Limerick's burgeoning Irish Whiskey scene is enhanced by a city rich in sports, music, and pub culture. Limerick is the 3rd largest city in Ireland and located along the River Shannon about a half hour from the Shannon Airport. Potentially overlooked from an Irish Whiskey perspective to more well know spots like Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and even Galway, Limerick is well worth a visit.
Limerick is effectively a hub for Irelands bus and rail routes making it an easy place to visit. A few points of interest for those unfamiliar with some of the city's cultural highlights: Limerick has won four consecutive All Ireland Hurling Championships and five of the last six. If you are not familiar with the GAA sport of hurling, there is no better place to learn and catch a match.
Limerick is also the hometown of the famous Irish band The Cranberries. You can see two murals if in Limerick, the first of the full band at the George Hotel, and the second of lead singer Dolores O'Riordan in the Medieval Quarter by King John's Castle. It doesn't get much better than listening to their music while enjoying a pint and whiskey at one of Limerick's pubs.
Limerick has a thriving pub scene which gets my vote for best Guinness in Ireland. I feel I have done extensive research on the matter having traveled everywhere across the island including remote spots nestled near golf links courses far afield. I realize this is a controversial take. While too many to mention, I'll highlight two outstanding pubs laying claim to great Guinness pours and supporting the growing Irish Whiskey industry.
Nancy Blake's is your stop for music 5 nights a week. Multiple rooms and an outdoor seating area are decorated with eclectic pictures, traditional signs, and dozens of historical beer and Irish whiskey bottles. Their beautiful Guinness pour solidified my opinion that the great pints I had experienced elsewhere in Limerick were not a one-off.
If only time for one pub stop in Limerick, however; I recommend Mother Mac's. Highly regarded for its rotating craft beer taps and Limerick Whiskey Experience, it was actually the Guinness pour that won me over. This pub checks all the boxes.
The pub opened in current form in 2015 in the historic landmark building The Round House. It is not overly big inside but packs a punch with a list of local and craft beers to go along with the usual industry big boys. The pub is also the home of the Limerick Whiskey Experience. It still does not have a TV, a dwindling characteristic in Ireland pubs.
Did I mention the Guinness? Best pour I've ever had. Went back again on a different trip and my opinion was affirmed. Brought along a second opinion Guinness fan who agreed after sampling in Dublin, Galway, and Dingle, to name a few. I don't feel alone on an island with this opinion as even local Limerick Leader news readers voted it best Guinness. I knew Guinness "Was Good for You" and "Gave You Strength" but based on the pub sign, it apparently has other unadvertised benefits.
Mother Mac's is helping to revive Limerick's Irish Whiskey scene as well. The Limerick Whiskey Experience offers guided tours around the city and tastings in the pub. The small back room known as "Peggy's Parlour" contains many bottles not for sale along with beautiful murals to provide atmosphere for sampling the Irish Whiskey tasting themes, many of which feature local brands.
Thomond Gate in Limerick was one of the leading Irish Whiskey Distilleries at the beginning of the 20th century. Like so many, the distillery was shuttered due to the wars, Prohibition, and well documented factors that led to the demise of the Irish Whiskey industry. Luckily, the brand was revived as Thomond Gate Whiskey by Nicholas Ryan and subsequently released its first whiskeys in 2020. While they work toward building a new distillery in Limerick, they have released limited edition sourced Irish Whiskeys with special finishes and strengths. The have also been growing their own barley to use in the creation of their bottlings. The brand's latest release, Clash of the Ash, is a single malt to honor Limerick's 4th consecutive All Ireland Hurling Championship.
Two other Limerick Irish Whiskey brands have emerged in the past couple of years. Sailor's Home started at the end of 2020 as an independent bottler of sourced Irish Whiskeys. The brand is named for the Sailor's Home built in Limerick in 1856 to provide shelter for the journeying seafarers and explorers coming through the busy port. The brand's range consists of 5 different sourced Irish whiskeys. The different expressions of single malts, pot stills, and blends have varying age statements and finishes created under the watch of industry veteran Jack O'Se. The brand also has one of the best bottle packaging and logos which pays homage to Limerick's history.
The third Limerick Irish Whiskey brand, Foxes Bow, started in late 2021 as an independent bottler. The brand is named for the little street in Limerick between William and Thomas streets. The street has an unusual distinction of different spellings all within meters of one another (and Google maps): Foxes, Foxe's, Foxs, and Fox's. The brand's initial and only release to date is a 43% abv blend sourced from Great Northern Distillery with no caramel color added. The non-age statement blend is non-chill filtered and aged in bourbon casks before finishing in oloroso sherry and rye casks. Foxes Bow launched in the USA in 2023, starting with Texas.
A discussion of the Irish Whiskey scene in Limerick would not be complete without recognizing the home of the Irish Coffee. This famous drink was created in the Foynes Air terminal in 1943 for travelers delayed by weather on their way to New York. At the time, the airport about 20 miles outside Limerick city was one of the largest in Europe. Today, the history of the drink and contribution to aviation is commemorated at the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum in the small village of Foynes, outside of Limerick.
Sold yet? If you are already a visitor to Limerick then you know and can probably add more places of interest. Too many to mention I'm sure which makes Limerick a worthy destination on your Irish Whiskey Experience Journey.