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Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast welcomes new whiskey distillery

A new whisky distillery has opened its doors at Crumlin Road Gaol, one of Northern Ireland’s leading attractions.

McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience is expected to attract 100,000 people each year and will be a significant addition to the Irish whiskey industry as well as providing a major boost to both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s expanding tourist offering. 


Crumlin Road Gaol is a 19th century prison which housed murderers, suffragettes, and loyalist and republican prisoners during its 150-year history. Today, visitors can see for themselves what prison life was like through the ages on a thought-provoking tour of the notorious gaol, from the tunnel linking the courthouse on the other side of the Crumlin Road to the infamous hanging cell.

TheHunterBros_McConnells_Drone_-_Copy.jpgCrumlin Road Gaol, home of McConnell’s Distillery

The new, state-of-the art distillery is located in the historic A wing of the gaol. Guided tours, which uncover the unique history of an iconic Belfast brand, will give visitors to McConnell’s Distillery the chance to hear stories of Belfast’s illustrious distilling past and to taste some of McConnell’s award-winning Irish whiskies. The distillery also has a shop for gifts, an all-day café and a fully licensed bar to enjoy after the tour. 


Belfast Distillery Company, the venture behind McConnell’s Irish Whisky, has successfully revived a brand that dates back to 1776 and is finding favour in local pubs and bars across Belfast. It is also winning international awards and gaining recognition in global markets including the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. 


The official opening of the new distillery was attended by Northern Ireland’s First Minister and deputy First Minister, alongside US Special Economic Envoy Joe Kennedy.

First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I am committed to maximising every opportunity to further strengthen our economy and improve the lives of all our citizens. This new distillery is a remarkable story of imagination, innovation and determination.”

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said: “The state-of-art distillery in this unique location will make a significant contribution to the local community here in North Belfast and beyond.”

While there’s a convention that the Irish spirit is spelled ‘whiskey’ and Scotch as ‘whisky’ - a practice dating back to the 19th century, when Irish distillers introduced the spelling to differentiate their product from that of Scottish makers - ‘whisky’ was the form traditionally favoured by McConnell’s. A tradition honoured to this day. 


Janet Redler, Managing Director of Janet Redler Travel, said: “The new distillery will provide visitors to Belfast with another incredible experience to enjoy. Crumlin Road Gaol was already one of the city’s top attractions, and the new distillery will add to its appeal as a must-see tourist destination.”

If you or your group would like to include a visit to McConnell’s Distillery and Crumlin Road Gaol on a tailor-made tour of Belfast or Northern Ireland, please do contact our friendly team today.

All photos courtesy of Belfast Distillery Company. 

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