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Issue 117 - The last of the line

Whisky Magazine Issue 117
February 2014


This article is 4 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The last of the line

Following in the footsteps of the world's richest man, the first female Nobel Prize winner, and Hollywood legends past and present

After a right hearty breakfast and a comforting Irish coffee at Belfast's most agreeable Malone Lodge Hotel, we met Belfast city tour guide Billy Scott. He suggested we nip down to Hamilton Docks, there to investigate certain new whiskey rumours, and a Titanic era vessel - SS Nomadic, last of the illustrious White Star Line ships. “She's on display next to the world's largest Titanic exhibit,” Billy confided, hailing a retro looking taxi.

Once ships heavy with teas from Ceylon, teak from Burma, silks from China sailed into Belfast ports. Here, too, fathers brought their wide-eyed sons to admire great ships from faraway places with strange sounding names – replaced in our time by unlovely container ships, sterile waterfronts scanned by paranoid security cameras, and where docklands no longer welcome boys, nor dreamers.

In tribute to shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, Titanic Belfast boasts soaring silver ship-like bows of Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. Visitors are immersed in 19th century shipyard life via impressive sound effects, vintage newsreels and gigantic murals. From top floors lifts descend as if through each of Titanic's nine deck levels. At the bottom, beneath a glass floor, slowly moving wreck site panoramas give the notion of gliding above Titanic's undersea grave. Just one quarter her size, Nomadic is often referred to as “mini Titanic” and ghosts of old passangers and sailors haunt every deck and every salon.

Titanic's draft was too deep to enter ...

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