The Dylan Whisky Bar – Kilkenny City
At the end of the 19th century, D.W.D was synonymous in Ireland with good whiskey. The DWD brand is long gone, but if you’re looking for some excellent whiskey, and some of that 19th century old world atmosphere, you couldn’t do much better than stepping into The D.W.B, otherwise known as The Dylan Whisky Bar.
The Dylan Whisky Bar is located right in the heart of the medieval city of Kilkenny and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s always been there. It was actually opened in 2009 on the site of a former undertakers and coffin-makers back in the 1970's (needless to say some people dont think whiskey is the only spirit hanging around in The Dylan). The bar was the amalgamation of two ideas: the owner of The D.W.B, Michael Watchorn, was inspired to call the bar after Bob Dylan, as a tribute to one of the most profound lyricists and musicians of all time. At the same time, The Dylan's distinctive bar manager, Jim Rafferty, wished to combine this concept with his own, by specialising in the Spirit of Ireland, to form a truly unique combination. And so The Dylan Whisky Bar was born.
The bar is in a very old part of Kilkenny and Michael and his son, Sean, were determined to reflect the building and the area’s heritage, by recreating that Victorian bar look and feel, with curved, polished mahogany counters, ornate back bars, counter to floor decorative partitions dividing the floor space, dark wood panelled walls, snugs and large whisky display cabinets. Their slogan is “Taste, Feel and Experience the Spirit of The Dylan” and whether you pop in during the afternoon for a quiet drink, or of an evening when the pub is lively, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed. Our recommendation is to settle yourself down in the front Dylan Whisky Snug – winner of Ireland's Best Snug 2011 – where you can watch the world outside go by and chose from one of the Dylan’s 100+ selection of the world's finest whiskies. This proud snug with its combination of half doors, candle-lit lanterns, nosey street lookouts, drink hatches & hinged privacy screens is as quirky as it is small. It is also unique in that the snug can quickly transform from one snug that seats 8-10 people into two secretive cosy snugs when the occasion calls. Failing that, you could always sit by their open turf fire, in their lovely whiskey library at the back bar, or at the bar itself and chat to one of their friendly barmen, Chris, Rob, Darren or of course Jim.
The bar is adjacent to John’s Bridge and the River Nore and a stone’s throw from Kilkenny Castle, which is on every tourist map. The last whiskey distillery in Kilkenny dates back to the early 19th century and all traces are unfortunately now long gone. However if you climb Saint Canices Round Tower, you will see not only all of Kilkenny City, but also the expanse of the medieval St. Francis Abbey Brewery, Ireland’s oldest operating brewery, better known as Smithwicks (which you should definitely tour).
So whether it’s a Powers or a Smithwicks you sample in Dylan’s, do enjoy the moment. The bar opens at 6pm Mon-Thurs and from 12 Friday-Sunday and there’s live music every Friday from 9pm. There’s also of course plenty of Bob Dylan memorabilia around and if you stay long enough, it’s quite likely you’ll hear a tune or two by St. Dylan himself. There's actually a vintage wireless radio in the bar dedicated solely to Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" that customers can turn on and off as they please. This particular radio plays this and nothing else as a tribute to Dylans OWN Taste in music (Theme Time Radio Hour (TTRH) was a weekly, one-hour satellite radio show hosted by Bob Dylan from 2006 to 2009. Each episode was an eclectic, freeform mix of blues, folk, rockabilly, R&B, soul, bebop, rock-and-roll, country and pop music).
As for accommodation, if you want to make your trip unforgettable and experience the very best of Irish hospitality in a truly unique setting, stay in our favourite haunt, Lawcus Farm Guesthouse, just outside Kilkenny.
The Dylan Whisky Bar, 5 John Street, Kilkenny
Tel. (056) 772 2689