The Irish

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

The Irish Distillery, Belfast, co. Down.

Before leaving Belfast, to continue our Northern tour, we drove to Connswater to see the “Model Distillery.” It is certainly the newest and most modern, for at the time of our visit it was not completed. After our experiences of more than a year, we are bound to admit that this Company have spared no expense to make their Distillery as complete as any we have seen.

The architects are Messrs. Russell and Spence, of Glasgow, whose junior member makes a speciality of this business, and the contractors, Messrs. Dixon & Co., Belfast. The works are built on the banks of the Connswater, a tidal river, and near to the Belfast and County Down Railway; and conveniently placed either for unloading malt or reloading spirits. The buildings throughout, built of red brick of special quality, are of handsome and lofty elevation, and when viewed along with a fine octagonal chimney stack, 160 feet high, present a stately and imposing appearance from every point.

This Distillery is a roomy concern, the estate connected therewith covering twelve acres of ground. The Malt and Barley Stores, and Bonded Warehouses, are being erected on the riverside, along the embankment of the railway, and facing the three Kilns, 35 feet square.

We next visited the Mill, a fine building of three floors, each 50 feet by 25 feet, and containing four pairs of stones, with machinery sufficient for other four pairs. The Storing Bins, which are fitted up throughout, are capable of containing large quantities of grain preparatory to being ground, and are supplied with machinery necessitating no manual labour whatever. A large water cistern is erected over the Mill-room, storing an immense supply of water, and commanding the entire works.

Proceeding a few steps, we came to the Mash House, which is 60 feet by 50 feet, and contains two Mash Tuns; one of them being a construction of steel, calculated to stand a pressure of 20 lbs. per square inch, and is used for pulping the grain previous to the usual mashing process. The other is of cast iron, for mashing purposes, and has all the latest improvements. The first is 20 feet in diameter, and 8 feet deep; the second is 27 feet diameter, and 8 feet deep. On a gallery are three large wooden vessels for brewing liquor, each capable of containing 25,000 gallons, and two of Miller and Co,’s Refrigerators; a Wort Receiver, 34 feet by 10 feet by 4 feet, the Underback below being of the same dimensions. Near to the Mash House is the tank for draining grains, and having three flats underneath for storing them.

Following our guide, we reached the Tun Room at the back of the Boiler House, which is 116 feet long by 46 feet broad, and is the best building for the purpose we have seen, both in ventilation and lighting. It contains twelve Washbacks, splendid vessels, each with a capacity of 25,000 gallons. The Still House is a large and lofty building, said to be the finest in the North of Ireland. One portion of it is allotted to the two Coffey’s Patent Stills, each capable of distilling 4,000 gallons of Wash per hour. The other portions contain the old Pot Stills, all of large capacity. In connection with the Coffey’s Stills are two Wash Chargers, each 25 feet in diameter, and a third, to command the Pot Stills, at a higher elevation. There is a large Feints and Spirit Receiver in this room, and three Spirit Safes, constructed of brass moulded in elegant design.

Retracing our steps, we arrived at the Spirit Store, a large paved room, exceptionally well lighted, containing three Vats, each of 5,000 gallons capacity, and here we observed every appliance that can be thought of for the work. Adjoining the Kiln is the Engine House, 48 by 22 feet, built of brick with solid concrete floors, and handsomely laid off in coloured tiles. It contains a fine engine, compound tandem-surface condensing, of 250-horse power, made by Messrs. Combe, Barbour and Combe, Belfast, and is constructed on the most approved principles. The cylinders (one behind the other), are each supported in the centre, and connected to the bearings of the crank shaft by strong wrought-iron straps. Rods are placed in line with cylinders, so as to be in line of the strain, thus taking the direct thrust and pull of the steam. The valves are on the Corlies’ principle, fitted with the makers’ improved cut-off gear, and acted upon by a high-speed governor of handsome design.

The surface condenser, air pump, and circulating water pump are well placed and easily accessible. Another engine, made by Messrs. W. Malcolm and Co., Belfast, is placed in the Still House, and drives the Coffey’s Still Pumps, which are of an extra substantial make, being of solid brass throughout. This engine, which is of 40-horse power, also drives the stirring gear of the Wash Chargers and Wash Still, and a centrifugal pump. The steam power to work this large concern is derived from three large boilers, made by Messrs. Victor Coates & Co., Limited, at their Prince’s Dock establishment, in Belfast. Each boiler is 28 feet by 7 feet 6 inches diameter. They are high pressure, 80 lbs., constructed of mild steel on the most modern principle. The mountings are also of the very best description, the flues are welded in the longitudinal seams, and the cross-joints flanged after the Adamson principle.

Crossing the court, we come to the Bonded Warehouses, fine buildings and easily worked, having a neat hydraulic lift to each flat. In front of them are the Company’s offices, which are solidly constructed and handsomely furnished throughout. The whole of the buildings are of brick with iron roofing, slated and plastered; every doorway in the establishment has double iron doors and every room is fully provided with fire appliances, should fire be subtle enough to find anything to live on.

We were informed that the output of this Distillery will exceed 2,000,000 gallons yearly. And its success is undoubtedly secured, all the owners being largely engaged in the wholesale trade, and easily able to dispose of the entire quantity this place could manufacture.

All the buildings and offices are lighted by electricity, erected by J. H. Greenhill, of Belfast. The only firms having an interest in the concern being Messrs. Kirker, Greer & Co., Limited; Messrs. Mitchell & Co., Limited; and James Wilson & Son Distillers, all of Belfast