Cork Whiskey Fest 2023 – Expect Three Days of Craic and Fantastic Experiences

Whiskey glasses in the bar at the Cork Whiskey Fest

For whiskey aficionados, here is a bit of news that you could use. The Cork Whiskey Fest 2023 will take place from 24th – 26th March across Cork City’s historic Victorian Quarter. Centred on MacCurtain St, CWF 2023 will concentrate whiskey fans across Mac Curtain St., Collins’ Barracks and St. Luke’s in Cork City for three days. Needless to say, plenty of craic and fantastic experiences are guaranteed!

You will be hosted by many of the festival friends, in the many bars and rooms of the Victorian Quarter, that will make Cork the epicentre of Irish Whiskey for one weekend.

The Shelbourne Bar will be the official social hub and information point for the Cork Whiskey Fest. In total, there are 34 events and therefore, you won’t have a single minute to feel bored!

What’s on offer

Festival Organisers (left to right) Laurie O’Dwyer & Sonya O’Dwyer

The festival will offer attendees exclusive insights into unique whiskeys, some not even available to purchase in-stores. Various specialists will host each event, such as Ger Garland of Irish Distillers, who guided the tasting at The Shelbourne Bar on Mac Curtain Street for the official festival launch night on the 23rd of February. Ger gave guests and media the opportunity to get a glimpse into what we can expect from the weekend.

“As a local distillery we are delighted to support Cork Whiskey Fest.” Ger explained on the night of the launch. “Over the weekend we will have a number of exciting tastings featuring the most loved Irish Whiskeys, hosted by the people that make them.”

How it all started

Laurie O’Dwyer – festival organiser, podcast host of ‘Whiskey Chats’ and member of the defence forces for over 20 years – developed the idea of Cork Whiskey Fest alongside his wife, Sonya O’Dwyer. Laurie’s passion for whiskey began when he was offered a more settled position within the Officers Mess in Collins’ Barracks after five tours overseas. Following this, he became a member of Cork Whiskey Society in order to expand his knowledge, and to acquire higher quality stock for the mess. From this, Laurie spent his annual leave attending whiskey society meetings and festivals across the country and beyond. He took his WSET2 in spirits, got his general certificate in brewing and distilling, and eventually launched his own podcast Whiskey Chats. Whiskey had officially become his all consuming passion, but he wasn’t finished there.

On a trip home from a whiskey event up North last summer, both Sonya and Laurie couldn’t stop thinking about how fantastic it would be if there was something as great as that festival, just closer to home. By the time the two arrived home from the north, the plans were already beginning to build for Cork Whiskey Fest.

With experience from multiple different festivals, Laurie and Sonya knew they wanted to take the best parts from each festival they’d attended to create Cork Whiskey Fest. Firstly, the festival weekend will be all held in and around The VQ (Mac Curtain St., Collins’ Barracks and St. Lukes area) so you’ll never have to travel too far to reach your next event. Well-known and historic locations such as The Shelbourne Bar, The Metropole Hotel, Gallaghers, Cask and Gabriel House will play host to various event, among many more. Secondly, Laurie and Sonya wanted to ensure that these events would be open to everyone. With the help of well-trained, brand professionals from each distillery, attendees will be taken through in detail, what every whiskey expert fans over. Small, intimate settings will ensure each attendees gets their money worth from these events.

“What makes Cork Whiskey Fest different from others of its kind, it that we want it to be open and accessible to everyone – not just whiskey experts.” Laurie explained at the festival’s official launch night. “We’ll have the experts there from the various whiskey brands hosting events, who will guide attendees through the experience, whether you’re a whiskey aficionado, or just enjoy the occasional drop. It’s sure to be a fantastic weekend in Cork.”

Meet and greet – from well-known distilleries to boutique ones

From left to right – Laurie O’Dwyer (Cork Whiskey Fest, Festival Organiser) Ger Garland (Irish Distillers, Festival Sponsor) Mark Lonergan & Philip Gillivan (The Shelbourne Bar, Festival Sponsors) and Sonya O’Dwyer (Cork Whiskey Fest, Festival Organiser)

A number of events have already sold out, including the opening event of the festival – The Brand Expo and Social, being held in the Metropole Hotel on Mac Curtain St. Attendees will meet and greet with over 20 whiskey brands including, The Liberator, Lough Ree Distillery, Irish Distillers, Jameson Portfolio, Killowen Distillery, Kinsale Mead Co., Pearse Lyons Distillery, Dingle Distillery, Dunville’s, Rebel City Distillery, Thomond Gate, W.D. O’Connell Whiskey Merchants, Baoilleach Distillery, Boann Distillery.

From this line up, attendees can expect to learn from the experts in well-known, global whiskey brands, as well as from those who run smaller, boutique distilleries with unique flavourings. There’s a variety of different events to choose from through the festival weekend, whether you prefer a guided tasting or masterclass, a hands on cask making demonstration, or a whiskey walking tour with the professionals, Cork Whiskey Fest has got something for everyone to enjoy.

For those who have missed out on tickets for their preferred event already, you can browse remaining tickets through

P.S. Have you read our story on the different kinds of attractions in Cork? It would come in quite handy if you were visiting the city!


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