Belfast Welcomes the Return of Whiskey Production After 90 Years
In a historic development, whiskey production has commenced in Belfast for the first time since the 1930s. Titanic Distillers, following an £8 million (€9.3m) conversion of the Thompson Dock and Pumphouse in Titanic Quarter, has become the city’s first working whiskey distillery in nearly 90 years. The distillery will produce single malt whiskey made from a blend of malted barley and yeast.
Head distiller Damien Rafferty expressed his excitement at the opportunity to revive whiskey production in Belfast. He believes that the whiskey produced at the distillery could become a new export for Northern Ireland. Rafferty stated, “The job is only beginning as we 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 distillery, which opened its doors to tourists in April this year, aims to provide visitors with an immersive experience exploring the distillery and the site where the Titanic last rested on dry ground. Director Peter Lavery emphasized the significance of the new distillery in reviving Belfast’s lost tradition. Lavery said, “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, originally opened in 1911 to service the White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic, has retained its historic features and pump equipment. Visitors can witness these preserved elements as part of the distillery’s associated tours. Director Stephen Symington highlighted the importance of the project in preserving the city’s history and tapping into the future potential of Irish whiskey. He stated, “From this moment forward, we are now a working distillery in which we will be producing our own products to build on our success to date and make the most of the growing global demand for Irish whiskey.”
The location of Titanic Distillers at Thompson Dock is conveniently situated within walking distance of Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic exhibition center and Northern Ireland’s top tourist attraction. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the exhibition center attracted over 800,000 visitors annually.
With the revival of whiskey production in Belfast, Titanic Distillers aims to honor the city’s industrial and maritime past while creating a unique product and visitor experience. The return of this lost tradition is expected to contribute to the growing global demand for Irish whiskey and put Belfast back on the map as a prominent whiskey-producing city.