Irish whisky company Titanic Distillers has started production at its distillery in Belfast, Northern Ireland – the first time a whisky distillery has made spirit in the city in almost a century.
The Titanic distillery is located on the site of the Thompson Dock and Pumphouse, where the fated ocean liner from which the company takes its name was built in the early 20th century.
Titanic Distillers has invested almost £8 million (€9.35 million) to convert the pumphouse, a listed building in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, into a distillery. It will be the first to have produced whiskey in the Northern Irish capital since the 1930s.
The first distillation run took place this week, overseen by Titanic Distillers' head distiller Damien Rafferty. The distillery will focus on the production of single malt.
Rafferty said: “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, 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.
“A lot of time, hard work and investment has gone into this amazing project to date, but this week marks the culmination of all that – with the distillery and visitor attraction now both fully operational. In many ways, though, 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.”
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.
”Whiskey has played an important part in the history of our 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.”
Fellow director Stephen Symington added: “Our ambition, from the outset, has always been to embrace the history of our distillery’s location to create a unique product and visitor experience, immersed in the spirit of Belfast’s industrial and maritime past and inspired by the people who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago.”
All the original pump equipment and associated internal historic features in the pumphouse were retained during the renovation and are available to view as part of the distillery's visitor tours, while site also features a new food and beverage area. The distillery is close to the Titanic Belfast exhibition centre, Northern Ireland's number one tourist attraction.