Forty-nine jobs will be created by Belfast Distillery Company after Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure provided a lease for the J&J McConnell’s Distillery project within the Grade A-listed building.
The jail housed scores of political prisoners up to its closure in 1996, before reopening its imposing Victorian doors as a tourist attraction in 2012.
The distillery will extend over three floors, offering 1,000 square metres of distilling space and 1,700 square metres for the visitor centre.
It aims to attract more than 10,000 visitors to the site each year.
Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar and a shop.
Job opportunities will be available at various levels across sales, marketing, operations, hospitality and finance.
Mr Lyons said: “This multimillion-pound investment will see the transformation of this historic Belfast building and create 49 new jobs, contributing over £1.7 million of additional annual salaries into the local economy.”
“The global Irish whiskey industry has trebled in size over the last decade and Belfast Distillery Company is already a great addition to the sector.”
The Department of Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have provided a combined £1.9 million of support towards the project.
John Kelly, chief executive of Belfast Distillery Company, said: “We launched McConnell’s Irish Whisky in 2020 and we have already achieved significant success in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and China.
“In our home market, we are having great success with our product to date, experiencing significant support from our trade partners in hospitality and retail sectors.”