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Old Bushmills Distillery

A Tour of Northern Ireland’s Traditional Distilleries and Breweries : A Guide (2024)

Northern Ireland, with its rich history, enchanting landscapes, and ancient traditions, has always been a land of allure for travelers. But apart from its legendary Giants Causeway or the timeless beauty of the Mourne Mountains, there lies a hidden treasure, one that beckons those with a penchant for spirits and brews. The traditional distilleries and breweries of Northern Ireland stand as testament to the region’s dedication to craftsmanship, heritage, and flavor.

A Tour of Northern Ireland’s Traditional Distilleries and Breweries: A Guide

Let’s embark on a journey through some of the most notable ones.

1. Bushmills Distillery, County Antrim

Founded in 1608, Bushmills Distillery holds the title of the world’s oldest licensed distillery. Nestled on the North Antrim coast, this iconic establishment has been producing premium whiskey for over 400 years. A tour of the distillery offers a glimpse into the intricate process of whiskey-making, right from mashing to distillation to maturation. And of course, it concludes with a tasting session where visitors can savor the legendary Bushmills Original, Black Bush, and the 10-year-old Single Malt, among others.

2. Echlinville Distillery, County Down

Echlinville has made a name for itself by producing some of the finest Irish whiskeys and gins. A visit to the distillery takes guests through its rich history and the painstaking process of pot distillation. One of its unique features is the terroir-driven approach; Echlinville grows its own barley, ensuring a connection to the land in every sip. Their award-winning Dunville’s whiskey and Echlinville Gin are a testament to their dedication to quality.

3. Hilden Brewery, Lisburn

As Northern Ireland’s oldest independent brewery, Hilden Brewery offers a delightful experience for beer enthusiasts. A journey through Hilden showcases the blending of traditional brewing methods with modern innovations. Their beers, ranging from malty, rich ales to hop-laden delights, capture the essence of Irish brewing. The Tap Room Restaurant on the premises offers a fantastic pairing experience, ensuring visitors get a taste of both the beer and local cuisine.

4. Whitewater Brewery, Castlewellan

Located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, Whitewater brings forth a range of craft beers inspired by the surrounding landscapes. The brewery takes pride in using fresh mountain water in its brews, adding a touch of purity. Their signature beers like the Maggies Leap IPA and the Copperhead Amber Ale have garnered accolades and a dedicated following.

5. Shortcross Gin at Rademon Estate Distillery, County Down

Rademon Estate is home to Northern Ireland’s first award-winning craft gin – Shortcross Gin. Visitors can explore the sprawling estate, learning about the botanicals that infuse distinct flavors into their gin. The distillation process, carried out in copper pot stills, is both an art and a science, resulting in a gin that’s refreshingly complex yet smooth.

6. Lacada Brewery Co-Operative, Portrush

A community-owned brewery, Lacada has its roots deep in the passion of the locals. The brewery produces a diverse range of beers, each with a story inspired by the Antrim Coast’s legends and landmarks. From the Utopian Stout, inspired by the Utopia wreck, to the East the Beast Pale Ale, the flavors are as intriguing as the tales behind them.


Northern Ireland’s brewing and distilling heritage is not just about the spirits and brews; it’s about the stories, the traditions, and the people behind them. Each sip is a testament to years of expertise, dedication, and a profound love for the craft. So, the next time you find yourself in Northern Ireland, raise a toast to the spirits of the north, and let the flavors guide you through its rich history. Sláinte!

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