Everyone should have “take a road trip through Ireland” on their bucket list — this is speaking from experience — and for the whiskey lovers there’s now a definitive guide: From Barley to Blarney, written by the founders of the Dead Rabbit.
Originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry opened the Dead Rabbit in 2012 and have been raking in the awards ever since, including being named World’s Best Bar twice. And while every part of The Dead Rabbit is inspired by Ireland’s pubs — it also boasts the largest collection of whiskey in the city — they wanted to create a guide for everyone to enjoy their favorite spots.
“We are constantly asked for our recommendations of where to go in Ireland, what to see and what to do,” says Muldoon. “This book sums up our collective wisdom and was truly a labor of love.”
To write it, they returned to Ireland twice last year, each time cramming into a VW bus driven by McGarry’s father for a 4,000-mile road trip through 29 counties to visit 111 pubs and every whiskey distillery in the country.
With a little help from Irish whiskey expert Tim Herlihy, they whittled their adventure down to the 50 essential pubs and 22 distilleries to reveal Ireland’s whiskey-making history and legends. Among the notable pubs is one founded in 900 A.D. possibly the oldest bar in the world; a pub inside a hardware store and another that used to be a mortuary, and a pub that claims former President JFK as a fan.
“You see what Ireland is all about in terms of the pub and the hospitality of the people behind the pub,” says McGarry, who also created 12 original Irish whiskey cocktails for the book. “There’s some amazing characters in there, and if you go there I think you’ll understand [The Dead Rabbit] a whole lot better also.”
The number of distilleries has more than quadrupled over five years, growing from seven in 2014 to 23 today, according to Herlihy. “Ireland is experiencing explosive growth in both distilleries and whiskey, and we wanted to capture this unique and historic revival,” Muldoon says.
From Barley to Blarney: A Whiskey’s Lover’s Guide to Ireland is launching April 16, but you’ll be able to get early copies at the Dead Rabbit, which just recently expanded its taproom — including a dedicated space for its signature Irish coffees.