Day 187 of 400: Giants Causeway and Bushmills – Northern Ireland

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Oh Giants Causeway…what a cool site.  We have seen quite a few sites and islands made due to a volcanic eruption but nothing like this one.  The hexagon shape of the flat stones standing up to 39 ft high are so different.  There are many people wanting to experience this phenomenon but even through the crowds, the rock structure on the edge of the mountain sitting on the ocean is quite majestic.

We spent a while walking on the stones, taking pictures and looking around at all the crazy rocks…how did a volcano create this specific consistent shape of rocks?  We continued walking past the causeway and up the mountain for a 3 hour hike on the very edge of the cliffs without a rail called the Shepherd’s path.

The views along the way were breathtaking.  We experienced typical Irish weather while hiking…rain, wind, cold and sun as we looked down at the ocean crashing into the cliffs.  The rugged terrain reminded us of Hawaii.

Back in the car and soaking wet from the rain, we drove straight to the Bushmills Distillery.  The oldest distillery in Ireland.  We had been on the distillery tour in Scotland and thought it would be interesting to compare it to the Irish process.

The tour was very similar to the Scottish tour which we don’t have pictures of the equipment and process because they do not allow photography.  The are a couple main differences between scotch and Irish whisky.  The Scottish use a smoked peat to dry their barley which adds the classic smoky flavor to their final product and they only distill the alcohol twice so as to keep the smoky flavor.  The Irish don’t use smoke and distill their product three times which gives the whisky its classically  delicate taste.

After the tour, they of course had us do a tasting (twist my arm)…explaining the difference in types of barrels and amount of years it aged make all the difference in flavors of their whisky.  We tried a couple and bought a bottle of their special reserve only sold at the distillery.  We also tried their drink called the “hot toddy”.  It was served warm and had spices like whole cloves and cinnamon with a bit of honey…it was kind of their version of a hot cider.  Giff and are going to try to make the recipe around Christmas.

For dinner, we went to a little town on the water called Portrush…we saw the English flag everywhere and realized this was definitely northern Ireland vs. the south.  The people even acted a bit differently and we could see the English influence on food as there were back to back fish n chips places lining the streets.  We felt it necessary to try the fish n chips which were served wrapped in paper (to soak up the grease) and were nicely crisp.

We left the small town, stopping in Bushmills before calling it a night to grab some more food.  We ate the Irish version of homemade lasagna which had a really rich white cheese and a beef potpie type dish.  We went back to our place to watch a movie and get packed up since check out is tomorrow.

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