a man pouring whiskey into a glass Northern Ireland Spirits Trail
Echlinville Distillery

Northern Ireland Spirits Trail Unveiled

First Published April 2023 and Updated June 2024–A new Spirits Trail in Northern Ireland is the latest in a variety of attractions on the island of Ireland that shines a light on the making of Irish spirits.

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The new trail gives tourists the opportunity to delve into the stories behind 14 distilleries in Northern Ireland.

Organizers say its an “invitation to meet the characters and see the passion behind each brand…”

a glass of whiskey on a wallet of money Northern Ireland Spirits Trail
Photo: Stock Film Studio.

Visitors can pick up a passport at any one of the distilleries and then get it stamped once they have completed their whiskey/gin trail journey.

Those who collect all 14 stamps will receive a special surprise souvenir.

The passport is also available digitally at Belfast International Airport's duty-free store.

To map out your journey, take a look at the special Ireland on a Budget Storymap (shown below) of this spirits trail.

1. Belfast Artisan Gin School

The trail begins at the Belfast Artisan Gin School where visitors can learn to make, bottle, label, name, and seal their own gin.

people drinking at a bar Northern Ireland Spirits Trail
Participants in a gin-making class at the Belfast Artisan Gin School. Photo courtesy of Belfast Artisan Gin School Facebook.

Visitors who are not seasoned gin drinkers will still enjoy this experience at The Thirsty Goat Bar and Beer Garden in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, where the experience takes place.

It includes the chance to choose from over 80 botanicals that are typically used to create gins at the local Belfast Artisan Distillery.

A mini copper still, a recipe card and help from some friendly guides make this make-your-own-gin experience an enjoyable one.

Book an Experience at the Belfast Artisan Gin School

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2. McConnell's Distillery and Visitor Experience

Remaining in the city of Belfast, this second distillery stop is located in a historic wing of the Crumlin Road Gaol.

whiskey vats northern ireland spirits trail
The interior of McConnell's Distillery. Photo: McConnell's Distillery Facebook.

The distillery takes its name from a long-dormant Irish whiskey brand, which was founded as the J & J McConnell Company in 1776.

In 2020, the Belfast Distillery Company revived the McConnell brand and today, it is located in the historic property/tourist attraction, producing a five-year-old blended whisky and a sherry cask-finished whisky.

Visitors can take guided tours that uncover the unique history behind the iconic Belfast brand and learn about the distilling process, as well as a tasting of McConnell’s award-winning Irish whiskeys.

Book the Signature Tour at McConnell's Distillery

3. Titanic Distillers

The historic Titanic Pump House in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter is now the home of Titanic Distillers, the third stop on the Northern Ireland Spirits Trail.

The distillery, when opened in 2023, was the first to do so in 90 years.

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The copper vats in the Titanic Distillers in Belfast. Photo: Chris Hill Photographic, Tourism Ireland.

The whiskey distillery and visitor center includes four galleries and an illuminated replica model of the Titanic that forms the centerpiece of the experience.

The original Gwynne pumping engines and other historic features of the building have been preserved, making this a truly fascinating distillery to visit.

Four visitor tours are available, including the Dock Tour, the Signature Tour, the Premium Tour, and the Legacy Tour.

Tastings are included in all tours.

Book a Tour at Titanic Distillers

4. The Copeland Distillery

The trail continues into County Down where nine of the 14 destinations on the trail are located.

people standing in a whiskey distillery Northern Ireland spirits trail
Visitors take a tour at the Copeland Distillery in Northern Ireland. Photo: Christopher Heaney, Tourism Northern Ireland.

At the Copeland Distillery, visitors can expect to hear tales of secret smugglers, savage battles, and remarkable voyages, while soaking up a taste of the distillery’s whiskey, gin, and rum.

They will learn about the production/distillation process at the distillery as they walk around its historical building, which once served as a picture house in the early 1900s.

At the end of the 1-hour tour, there. is an opportunity to sample some of Copeland’s spirits.

Book The Copeland Distillery Experience

 5. The Echlinville Distillery

Guides at the field-to-glass Echlinville Distillery reveal how the barley that is grown, harvested and hand-malted on this family-run farm gives its spirits their unique attributes.

people standing outside a building 8 distilleries in Northern Ireland
The exterior of the Echlinville Distillery in Northern Ireland. Photo: Christopher Heaney, Tourism Northern Ireland.

The distillery is based in Northern Ireland’s beautiful Ards Peninsula.

That region’s unique microclimate, rich soil and saline air contributes to the high quality of Echlinville’s whiskey, gin and poitín.

After the Tour & Tipple experience, visitors can sample the distillery’s products.

Book a Tour at The Echlinville Distillery

6. Shortcross Gin Discovery and Tour Experience, The Rademon Estate

Shortcross Gin was the first craft gin to be distilled in Northern Ireland, beginning in 2012.

The Shortcross Gin Discovery and Tasting experience takes place on the grounds of the Rademon Estate Distillery.

Visitors taking the Shortcross Gin tour at the Rademon Estate Distillery. Photo: Rob Durston, Tourism Northern Ireland.

The gin’s signature taste comes from the wild botanicals grown and foraged in the nearby lush green fields, blooming gardens and dense forests. Additional ingredients include wild clover, apple, elderflower and elderberry.

