Tasting Whiskey and Clearing Customs at the Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport
Tasting whiskey and clearing customs:  two things that don’t have much in common.  Both, however, occur at the Dublin Airport, so off we go!

Tasting Whiskey at the Airport

We were told that the best place to do a whiskey tasting is at the airport.  We allowed ourselves extra time to grab a bite and look around.

After security, there was a huge whiskey shop with three whiskeys available to taste.  Mr. P tried some stuff he’d never heard of and made a purchase.  After the Customs Preclearance, there was a tasting of some smaller Jameson labels.  Bottles of all sizes are available, including small variety packs that are great as gifts.

There was a huge variety, including stuff not sold outside of Ireland.  Jameson even had a label that is only sold at the airport!

Whiskey Tasting

US Customs Preclearance in Dublin

The Dublin Airport has a US Customs Preclearance Facility.  Translation: you clear customs before boarding your flight.  When you land in the US, you collect your bags and exit like it was a domestic flight.

A few thoughts about the Dublin Preclearance

The order of operations is this: check-in, security, food + duty free, preclearance (including another bag x-ray), tiny duty free, gate.  There was no passport checkpoint to leave Ireland as there sometimes is in other countries.  If you’d like to eat something or shop, do it before going to preclearance.  Check out the departure board — it will say when to head over.

There is Global Entry at the Preclearance Facility.  Don’t bother taking a customs declaration form if you have Global Entry.  But, you may have to remind people you have Global Entry as you move through the lines.  Our Preclearance experience with Global Entry took about 10 minutes total including the security check.

Allow time for preclearance, especially if you don’t have Global Entry.  What irks me about the preclearance thing is that it’s not well advertised.  Things in Dublin ran pretty smoothly, but I’ve heard horror stories from other countries where flights were delayed by hours because of passengers stuck in preclearance.

Bottom Line

It was a pretty interesting and entertaining airport experience in Dublin!  We loved spending our weekend in Dublin and think you should too!

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on Ireland

Mr. P and I traveled to Dublin for a long weekend in March.  Learn how to plan a trip to Europe for the weekend (even coming all the way from California) here

Photos by Stefan Krasowski and Nico Kaiser via Creative Commons license.


Dublin: Visiting Guinness & Jameson

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

The Old Jameson Distillery and The Guinness Storehouse are two of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions.  When I asked Mr. P what he wanted to do in Dublin, he said “Guinness and Jameson.”  Noted.

Here’s everything you need to know before you go, including some things I wish we’d known!

Important: you will not actually see alcoholic beverages being made at either of these places.  More details below, but I’m mentioning it here in case it’s a deal breaker.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Both places are very centrally located in Dublin.  We did both in one day but I would not recommend that (read on for why).  We did the basic ticket for each — both offer an enhanced tasting experience for an extra fee.

The Old Jameson Distillery

I think it’s called the “old” distillery because Jameson is no longer made on site.  It’s manufactured in a larger facility in County Cork.

Guided Tour: a ticket to the Distillery gets you a guided tour by an actual human.  The guide shows you equipment that used to be used at the facility, explains how Jameson is made, and answers questions.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Tickets: tickets are €15.00 for adults at the door or €13.50 purchased online in advance.  Tickets sell out, so I recommend booking in advance.

Whiskey Tasting: the tour includes a quick whiskey tasting to compare an American whiskey, Jameson, and a scotch.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Free Drink & Certificate: After the tour, you get a free Jameson neat or a Jameson with ginger ale and lime.  You have the option to print a whiskey taster certificate.

The Shop, Restaurant, and Bar: These are all accessible without a ticket.  There’s a neat bar in the lobby of the distillery, which has glass floors to show the old foundation.

Jameson Thoughts

We preferred Jameson to Guinness.  I’ll explain more below but I liked the personalization of the guided tour.  Our guide knew the word for barley in an obscene number of languages.  I will say that if our guide hadn’t been great, the tour might not have been worth it.

Tour was a bit fast.  The website says that the tour lasts just under an hour but it felt a lot faster.  Our guide was awesome but it did feel like we were being moved along quickly.  The tasting was lightening fast.  I can understand that they need to set up the tasting for the next group, but it’s worth noting.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Glad we bought our tickets early.  Really glad.  When we got there, the tours for the entire morning were sold out already.

Get there about 10 minutes early.  If you buy your tickets online, you still need to check in so they can print them for you.

If you’re not really into Jameson, maybe skip the tour.  Here’s the thing — we know how whiskey is made.  But Mr. P was really into seeing the whole thing and the tour was fun, if a little light.  But, if you just want to see the building and say you’ve been there, you can just as easily visit and get a drink at the bar, which looked cool.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

The Guinness Storehouse

Guinness is actually made on site in Dublin, but you will not get to see that during your visit.

Tickets: €16.20 online for adults, €18.00 at the door.  There is no set date or time for the tickets, so you can visit whenever you want.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Not a tour, an “experience.”  The whole shebang is seven massive floors each with a different thing, such as how Guinness is made, advertising, the barrels, and more.  You kind of file along at your own pace.  There are things to read and TV monitors that explain things.

