Limavady

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Limavady Distillery, Newtown, Limavady, co. Londonderry.

A short run from Coleraine, on the Northern Counties Railway, mostly along the coast, with a fine sea view and a long stretch of landscape, brought us to Newtown, Limavady, wherein is situated the above interesting and old-fashioned Distillery, which stands on the hill, about ten minutes walk from the railway station.

Limavady is a market town, and a place of great historic interest, for here, on the brow of a romantic hill called Lima-vaddy, signifying “The Dog’s Leap,” from which the town takes its name, stood the Castle of O’Cahan , who was the head of a powerful and warlike Sept. The estimation in which they were held appears from the fact that Desmond O’Cahan was summoned by Edward II. to attend him with his force on his disastrous expedition against Scotland. Desmond obeyed, but instead of joining the Army of the Invader, he was found in the ranks of the Scottish King at Bannockburn. A lineal descendant of these O’Cahans, a stone mason by trade, resides in the town, and built a chimney-stack of the Limavady Distillery.

The Castle was several times besieged, once for an entire winter, but in the end the Irish Army was successful, and burnt the whole town, church, and Castle. The town was rebuilt after the Revolution; hence the name of Newtown . From the lands adjoining the Distillery, the property of the Company, we had a fine view of the surrounding country. The environs of the town are exceedingly beautiful. To the north-west is the rich vale of Myroe, extending to the shores of Loch Foyle. To the east and north-east is the lofty range of Benyevenagh, and to the south the summits of Donald’s Hill and Benbradagh, the latter standing out in bold relief against the sky, and covered with a roseate suffusion of colours reflected from the autumn sun which threw its crimson shadows on the heights and into the crevices; at our feet, below the hill, the Roe or Red River, so called from the colour of its waters, runs its course through the fertile flat, until it falls into Lough Foyle at Myroe. But to return to the Distillery. It is a most antiquated work, built early in the century, and covers about two acres of ground. The estate consists of upwards of 10 acres, which Messrs. Young, King & Co., ultimately propose to utilize.

The water used comes from the Well-glass, a spring in the hills, bubbling up for ages past, and mentioned in old records as the Fairies’ looking-glass, from its transparent beauty. Here, it is said, these sprites came from the dells and glades to arrange their tresses and bind on their floral chaplets. This stream, clear and sparkling, is conveyed by a conduit, three moles to the Distillery, where it is used in the manufacture of the Limavady whisky, so well known, and which moistens the lips and cheers the heart of many an “Exile of Erin” in distant colonies of the Empire.

The works include two large Grain Stores, 100 feet by 36 feet. To one of these is attached a large Kiln, floored with perforated

Worcester tiles, and heated by open furnaces. The Malt House is spacious and well ventilated, and has one of the old-fashioned Stone Steeps, so easily cleansed and sweetened. Over the bonded Warehouses there is an extensive dry Grain Loft, holding some hundreds of tons of grain. In the Mill building we noticed all the usual appliances, such as Malt Rollers, pairs of Stones, &c. The Grist Loft is contiguous to the Mill, and underneath this Loft are several Mash-tuns capable of containing 10,000 gallons each, and having patent double-action stirring rakes. The heating tanks have an average capacity of 4,000 gallons each, and are advantageously placed for economising fuel. From this department we were conducted into the Tun Room, containing a number of Washbacks, holding from 6,000 to 10,000 gallons each, a Miller’s Refrigerator, a large Underback, ponderous sets of three-throw pumps, a Wash pump, and a Wash Charger of large capacity. Passing along to the Still-house, we were shown some Pot Stills. They are heated by steam casings, and are the only kind used in this establishment. The Worm-tub, containing 20,000 gallons of water, is fixed on an outer building.

In the Running Room are to be found Receivers for Spirits, Low Wines, and Feints, besides the usual safes. We next passed the Spirit Store, containing an enormous vat, thence to the Engine House containing two boilers, 20 feet long by 2 feet in diameter; also an excellent engine of 12-horsr power.

The Buildings include, of course, a Cooperage, Carpenters’ Shops, &c.

The three bonded Warehouses contained 3,000 casks of Limavady Whisky, of various ages.

The head-quarters of the Company are at Belfast, which we visited on our return journey. They are situated in Talbot and Robert Streets, and consist of a noble pile of buildings, with a frontage in both streets of 270 feet. The general offices are at the lower end of Talbot Street, and are entered through a fine vestibule paved with encaustic tiles, screened off by a handsome glazed partition. This lobby leads into the general counting-house, fitted with mahogany desks and brass ledger rails, also to private offices and sampling rooms, the walls and ceilings of which are lined with polished pitch-pine. All these apartments are elegantly decorated and furnished.

The Bonds, Cooperage, etc., are at the back of the offices, and are all in direct communication with the offices by telephone.

The Annual Sale in bond at this Establishment is said to amount to 900,000 gallons, which is mostly shipped to the wholesale houses of England, Scotland, and the Colonies.

The annual output of the Distillery, however, is about 250,000 gallons.