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Wednesday 24 April 2024

From bombers and bad guys to a new distillery

What was once one of the most notorious addresses in Belfast has been re-born as a whisky distillery.

The A-wing of Crumlin Road jail, which housed key figures during "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland, has been re-launched as a tourism attraction by its American owners.

Earlier this month, the new distilling operation was officially launched following $50 million investment by US-owned Belfast Distillery Company.

The A-wing will soon produce McConnell’s Irish Whisky, with the first bottles made in the facility expected to be available for purchase in 2029.

The launch has seen the revival of the McConnell’s Irish Whisky brand, which had a 150-year history but shut up shop due to the introduction of prohibition in the US in the 1930s.

The McConnell family had an involvement in the Belfast spirits trade dating back to the 18th century.

Joe Babiec, managing director of Belfast Distillery Company, said the final result had “exceeded expectations”.

It is hoped the venture will give tourism a boost in Belfast, with 100,000 visitors expected each year for tastings and tours.

Also known as HM Prison Belfast, and dubbed Europe's Alcatraz, prisoners held at Crumlin Road included future Irish head of state Eamon de Valera, Martin McGuinness, Michael Stone and Bobby Sands.

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