‘Whiskey me away’ – From Jameson to Jay-Z on a spirited East Cork break

Castlemartyr Resort in Co Cork
Castlemartyr aerial photo
Castlemartyr Bell Tower restaurant
Castlemartyr Castle
Knights Bar in Castlemartyr
Castlemartyr manor suite
Castlemartyr treatment room
The Jameson Experience, Cork
Claire Murphy
  • 'Whiskey me away' – From Jameson to Jay-Z on a spirited East Cork break


    At €875 a shot, the 1984 Midleton rare whiskey on the top shelf at the Castlemartyr Resort has had six takers.



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At €875 a shot, the 1984 Midleton rare whiskey on the top shelf at the Castlemartyr Resort has had six takers.

Four were the owner – the other two were Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Clearly, this Cork five-star doesnt do things by halves.

This five-star golf and spa haven is, after all, where Bill Clinton crashed a wedding, where Kanye and Kim Kardashian stopped by on their honeymoon, and where Bruce Springsteen reportedly took over the hotel bar for a session after his first Cork gig.

Now it has launched a Whiskey Me Away Jameson Experience, including an overnight stay, two-course dinner in the Bell Tower Restaurant and entry into the Jameson Experience Tour in Midleton. I was happy to put it to the test.

This place is gigantic. Its a good walk from the reception, past the swimming pool, spa, the Italian restaurant, the childrens playroom, a private dining room, to our rooms.

Castlemartyr manor suite
Castlemartyr manor suite

It is so large that despite a 220-strong wedding taking place while we stay, we barely notice.

We arrive on Friday evening and take advantage of the lengthening hours with a stroll around the lake and grounds of the 800-year-old castle, first constructed by the Knights Templar.

A giant cherry blossom tree is in full bloom. There are about a dozen horses grazing and as we pass, two white mares take off at a canter, revelling in the final drops of sunlight.

We feel the city melting away.

Its a short stroll into Castlemartyr village, where the Hunted Hog pub is inviting for a swift pre-dinner drink. Then its back to the resort and the golf clubhouse obliges with some hearty pub grub and a buzzy atmosphere.

Back at the Knights Bar, the Castlemartyrs band tune up with some gentle traditional music and with the open fire and a nightcap we are sated and soothed before retiring to bed.

The Jameson Experience, Cork
The Jameson Experience, Cork

In search of adventure, the next afternoon we take the 20-minute trip to the Jameson Distillery at Midleton (jamesonwhiskey.com).

The distillery dates back to 1825 and many of the original buildings have been beautifully preserved, with old kilns, mills and a water wheel.

Our guide Seán charms us with tales of the workers who crafted their trade in these stone buildings until they closed in 1975.

Irish Distillers – the producers of Midleton and Jameson Whiskey – operate from the gleaming industrial distillery which is now producing 1.5 million barrels of whiskey a day and they are at 99pc capacity.

“We are planning for the future, hoping that the appetite for Jameson whiskey will continue,” says Seán.

Although the technology has moved on significantly, the technique and quality remains the same. And some traditions remain.

“We still have distillery cats here to keep the pests away because the mice love grain – anything they can get their grubby paws on,” says Seán.

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