Behind Ulster Whiskey

Martin McAuley

Biography. Tours below

It is a cliché, but it does hold true, “Have a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and so when in late 2015 a career change was forced upon me I took the message to heart. Deciding what career path to take didn’t really take long, like people, love where I’m from, interested in weird and quirky and never keep my mouth shut. Tour guiding it was to be then.

Now as I set out on my new path it coincided with a renaissance in the Irish Whiskey industry and a eureka moment happened. Whiskey tourism is a growth industry and getting on board seemed like the thing to do and so training was undertaken. Now trying to convince folk that having to sit and drink a Lagavulin 16 or Redbreast 12 was homework and training took some doing but I found that I could convince myself and that was the most important thing. Having always had an appreciation for Whiskey it quickly morphed into a passion and an obsession. Researching the topic, it quickly became apparent that Ulster’s place in the Whiskey story was unique and special.

Meeting the movers and shakers in the Ulster whiskey scene was quite an experience and by and large they were very helpful and engaging. So many little snippets of information and hints. Phone numbers and emails, exchanged assistance offered and support. The thing is I want to guide people in the world of Whiskey, I’m not a 30 years served blender. Not an employee of one of the big distilleries so doing it myself. As career paths go it is a great and exciting one, intimidating in many ways but it is wonderful. There is a school of thought that says that some topics are so large that it can never be covered completely and so it is with Whiskey. The stories are endless, the history so huge and the bottlings innumerable but its what makes guiding in the Whiskey world so much fun and so interesting.


Tours provided by can be bespoke to suit the needs of individuals/groups/hotels/tour companies etc and include, but not limited to:

Boat trips to either Islay, the spiritual homeland of Scotch whisky, or to Campbeltown, once known as Whiskyopolis. These trips depart from beautiful Ballycastle and cross the narrow sea, taking in wonderful views. They can be booked for a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12. Approximately taking an hour and a half to cross and return the trip is done in a single day, leaving around 10:30 am and returning to Ballycastle for 18:00

On site whiskey tastings.  A bespoke trip into the modern face of Irish whiskey. If you have a hotel, a bar, an event coming up then this is an ideal event to hold. From standard tastings of the different Irish whiskey styles to high end exclusive bottles then Ulsterwhiskey can host/ provide an event.

Whisky walk and taste. Discover the history of Belfast and the impact the region has had on the whisky world and vice versa, much more entwined than you would think. The walk takes approximately an hour and the tasting a further hour and a half.

Tasting at McHugh’s. In the comfort of the oldest building in Belfast enjoy an Irish whisky master class. Three wonderful drinks, paired with food samples, to surprise and enjoy. Learn how to enjoy a fine “halfun”, learn what a “halfun” is, discover the history of the spirit and unique place Ulster has in the whiskey story.

These tours do not run on set schedules but can be booked for groups. Go to the booking page and contact

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