Company behind Crumlin Road Gaol distillery appoints new chief executive

Belfast Distillery Company's new chief executive John Kelly.
Ryan McAleer

THE company behind plans for a new whiskey distillery in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol has appointed a new chief executive.

John Kelly joins the Belfast Distillery Company from Wash Whiskey, where he was commercial director.

In a career spanning more than three decades,

Mr Kelly’s 30-year career in the drinks industry includes 22 years with Diageo, working across a variety of sales, marketing and management roles in Ireland, Europe and the Middle East.

It comes one year on from Belfast Distillery Company’s launch of McConnell’s Irish Whiskey, with inroads already made in the US market.

The company said Mr Kelly would now oversee the search for additional distribution partners in markets around the globe, while taking forward plans to develop a new £5m whiskey distillery and visitor attraction in north Belfast.

The new chief executive said he has admired the Belfast company for some time.

“They have demonstrated unwavering determination to bring distilling of Irish Whiskey back to Belfast, a city which has a long and proud history of whiskey production.

“My role and that of the team at Belfast Distillery Company will be to build a brand, a distillery and a visitor experience that all of Belfast can be proud of.”

Belfast Distillery Company Director, James Ammeen, added: “Appointing John to this all important role is a significant step for Belfast Distillery Company in what will be a big year for the firm.

“Our McConnell’s Irish Whiskey is already well established in key local and export markets and of course there is always room for growth.

“We have exciting plans for a whiskey distillery and visitor centre and we are delighted that John is now in place to lead our team and take those plans forward.”

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