There’s a prison in Belfast that now makes whiskey

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In an extraordinary blend of history and modern spirit production, the Belfast Distillery Company has unveiled its latest venture – McConnell’s Distillery, housed within the historic confines of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast. This remarkable establishment not only marks the return of McConnell’s Irish Whisky to its birthplace but also introduces the first-ever Single Malt distillery to operate within a former prison. Opened to the public on April 30, 2024, this new tourist attraction is already drawing attention, not just for its unique location but for the immersive experience it promises every visitor.

Sydney, which has eagerly anticipated the distillery’s opening, now celebrates as McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience is officially open, with tickets readily available for those keen to explore this innovative attraction. The distillery has undergone a meticulous two-year renovation, preserving the historic essence of the “Crum” – a local nickname for Crumlin Road Gaol, which served as a prison from 1846 to 1996. This transformation represents a harmonious marriage of heritage and innovation, offering Australian travelers to Belfast a one-of-a-kind encounter with the city’s rich history and the exquisite craft of whisky production.


Visitors are treated to a guided tour that not only educates them on the storied past of McConnell’s Irish Whisky but also takes them through the detailed process of brewing, distilling, and maturing the brand’s signature spirits. Led by expert guides, guests will gain intimate knowledge of McConnell’s historic roots and its flourishing global distribution, now reaching over 45 markets worldwide. This personalized experience provides a unique opportunity to observe the creation of triple-distilled, Single Malt Irish Whisky and to sample some of McConnell’s award-winning products.

The transformation of a former prison into the groundbreaking McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience sets a global precedent, offering whisky aficionados a novel destination to explore. This multi-million-pound project not only signifies the resurgence of McConnell’s Irish Whisky but also serves as a testament to the brand’s pioneering spirit that seamlessly intertwines heritage, culture, innovation, and an enduring passion for excellence.

John Kelly, CEO of McConnell’s Belfast Distillery Company, expresses his excitement and confidence in providing visitors with a world-class experience that exceeds expectations. This sentiment is echoed by Mark Johnston, Head of Sales and Marketing, who highlights the significant milestone this opening represents for McConnell’s historic brand on both local and global stages. With the distillery’s whiskies now enjoyed in over 45 countries, the establishment of this new home heralds a promising future for McConnell’s Irish Whisky.

The guided tour, priced at £25 for adult tickets, offers guests a warm welcome with McConnell’s 5 Year Old Whisky, McConnell’s Sherry Cask Whisky, and some freshly distilled ‘new make’ spirit, directly from the stills. For whisky enthusiasts in Australia eager to experience the taste of McConnell’s Irish Whisky, the brand’s 5 Year Old variant is available for purchase at Dan Murphy’s and BWS for $74.

Further details and ticket purchases can be found on the official website,, inviting whisky fans worldwide to be part of this remarkable experience that beautifully blends past and present, setting a new benchmark in the world of whisky tourism.