Booze | January 29, 2023 3:43 pm

Irish Whiskey Tourism Is Making a Comeback

It's not yet back to its pre-pandemic levels, however

Teeling Distillery
General view inside of the Teeling Irish whiskey distillery on August 17, 2022 in Dublin, Ireland.
Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

There are plenty of innovative things happening in Irish whiskey these days, and that appears to be reflected in sales figures surrounding a certain export from the island nation. That’s only part of the picture, however; interest in Irish whiskey is also leading more and more people to visit distilleries while they’re on trips to Ireland.

While the levels of whiskey-related tourism doesn’t quite seem to have reached its pre-pandemic levels, which reached 1.02 million in 2019, trends in the numbers suggest that’s on the horizon. A recent article in The Spirits Business cited data from the Irish Whiskey Association showing a 425% increase in visits to distilleries from 2021 to 2022. Of those visitors, 35% hailed from North America, while another 15% came from Irish residents on “staycations.”

“While 2021 saw encouraging support from domestic visitors and staycationers, 2022 saw a strong rebound in the number of visitors from international markets, particularly North America, Germany and Great Britain,” said James Doherty, chairperson of the Irish Whiskey Association.

As VinePair’s analysis noted, a growing number of distilleries are expanding their visitor experiences to take advantage of the boom. (Having recently stopped by Teeling Distillery in Dublin, I can personally vouch for their tour-and-tasting combo.) It’s a fairly understandable combination: turns out people want to see where good whiskey is made, and try some of it for themselves.