful town of Westport where we will have lunch.
It’s then onto Turlough House museum to learn about the Irish history in the West of Ireland, the traditions, culture and heritage. Following this, out last stop will be at the Foxford Woollen Mills for a tour and a browse around the beautiful shopping area. Finally, we will finish off the day and check into Brigown B&B.
Rachel your guide and host will invite you for a Whiskey Appreciation Session where you will learn about the unique styles of whiskey, discover which whiskey you like and why. Dinner will be in a nearby pub where you can also further explore the whiskey menu at your own leisure.
Day 4: North Mayo
With a 15 choice breakfast menu from Marjorie’s kitchen at Brigown B&B, you can have anything from scrambled egg and local smoked salmon to Marjorie’s famous Irish potato cakes. First stop today will be to the Nephin Whiskey Distillery. This is still in the start-up phase but with very ambitious and innovation plans, their vision is clear and Jude and her team are more than happy to share their passion and knowledge. They have a shop already set up and a cooperage which is running from Killbeggan. Jude will teach you about the art of barrel making and the uniqueness of what will be the Nephin Whiskey. Their passion and drive to succeed and turn this dream into a reality is infectious and when you come back 18 months later you will see the end result in action. We will go for a healthy lunch at Jack Fenns in the beautiful setting of Belleek castle and woods and learn about the castles history and local folklore.
Next stop will be to the Connacht Whiskey Company. This is a fully operational distillery and they currently have their own Gin and Poitin. The Connacht Whiskey is set to be released in 2020 along with several other innovative products created by the American master distiller Rob Cassell. You will be brought on a tour of the distillery to discover their process of distillation and maturation and finish off with a tasting session in Malarkeys bar.
Dinner will be in Rachel’s house where her mother Marjorie, a renowned cook, will prepare a traditional Irish meal. After there is an option to go to the local pub and learn to pull your own pint of Guinness.
Day 5: Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal
After a delicious breakfast, your guide will take you on a coastal drive along Sligo’s Wild Atlantic Way and there will be a stop off at Rosie’s pottery to make your own bowl and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee in the Pudding Row cafe.
It’s then into the rural town of Drumshambo in County Leitrim to visit The Shed distillery. Here you will once again be taken on a ‘behind the scenes’ personalised tour where you will discover the innovations of PJ Rigney. While they are waiting for their whiskey to mature, they have created an internationally award winning gin, Gun Powder along with more delightful surprises.
After it’s a scenic drive to the beautiful town of Donegal where we will spend two nights.
This will be a free night where you guide will give you several restaurants to choose from and you can dine at your own leisure.
Day 6: Donegal
After breakfast and a stroll around Donegal town, we will drive west to Sliabh League distillery. This is not yet in full operation but it will be in the coming weeks. Here along Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way, you will discover a family run distillery that has a project to rejuvenate what is Irish whiskey. It is said that Donegal people and sheep are the friendliest in the world, you will experience both.
After lunch, we will take a walk to explore the spectacular cliffs of Slieve League, one of the Wild Atlantic Way discovery points. Before going back to Donegal town, we will visit the Glencolmcille Folk Village and you can see the thatched-roof replica of a rural Ireland village and learn about the traditions in music, dance and crafts despite the material hardships of daily life.
On this last night, we will all eat together in a traditional Irish pub and enjoy some local Irish music a few whiskeys.
Day 7: Departure
After breakfast, Rachel will transport you to the local bus/ train station or can organise airport transfer at an extra cost.
PRICES for 2019
All itineraries can be changed to meet the groups exact needs.
Included in price:
- Seven nights accommodation in specially selected Bed & Breakfasts
- 5 delicious evening meals, tasting local specialities, such as salmon, cheese and a variety of local drinks
- Local guide with an in-depth knowledge of the Irish whiskey industry and local culture
- Personalised tours of the start-up phases of Irish craft distilleries
- An in-dept. education session of the unique variety of barrels used in maturing whiskey
- Exploring the different methods of distillation used in the Irish spirits industry
- 5 unique Whiskey and Irish spirits experiences
- Rachel’s Whiskey Appreciation Session
- Off the beaten track cultural and walking excursions organised throughout your stay
- The Clare Island experience, discover a unique whiskey maturing project
- Return ferry to Clare Island
- Complimentary transport throughout your stay
- Dinner on two nights
- Additional drinks outside distillery visits or extra activities not in the itinerary
- Airport transfer (can be organised at extra cost)