By SAM BUTLER
Titanic Irish Whiskey could soon have a new home in a distillery near where the ill-fated luxury liner was built.
A new company, Titanic Distillers Ltd, has lodged plans to develop a new distillery at the existing pump-house building at the Thompson Dry Dock in Titanic Quarter and within walking distance of the world leading Titanic Building and the Nomadic vessel which ferried passengers to the liner.
Opened in 1911, Thompson Dry Dock was built to accommodate the massive White Star transatlantic liners Olympic and Titanic.
The proposal, which remains at the pre-planning stage, seeks permission to turn the on-site café/restaurant in the pump-house into a new distillery and tourist centre.
The dry dock is a key tourism feature of the Titanic Quarter, and sits close to HMS Caroline and one of Belfast’s most important business and innovation hubs, Catalyst, formerly known as the Northern Ireland Science Park.
Titanic Distillers Ltd was set up in August 2018 as a joint venture between Peter Lavery and Belfast-based investment company Norlin Events, which is owned by Richard Irwin and Stephen Symington.
Peter Lavery, a lotto millionaire, was behind the original scheme to transform part of Crumlin Road gaol into a whiskey distillery.
Titanic Distillers owns the established Titanic premium whiskey brand.
The pump-house is a listed building, while the dock itself remains a scheduled monument.
Outlining the nature of the proposal, Titanic Distillers’ planning consultants O’Toole & Starkey aims is “to avoid any harmful intrusive works to the fabric of the listed building”. All distillery equipment and new internal mezzanine floors would be supported by a floating structure within the pump-house.
The consultants added: “All pump equipment and associated internal historic features of the building will also be retained in-situ and available to view as part of the visitor tour.”
The exterior of the pump-house would remain untouched under the plan.
A full planning application is expected next month. If approved, the new site is expected to be open by the end of next year.
The relaunch of the Titanic Whiskey brand is scheduled in April 2021 to coincide with the departure of Titanic on its maiden voyage in April 1912.
The whiskey was first launched in Belfast on May 31, 2011, the 100th anniversary of the launch of the ill-fated liner from the Harland and Wolff shipyard.
Mr Lavery said: “Before Prohibition, Belfast was the largest producer of Irish whiskey on the island of Ireland.
“Whiskey has therefore played an important part in the history of our city and we are excited to tell this story through the relaunch of our Titanic Whiskey brand and the development of a new distillery at Titanic Dry Dock and Pump-house.”