Progress on the new J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience on the Crumlin Road in North Belfast marked a major milestone this week with the arrival of three new state of the art Whiskey pot stills. The stills were transported by road and sea from Forsyths, a world leader in the supply of distillation equipment, based in the North East of Scotland.
The stills were installed in A wing via a complex engineering feat involving opening the roof of the Grade A Listed Building and operating a crane at the construction site, hoisting each copper still into the air before carefully lowering each one into place. Once operational, the 5000 litre wash still, 3000 litre intermediate still and 3000 litre spirit still will produce triple distilled Single Malt Irish Whiskey. The production capacity of the distillery will be 500,000 litres of pure alcohol (LPAs) per year, which would account for over 4 million bottles of McConnell’s Irish Whisky. Belfast Distillery Company plan to commission the stills in September this year, meaning the first bottle of McConnell’s Irish Whisky distilled from their own distillery could be available before the end of 2026.
Belfast Distillery Company Chief Executive, John Kelly was on hand to oversee the stills installation and outlined the significance of this milestone. He said: “Last August we celebrated the start of the building work for this project which is set to transform a part of this historic landmark in the heart of North Belfast. Nine months on, the arrival of our stills marks the significant progress we are already making. “Later this year the J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will become the new home of McConnell’s Irish Whisky. We will be inviting visitors to come in and learn more about Ireland’s unique distilling process, the history of McConnell’s and it’s connections with Belfast over centuries, plus we will be producing our award-winning McConnell’s Irish Whisky on site. McConnell’s is very much ‘Back in Belfast’.”
The construction of the £22million J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience by the Belfast Distillery Company is well underway and the project is on track to open this Autumn. In total 50 new jobs will be created at the Crumlin Road site. John continued: “We are now right in the middle of this exciting project and our team is growing fast. We are determined to play our part in the North Belfast community, to support the tourism sector right across Belfast and Northern Ireland, as well as adding another distillery to the growing number of distilleries on the island of Ireland.”
The completed distillery will extend over three floors offering 1,000 sq. m. of distilling floorspace and 1,700 sq. m. for the visitor experience, with plans to host over 100,000 visitors each year. Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar, shop, and events spaces for hire.