An infamous Belfast prison which held Irish Republican inmates during the Troubles, is to be transformed into a whiskey distillery, as part of the city’s regeneration plans.

The Crumlin Road Gaol prison, which was built in 1845, held such influential leaders as Eamon de Valera, Gerry Adams, and the Rev Ian Paisley in the past.

The prison which has laid empty since 1996, will be the new site for Belfast’s first whiskey distillery in 75 years.

Cooley distillery board member Willie McCarter welcomed the news, describing it as another step in the onward march of the Irish whiskey industry.

“It’s about bringing whiskey distilling back to Belfast, which was such an important industry there in the past,” McCarter told IrishCentral.

“Jim Beam and Cooley Distillery are pleased to be involved because it’s a very important part of the regeneration of North Belfast and containing the peace process.”

Millionaire lotto winner Peter Lavery who runs the Belfast Distillery Company (BDC) has signed a lease to establish a Cooley Distillery in a wing of the derelict Victorian era building.

A former bus driver, Lavery launched two new whiskeys last year, under the Titanic and Danny Boy brands, which are distilled at the Cooley Distillery in County Louth.

Commenting on the development Lavery said "The existing form of the A Wing in the gaol is ideally suited to this new use without compromise to the character or to the architectural and historic interest of this Grade A listed building.

"The BDC will be the first distillery to operate in Belfast for over 75 years and will be bringing back to prominence an industry with which the city has long historical associations. I'm delighted that we will be able to bring the production of Titanic and Danny Boy whiskeys home to Belfast."

The new multi-million development will include a distillery, a tasting room bar, restaurant, shop and interpretative area. BDC predict the development will eventually create up to 60 jobs.

Here's a tour of the historic buidling thanks to the

The Crumlin Road Gaol prison is to be turned into a distilleryGoogle Images