Free Drink: Your ticket gets you a free drink either at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse or you can use it to practice pouring yourself a pint.  You can’t do both.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

The Shop, Restaurants, and Bar:  You must have a ticket to access these.  You can’t simply go for a drink or dinner without a ticket.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

Guinness Thoughts

How do I put this . . . overkill?  Artificial?  The place is a huge temple to Guinness, but it was almost like it lacked substance.  Different than Jameson, it’s all new and modern on the inside.  Maybe it just wasn’t our thing, but I don’t find it really interesting to watch a monitor explain things to me or just read a bunch of placards.

Go for the Gravity Bar.  The Gravity Bar at the top makes the ticket worth it.  If it were me, I’d head straight there to get a good seat and my free Guinness, then head downstairs to look at the other stuff.  The bar has the best views of the city.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

It can get crowded.  This is where we should have done things differently.  I recommend getting there early.  It was crowded working through the “experience” and it was shoulder to shoulder in the Gravity Bar.  There were long lines for all of the hands-on stuff.  If we did it over again, we’d do Jameson and Guinness on two separate days, each in the morning.

Guinness and Jameson Visit by Natalie Parker

I’m not saying I don’t recommend it.  It would be hard to be in Dublin and not go.  But, know what you’re getting yourself into and enjoy it for what it is.

I hope this helps you plan your trip!  Have you been before?  I’m interested to hear if anyone else had a different experience.

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on Ireland

Mr. P and I traveled to Dublin for a long weekend in March.  Learn how to plan a trip to Europe for the weekend (even coming all the way from California) here

Weekend in Dublin: A Summary and Some Thoughts

Weekend in Dublin by Natalie Parker

I can’t wait to tell you about our long weekend in Dublin.  We had the best time!  We’d never been to Dublin nor Ireland before, so we tried to strike the right balance of exploring but not overdoing it.

We let ourselves do what we wanted to when we wanted to — we didn’t worry about what we should be doing.  If you’re familiar with Dublin, you’ll see quite a few sights missing from the list below.  We split our time between tourist attractions and just getting a feel of the city.  We chose sleeping in over trying to cram our days.

We were very lucky with the weather, but it was cloudy the day we were supposed to see the solar eclipse.  Can’t win ’em all!

Note: Keep an eye on this post, I’ll add links as I post more details for each thing.

Travel, Transit, & Lodging

Aer Lingus Economy Class direct to/from SFO to DUB.  We only do weekend trips where we can fly direct and Dublin was the cheapest of all European locations on the weekend we wanted to go.  We learned that the lower prices came with fewer amenities than we’re used to in transatlantic economy.  Next time, we’ll consider that when comparing prices.

AirBNB: Benedikt’s 1-bedroom flat.  Really happy with our choice to stay here.  The location was top-notch and we were able to walk to most places.  Despite being close to the action, it was quiet and we slept really well.  We didn’t use the apartment for apartment-type things like eating in, but we couldn’t have gotten a better price on a hotel.  The apartment is more lived-in in person than the pictures, but we were happy overall.  Benedikt also gave us some great food and drink recommendations.

Public Transit & AirLink Bus.  We walked and used public transit exclusively.  The hop-on-hop-off buses were very popular with tourists but we thought public transit was better and more fun.  The AirLink Bus from the airport could not have been simpler and it was really popular!

Weekend in Dublin by Natalie Parker

Eating and Drinking

There was such great food in Dublin.  We had a great time picking out places to eat.  On top of that, we were impressed at how much cheaper it was than London.  Our dollar went a lot further (not just because the euro is in the tank).

The variety of cool watering holes was also awesome.  Guinness is king, of course, but there were plenty of other local brews to try.  We learned that “live music” can mean very different things and finding a bar to watch a sporting event is more difficult than one would assume.

What We Did

Day 1 (arrival):

AirLink Bus to Dublin & check-in
Lunch at the Pie Man in Temple Bar
Dinner at L. Mulligan Grocer
Drinks & Live Irish music at the VAT House Bar

Day 2:

Quick breakfast at Little Brother
Tour & whiskey tasting at the Old Jameson Distillery
Visit Tourist Information Centre in Temple Bar
Explore Trinity College, visit the Long Room and Book of Kells on a whim
Drink at Grogan’s Castle Lounge
Lunch at Fallon & Byrne’s food counter
Visit Guinness Storehouse
Drink at the Porterhouse
Dinner at the Larder
Drink at O’Donoghue’s
Drinks and Irish music and dancing at O’Neill’s
Drink and Irish music at the VAT House Bar

Day 3:

Brunch at Meetinghouse Square Farmer’s Market
Cheese shopping at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers
Shopping in the Creative Quarter
Watch Ireland versus Scotland in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament at Bruxelles (plus lunch)
A bit more shopping
Watch France versus England in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament at the Church Bar
Dinner at The Port House Pintxo
Dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream
Drinks and Irish music and dancing at O’Neill’s

Day 4:

Brunch at Brother Hubbard
Walk to DART and train to Howth
Explore wharf and town
Lunch at the Brass Monkey
Wander around Howth
Train back to Dublin
Pack suitcases
Dinner at Fade Street Social

Day 5 (departure):

AirLink Bus to Dublin Airport
Eat at airport
Duty Free shopping + whiskey tasting
Fly home

Over the coming weeks, I’ll write up a bunch of posts about all of this.  You can refer back here because I’ll add links as posts go live.  I’m excited to share it with you!

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on Ireland

Mr. P and I traveled to Dublin for a long weekend in March.  Learn how to plan a trip to Europe for the weekend (even coming all the way from California) here