a glass of beer illuminated by the fire in the background

Scottish Whisky or Irish Brewery Tour?

Which tour is right for you? Scottish Distillery or Irish Brewery Pin
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As the weather cools, and the fog and rain blanket the world outside, the idea of being snug by the fire with a drink in your hand becomes more and more inviting. If that inspires some travel daydreams as well, why not plan a trip around your favorite drink?

When selecting which cozy pub destination is most appealing, it can be difficult to decide between Scotland and Ireland. The two countries have many similarities and while we strongly advocate going to both, sometimes time or budget require you to choose. Along with stunning countrysides, friendly people, and rich histories, both countries share a long history of creating memorable alcoholic drinks. Assuming you enjoy Scottish whisky and Irish beer in equal measure – how can you decide which is more important to include in your adventure? What does each experience offer? Can choosing between a Scottish distillery or an Irish brewery also help you choose between Scotland and Ireland? Read on to find out! 


What to Expect on your Scottish Whisky or Irish Brewery Tour

a glass of beer illuminated by the fire in the background

Both: Whether you’re visiting a Scottish distillery or an Irish brewery your tour will include these three things:

-The history of the brewery/ distillery and the history of the the area.

– The creation process from grain to drink

– A taste or two! 

[Photo Credit: Dan Barrett via Unspalsh]

Scotland Whisky Tour

Your whisky tour will likely span at least a full day and include one to three distilleries. Often the full-day tours include a lunch and a complimentary whisky glass to take home. You’ll not only learn how the whisky is made, but you’ll learn the best way to drink and enjoy the different notes. Typically, these tours are very customizable. Some, like Glengoyne, offer blending courses where you’ll be able to mix and keep your own unique blend.

Ireland Brewery Tour

Most communities in Ireland are served by a local or regional brewery that will be happy to show you around. This gives you more opportunities to visit a small brewery and have an intimate or private tour. Some of the breweries like the Walled City Brewery in Derry host beer masterclass lessons. While in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin you can learn to pour like a pro. Typically, the brewery tours end with multiple glasses per tasting so you can try all the different types of beer that particular brewery makes.

The Atmosphere

a large stone building shows the front of the Blair Athol Whisky Distillery in Scotland

Scotland Whisky Tour: Scottish distilleries are often tucked away in the hills, close to a source of water, and exude an old-world charm. You’ll enjoy a warming drink in a traditional setting with many of the original buildings on the waterfront. With storied and interesting pasts they infuse history into your experience. 

Ireland Brewery Tour: The breweries of Ireland are more varied. Some boast historic roots and buildings while others have a more modern feel. Many of the breweries are in the historic city centers, offering you a warm and welcoming community vibe. Bigger breweries, like Guinness and Smithwicks, provide a museum-like history with a visitor-friendly design. While the smaller breweries like Wicklow Wolf offer a more informal factory tour and tasting.

[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures Travel – read all about her Scottish Adventure here!]

What will you pair the tour with?

Both: Ireland and Scotland are both known for their wild countryside, dramatic scenery, rich folklore, and history. In both destinations, you can feel like you’re walking into a fairytale. Plus, you’ll find it relatively easy to pair a tour with the major sites of that country.

across a wide loch, greenery with a church spire poking out above the trees and a snowy mountain in the background of this classic Scottish scene

Scotland: Distilleries in Scotland are often tucked away in a secluded glen next to a small town. They can easily be an experience all by themselves since there are over 130 spread throughout the country. With a wide array of styles and flavors (especially in the Highlands), you could spend your entire trip comparing different distilleries.

However, for a more varied adventure, you can pair a distillery tour with castles, a round of golf, a historic walking tour, or an outdoor adventure! Enjoy a trail among the hills or alongside the stunning lochs before heading inside to warm up with a dram or two of whisky.

[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures Travel – read all about her Scottish Adventure here!]

couple at the Guinness Skybar overlooking Dublin

Ireland: There’s now an independently owned brewery in every county in the Emerald Isle. Varying in size, many Irish breweries tend to be near major cities. In Dublin alone, you can find countless breweries including the most famous, Guinness Storehouse. It’s easy to pair a brewery tour with a city escape, exploring Dublin, Cork, Killarney, Galway, or Derry. Pair your tour with top-notch restaurants, museums, and beautiful rolling hills. You can also enjoy some Irish whiskey for the best of both worlds! There are nowhere near the number of distilleries in Ireland as in Scotland, but breweries like the Franciscan Well Brewery will often pair their beer tasting with a Jameson tasting all in one! 

[Photo Credit: Alicia & Jay via Shared Adventures Travel. Read about their Irish Adventure here!]

 

Conclusion:

a dark pint of beer and a dram of Whisky

The biggest difference, aside from the drink itself, between a Scottish whisky adventure and an Irish brewery tour, is time. Irish brewery tours can more easily be paired with cities and other sites that are already on your list. Scottish distillery tours require more dedicated and intentional time and you’ll find yourself further out in the countryside.

No matter which cozy setting you choose, you’ll be sure to feel welcome, warm, and well-informed on the inner workings of your favorite drink!

[Photo Credit: Yesmorecontent via Unsplash]

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You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)