I visited seven distilleries in the Republic of Ireland in 2019, experiencing eight tours with two of them scoring a perfect 10.
The first of them was Powerscourt Distillery in Co. Wicklow which opened for tours during late spring; I visited within the first couple of weeks of their opening and was very impressed with the standard of the tour. Being located on the Powerscourt Estate they expected to be quite busy with visitors so if you’re going for a tour, I’d recommend booking.
The second distillery was one of the last I visited in 2019 is located in Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland. I arrived at it from the south west along very narrow country roads. Lough Mask struck me then as the most remote distillery I’d visited and that is perhaps true, but when I left and drove north east I reached main roads quite quickly. I’d recommend making sure you have SatNav maps downloaded as their is little signal at the distillery if you are using Google Maps and it wants to download some maps.
While Powerscourt and Lough Mask distilleries are both new they are both also very different. Powerscourt is a small distillery, whereas Lough Mask is a craft distillery. This is a distinction first made to me by New Riff in Kentucky who are on the Craft Bourbon Trail, but call themselves a small distillery and not a craft one.
A small distillery usually has a large financial backing and is built in a shiny new building with shiny new equipment looking like a finished factory, whereas a craft distillery tends not to have that same level of financial backing so look a little more rough and ready. A craft distillery is usually smaller and you’re more likely to meet one of the founders, which happened at Lough mask where Eoin arrived part way through the tour and I had the opportunity to talk to him.
I’m not knocking either of these types of distillery as both are capable of producing great spirit and delivery a great tour, as both of these distilleries do. If you want to experience two great tours and see the beautiful scenery of Ireland, then you couldn’t do better than visiting Powerscourt in Co. Wicklow and Lough Mask in Co. Mayo.