Titanic Distillers opens new distillery and visitor attraction centre in historic Pumphouse
After years of planning and ‘hard graft’, Belfast’s newest tourist attraction, and the city’s first working whiskey distillery in almost 90 years, opened its doors to the public on Friday April 28, 2023.
Drinks company Titanic Distillers has invested almost £8 million to convert the historic Titanic Pumphouse, in the heart of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, into a new distillery and visitor centre on the site where Titanic last rested on dry ground, before her maiden voyage.
A listed building, the Pumphouse, and neighbouring Thompson Graving Dry Dock, first opened in 1911 to service and accommodate the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic.
Now, 112 years later, visitors can explore the historic site, experience the workings of the new distillery, and hear the story of Belfast’s whiskey tradition, why it disappeared and how it has now returned at the Pumphouse, the new home of Titanic Distillers.
As the first paying visitors entered the Pumphouse this morning, they were greeted by the giant words ‘Blood, Sweat and Years’ emblazoned on a huge wall at the entrance to the distillery. Inspired by the men who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago – the words also sum up the efforts of the Titanic Distillers team to get to this stage, as director Peter Lavery explained.
“This is a momentous day for everyone at Titanic Distillers and indeed for the city of Belfast,” said Peter.
“To quote our slogan, there has certainly been a lot of ‘Blood, Sweat and Years’ invested over the years in getting this project over the line and I couldn’t be prouder as I stand here today in this historic building as we open our doors to tourists for the very first time.
“The Pumphouse is such an important and authentic part of Belfast’s history and of the Titanic story, so as custodians, we have always been aware of our huge responsibility to preserve the integrity of this amazing building and its surrounds.
“Having survived remarkably well for more than 100 years, the building was in much need of repair but we have lovingly and painstakingly restored it to its former glory and are thrilled to be able to maintain and secure its long-term future – as a must-see tourism attraction for Belfast and the city’s first working distillery since the 1930s and the days of prohibition,” he added.
Visitors to Titanic Distillers at Thompson Dock will have a chance to view the distillery’s three new Forsyth’s stills, situated on a mezzanine floor overlooking the original Gwynne pumping engines which are deep in the building’s pump-well.
All of the original pump equipment and associated internal historic features of the building 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.
Stephen Symington, Director of Titanic Distillers, added: “We have embraced 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.
“However, it is important to recognise that, outside of the site’s massive tourism appeal and historic significance, this is also a working distillery in which we will be able to produce our own products to really build on our success to date, make the most of the growing global demand and bring Belfast back to the forefront of Irish Whiskey production.”
With prices starting at just £10, visitors can choose from one of four tours available to book at www.titanicdistillers.com.
For £10, visitors can enjoy the Dock Tour, a one-hour guided experience of the exterior dry dock, including a 66-step descent into the historic location where Titanic last rested on dry land.
The Signature Tour, which costs £25, is a 60-minute fully guided tour of the distillery, located within the historic Pumphouse, a walk-through the distillation process followed by a ‘sensory experience’ and tasting of Titanic Distillers award-winning Irish spirits.
Premium (£40) and Legacy (£100) Tours are also available – both of which include tours of the distillery, Pumphouse and Thompson Dock, lasting two hours and 150 minutes respectively.
Titanic Distillers at Thompson Dock is within walking distance of Titanic Belfast, the world’s biggest Titanic exhibition centre and Northern Ireland’s number one tourist attraction, clocking up more than 800,000 visitors per annum in the days before Covid-19.
The neighbouring Titanic Hotel, located on the former site of the legendary Harland & Wolff Headquarters and Drawing Offices, is now the world’s most authentic Titanic hotel.
Also resident 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 the First World War and served as an administrative centre in the Second World War.
For more information or to book a tour, visit www.titanicdistillers.com. For larger group bookings, email email@example.com.