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Issue 75 - Last man standing

Whisky Magazine Issue 75
October 2008


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Last man standing

In the latest of our series charting lost distilleries,Gavin Smith looks at Northern Ireland's Coleraine

The County Londonderry town of Coleraine is located just eight miles from Bushmills, the only surviving distillery in Northern Ireland,and Coleraine was the last distillery in Ireland to cease production, operating from the early 1820s until 1978.

During the mid-18th century, the Coleraine area was home to a thriving legal distilling industry, but the 1779 Distilling Act, which inadvertently discouraged the licensed distillation of high quality spirit, and the enduring popularity of illicitly-distilled poitin meant that by the early years of the 19th century, all legal whiskey-making in Coleraine had ceased.

Then, around 1820, a mill in Newmarket Street,Coleraine, owned by John Rennie was converted into a distillery,though records of its early history are sketchy. It began to produce whiskey some time after 1822,and in 1838 the distillery was purchased by Michael Ferrar.By 1845 the highly regarded Coleraine ‘make'was to be found in the bars of the House of Commons.

After operating the distillery for a decade, Ferrar sold it on to James Moore, who already owned the town's Bann distillery,and following Moore's death in 1868 the distillery passed into the ownership of local businessman Robert Taylor.

At the time when Alfred Barnard visited Coleraine in the 1880s, output was a comparatively modest 100,000 gallons a year,and the spirit was aged for the lengthy period of 10 years.The wash still had a capacity of 2,700 gallons and the two spirit stills held a mere 550 gallons ...

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