Claire McLernon Hinch Distillery

Claire McLernon, Senior Tour Guide at Hinch Distillery

Provide a description of your Tourism offering.  

Situated in the heart of County Down, Hinch Distillery is a state-of-the-art distillery. It produces award winning Irish Whiskeys and Ninth Wave Irish Gin. In 2020, Ninth Wave was recognised as the ‘World’s Most Highly Awarded Gin’.

Offering a self-contained destination visitor experience with an on-site Brasserie which is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Hinch Distillery can also accommodate weddings, conferences and functions.

For those who are keen to see behind the scenes and get up to speed on how whiskeys are made and matured, our Whiskey tours provide the perfect opportunity to enhance your understanding of whiskey’s cultural journey, before savouring our award-winning products.

Our Gin School Experience is a little different, in that it gives customers the chance to come and taste our multi-award-winning gin, before making their own personalised blend to take home.

Whiskey tour bookings and brasserie reservations can be made online via our website 

During Autumn and Winter, we will also be hosting wine tasting evenings. Information relating to these will be published on the website.

Describe how the Summer 2021 season has been for your business?  

Summer 2021 has been a challenge but a welcome one, driven by government guidelines to ensure the comfort and safety of visitors and staff.  

List five things that were different for you in the high season post covid pandemic.

1) Tour numbers had to be limited to ten people per tour. 

2) Tour time slots had to be well-spaced to allow for thorough sanitisation after every tour. 

3) Hand sanitisation takes place on arrival and at regular intervals throughout the tour. 

4) Our guides all wear visors as a safety precaution. 

5) Visitors are encouraged to wear masks and adhere to social distancing practices.

Based on these experiences, what have you learned to do differently?  

We quickly learned that the customer experience is being viewed through a different lens.  For some, there is an apprehension around returning to public places, though a strong desire to engage in social outings in a controlled environment.  For others, the experience is a total release, and it is almost a relief to be in a social environment again. Both of these opinions must be respected and dealt with in different ways to ensure that all our customers receive the best visitor experience possible.

What are your hopes for 2022?

I hope that restrictions will continue to ease, that public confidence will grow and international travel will resume, so that we can welcome more visitors to Hinch Distillery in the future.  We have a fantastic offering and I can’t wait to see our vibrant tourism industry flourish once again.