Take a trip to Kilbeggan Distillery, beautifully located right on the River Brosna. While it has changed names throughout the years, the location's distilling license dates back to 1757. For a true Irish experience, enjoy a whiskey tasting through the Kilbeggan Distillery Experience at this restored distillery operating as a whiskey museum.
The distillery was originally powered by a waterwheel, which is still kept in working condition today and displayed for visitors. A steam engine was also installed to be used as a backup when the water levels were too low or the waterwheel needed repairs.
Kilbeggan Distillery was successful at first, but struggled to make ends meet starting in the early 20th century. This was due to several factors such as the Irish civil war and American prohibition. The distillery was owned by the Locke family at the time, and they managed to keep it open until 1954; it was one of the last Irish distilleries to close.
Locals stepped in during the ‘70s to maintain the distilling license and the old equipment. Then, in 1988, Cooley Distillery acquired Kilbeggan Distillery. Now, the distillery works with the organization Ireland's Ancient East to help spread knowledge of Ireland's past and Irish whiskey traditions.
There are several tours to choose from which provide varying levels of information about the history of the distillery and whiskey making. You'll learn about Kilbeggan Distillery's past and details about when ownership changed hands. The old machinery is on display, including the waterwheel that used to power the entire place. By visiting original equipment like the old fermenters, you will get a better idea of the way Irish whiskey was produced in the past.
Tours will also show you the current process for making Irish whiskey, which involves maintaining many of the important traditions passed through generations. At the end of the tours you get to taste some whiskey, and designated drivers are offered non-alcoholic alternatives.
Even if you skip the tours, you can still sample Irish whiskey at the Whiskey Bar, which has a variety of whiskey available for purchase. There is also a gift shop to peruse, where you can find branded drinking glasses, t-shirts, and more.
Getting to the distillery
The town of Kilbeggan is located between Galway and Dublin. You can take the M6 and follow signs to Kilbeggan. The distillery is located off of R446 next to the River Brosna. Parking is available behind the building.