Whiskey production is back under way in Belfast, after nearly a century, this at the site of the historic Thompson Dock and Pumphouse, the birthplace of the Titanic.
A statement from Titanic Distillers noted that the whiskey maker in recent years invested nearly £8 million to convert the Pumphouse into the city’s first working whiskey distillery since the days of prohibition in the 1930s. This is a listed building in the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
Recently, Titanic Distillers were granted their Distillers License to make spirits, and the brand’s new copper stills are now up and pouring at the distillery, under the eye of Head Distiller Damien Rafferty.
“We opened our doors to tourists in April this year, to allow visitors to explore the distillery and the site where Titanic last rested on dry ground,” Rafferty said. “But to finally begin production on site is an incredible feeling and a huge milestone, not just for us but for the city of Belfast.”
He said that, in many ways, their job is only beginning, as they start producing a whiskey “that the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland can be proud of, and one that will represent us well all over the world.”
The new distillery will make single malt whiskey from a house blend of malted barley and yeast, distilled in the three Forsyth’s stills that are situated on a mezzanine floor overlooking the Pumphouse’s original Gwynne pumping engines.
Titanic Distillers Director Peter Lavery said, “It’s been quite a journey over the past five years, but we are thrilled to get our license and to start producing our own spirits on site.”
Lavery said that whiskey has played an important part in the history of his city, “But there hasn’t been a working distillery here since the 1930s, so, as a Belfast boy, it really means a lot to me to revive this great distilling tradition … and help bring Belfast back to the forefront of Irish whiskey production.”
The Thompson Dry Dock first opened in 1911 to service and accommodate the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic.
All of the original pump equipment and associated internal historic features in the adjacent Pumphouse have been retained and are available to view as part of the associated visitor tours, while the exterior includes a new food and beverage area.
Near to the distillery, in the Titanic Quarter, is the SS Nomadic tender ship which ferried passengers to the great liner, and HMS Caroline, a decommissioned C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy that saw combat service in World War I and served as an administrative center in World War II.
For more information, check out www.titanicdistillers.com.