The experience includes a tasting of the brand’s cocktails and a tour of the copper stills where the unique gin and Shortcross whiskey are made.

Owners Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong recount their journey as business owners, explaining the estate’s unique connection to the popular Game of Thrones series and the sustainable practices they use to make their award-winning products.

Book a Shortcross Gin Discovery and Tour Experience

7. The Hinch Distillery

The Hinch Distillery, about a 15-minute drive away, is where triple distillation and traditional Irish mashing processes are key to creating this distillery’s award-winning spirits.

a sign outside a building Northern Ireland spirits trail
The Hinch Distillery in County Down. Photo: Jamie Cotter, Hinch Distillery.

The whiskey at Hinch includes a combination of malted barley and water from the nearby Mourne Mountains.

Visitors can avail of two guided tours, including its Classic Tour and its Premium Tour.

Book a Tour at The Hinch Distillery


8. The Killowen Distillery

Also on the Northern Ireland Spirits Trail is County Down’s Killowen Distillery, which is the smallest in Northern Ireland.

copper stills Northern Ireland spirits trail
The artisan stills at the Killowen Distillery in Co. Down. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

Located in the Mourne Mountains, its range of spirits and its use of age-old distilling has attracted a growing following.

On a guided 1 to 2-hour distillery tour, visitors can learn about the unique process that is used to create Killowen’s gin, poitín, and pot-still Irish whiskey. A tasting of Killowen spirits follows the tour.

Book a Tour at the Killowen Distillery

9. Two Stacks Whiskey Tour

Learn about the history of blending and bonding whiskey in Ireland at Two Stacks Whiskey in Newry.

Photo courtesy of Two Stacks Irish Whiskey Facebook.

Enjoy a Two Stacks welcome cocktail followed by a tasting of Two Stack whiskeys. The distillery also offers a hands-on whiskey blending experience that allows visitors to blend their own Irish whiskey.

Book a Two Stacks Whiskey Tour

10. The Woodlab Distillery

The trail also includes the Woodlab Distillery in County Tyrone, where science and nature combine to create the company’s unique Symphonia gin.

Participants in the distillery tour at the Woodlab Distillery. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

Founded by Ulrich Dyer, an organic chemist, the gin at this new distillery gets it unique flavors from the wild botanicals and herbs that inhabit this rural landscape, which is close to Lough Neagh.

On a tour of the distillery, visitors will get the chance to make their own gin using some of the botanicals that the distillery use in their signature product, including the Armagh Bramley apple, a Protected Geographical Ingredient unique to Northern Ireland.

Book a Symphonia Spirits Tour at the Woodlabs Distillery


11. The Boatyard Distillery

Sitting on the banks of beautiful Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, the Boatyard Distillery uses a sustainable and organic approach to producing its pure spirits.

This family-owned business was the first legal distillery to be opened in the county in over 130 years.

Bottles of gin and vodka distilled at The Boatyard Distillery. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Boatyard’s spirits are very much products of the land.

Common ingredients include the deciduous shrub sweet gale (known to have been drunk by the Vikings before they went into battle!) and frequently used as a botanical in its signature gin.

Organic wheat, grown in Ireland, contributes to its popular vodka brand.

Tours are 90-minutes long and include a behind-the-scenes look at the production process in this farm-to-bottle distillery, from distilling to labeling.

Book a Tour at The Boatyard Distillery


12. The Wild Atlantic Distillery Gin School and Distillery Tour

The Wild Atlantic Distillery takes inspiration from the rugged landscape around it to create its whiskey, gin and vodka.

Visitors enjoy the Wild Atlantic Distillery Gin School Experience. Photo: Donal Maloney, Tourism Northern Ireland.

The gin’s makeup of botanicals such as organic sugar, kelp, and dulse is inspired by the Porcupine Bank, an area of the Irish shelf that is located about 120 miles off the west coast of Ireland.

Take a 90-minute tour of the distillery and craft your own spirit under the guidance of a master distiller.

A light lunch of locally sourced food coupled with a gin and tonic is also included.

Book a Wild Atlantic Distillery Gin School Experience

13. The Walled City Brewery

The Walled City Brewery in Derry is both an award-winning brewhouse and a restaurant housed in a historic military barracks.

Walled City Brewery
Walled City Brewery

Some of the brews made here have been inspired by the popular series, Derry Girls, including Try a Sexy Priest, Wee English Fella and Craic Killer.

While the 45-minute brew tour is definitely worth it, spirits lovers may be more interested in its gin tour, where visitors learn about the distillation process and how botanicals are chosen to achieve a harmonious gin flavor.  

The session also includes naming, labeling and applying a wax seal to the finished product.

Book a Gin Tour at the Walled City Brewery

Take a Derry Girls Original Sites Tour

14. Bushmills Distillery

The Northern Ireland Spirits Trail finishes at Northern Ireland’s world-famous Bushmills Distillery on the spectacular Causeway Coast, where whiskey has been distilled for over 400 years.

Enjoying a tour at the Old Bushmills Distillery, which is on the Northern Ireland Spirits Trail. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

On the distillery’s 40-minute tour, visitors will learn about the ingredients and the triple distillation process that Bushmills uses to create its signature products.

Book a Whiskey Tour at the Bushmills Distillery

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