"You’ll really appreciate the warming feel of whiskey when we get inside,” said our guide at Cork’s Jameson Experience as gale force winds shunted us around the various outbuildings.
She wasn’t wrong.
The soothing fuzziness of Ireland’s signature spirit went down a treat after the bitterly cold, yet informative tour.
The Jameson shot, mixed up with tangy ginger beer, offered our first taste of Cork’s feel-good, homely spirit.
This charming city is an ideal destination for a long weekend spent eating local foods, supping stout made a few miles away and, surprisingly, shopping for vintage treasures.
Our chic, modern accommodation at The River Lee Hotel was a warm refuge on a squally winter’s night.
Wrapped up in a blanket and relaxed on sofas inside the new Terrace at the hotel’s Weir Rooms, we were holed up in the perfect retreat from the grim weather.
The locally-sourced food on the bar and restaurant menus was superb, with the Kenmar Bay Oak smoked salmon and soda breads both standouts.
Staff picked out for us Cork delicacies such as spiced beef and Gubbeen and Bandon Vale cheeses.
The buffet breakfast was just as impressive but it’s a struggle to wake up for, after a night spent in the spacious, super soft bed.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll also get your fix at The English Market. Around 15 minutes’ walk from the hotel, it’s a haven for those who favour traditional Irish meats, cake and artisan chocolate.
For classic Irish dishes with a modern twist, the Electric Cork restaurant offers bubble and squeak paired with fresh sea bream and huge bowls of local mussels.
To walk off the excess, take a trip through town. Everything is in strolling distance, including St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, St Anne’s Church and the must-visit Mother Jones Flea Market stuffed with quirky jewellery and trinkets.
It’s just fun to get lost amid the cobbled roads and root out the hidden gems.
Like The Corner House Bar, in Coburg Street.
The barman greeted us cheerily as we arrived in our windswept, bedraggled state before serving up pints of Cork-brewed Black Lightning IPA – a stout that beats Guinness, hands down.
- Rooms at the River Lee, Cork, from 108 euros per night.
- CityJet offers up to 18 flights per week from London City Airport to Cork, flights £39 one way flying on an Avro RJ 85 with 95 seats.
Top three places to visit
1. Visit The English Market , Cork Parade
If you’ve got a craving for every version of Irish sourdough under the sun, this is the place to come to get your fix.
I stuffed a gorgeous gluten-free wholemeal loaf from the Alternative Bread Company into my carry-on case for the flight.
The vintage clothes shops are well worth a look for snazzy fur coats and dresses while the cafe upstairs offers a cosy Irish charm.
2. The Jameson Experience , Old Middleton Distillery, Co Cork
Take a train through Cork city’s rural surroundings and you’ll find whiskey awaits in Middleton. This is the Jameson brand’s sister factory to its Dublin base.
Join a expert tour to explore everything from the huge distilling towers, waterwheels and casks in the outbuildings, learn about the malting process and then retreat to the warmth of the bar to get clued up on the difference between single, double and triple-distilled spirits.
Make sure you tag on a Single Pot Tasting experience, too. You’ll be treated to a one-to-one session with eight varieties of the spirit.
A 20 minute stroll through the winding streets of Cork city leads to this ramshackle indoor market and quirky tea room.
It’s like a treasure trove of glittery goodies from yesteryear. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm.