Walled City Brewery & Distillery Visitor Centre to open as tourism attraction in time for 100th anniversary of the end of Derry distillation with the 1921 Watt lock-out
James Huey, Director of the Walled City Brewery, has announced plans for the new tourist attraction to the rear of his award-winning premises at Building 70 in Ebrington.
The Walled City Brewery & Distillery Visitor Centre will result in the creation of 15 new jobs, doubling the bar and restaurant’s workforce to 30.
Exactly 100 years ago this year, the last distillery in Derry – the world-famous Watt & Co - abruptly closed, with the loss of hundreds of jobs when the distiller Andrew Watt locked out striking distillery workers in October 1921.
It was the final chapter in Derry’s position as the distilling capital of Ireland and one of the biggest centres of whiskey production in the world.
Recently, the Walled City Brewery have led the way in a new international tourism trend whereby visitors demand immersive experience-led products.
They launched Ireland’s first ever Homebrew Academy, followed by a Beer Masterclass and the most recent innovation, ‘Unlock the Walled City’ in association with other tourism providers.
These were in such high demand last summer that the brewery had to turn down over 800 visitor requests, hence the need to expand.
Mr. Huey said: “The new visitor centre will enable multiple new tourism experiences around brewing and distilling, plus it will incubate new external experiences to showcase our burgeoning Legenderry Food scene.”
The new centre has been secured through a TourismNI Capital Experience Grant plus private investment, while local architect and interior design firm Clarke & Whiteman, who helped the brewery achieve ‘Most Atmospheric Restaurant in Ireland 2019’, have again secured the contract for the design.
In a design statement submitted in support of a planning application for the hub, Mr. Huey gives a glimpse of what visitors can expect.
“The new experiences would give visitors the chance to be creative, trying out traditional skills whilst being told immersive stories from the city and beyond.
“For example: shuck native Lough Foyle oyster with a local fisherman, followed by a competition to smash the oyster shell for addition to the Foyster Brew.
“Then savour the Foyster and Oyster for dinner; leaf through the original Siege diary to find the totally unique beer recipe that is the basis for the 1689 Siege beer; pick your own botanicals from our wildflower garden, then distil a gin on our small batch gin, design the name and label, then take your own gin home.
“These experiences would add further value by generating visitor demand in the difficult shoulder season and also stimulate the night time economy,” he said.
The new centre will be welcoming visitors back to the city and district in 2021.