Belfast Distillery Company celebrates global reach of McConnell’s with new German deal

John Kelly, chief executive at Belfast Distillery Company
John Kelly, chief executive at Belfast Distillery Company John Kelly, chief executive at Belfast Distillery Company

THE company behind a multi-million-pound whiskey distillery on the site of the old Crumlin Road Gaol has ended the year on a high by signing a new distribution deal with Waldemar Behn GmbH in Germany.

The contract for Belfast Distillery Company was secured in the wake of it making a successful trip to the German market and its signature McConnell’s 5 Year Old Blend wooing connoisseurs at the Bar Convent Berlin trade show earlier this year.

And it adds to the global distribution footprint for one of Ireland’s oldest whisky brands, with partnerships struck already this year in Poland, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, China and Canada.

John Kelly, chief executive at Belfast Distillery Company, said that the success of 2021 was achieved in the face of difficult circumstances, particularly in the alcohol sector, with trade shows and events being cancelled throughout the year.

He said: “The McConnell's brand was born in Belfast in 1776 and we have been working hard to re-establish McConnell’s in our home market, whilst developing our distribution network internationally.

“As it says on the label, we are proud to be following in the footsteps of James and John McConnell and are excited to see McConnell’s Irish Whisky travel from Belfast to Boston and beyond.

“We are delighted to secure a distribution agreement with Waldemar Behn, which is one of Germany’s oldest and most well recognised family-owned companies in the alcohol sector.”

Rudiger Behn, owner and managing director of Waldemar Behn GmbH commented “We have been watching the Irish Whiskey category grow both in Germany and globally and have been keen to find the right partner in this space.

“McConnell’s Irish Whisky is exactly what we have been looking for – great liquid and packaging which we know will be a success with German consumers. This could be seen by the reaction received at Bar Convent Berlin and we are pleased to welcome McConnell’s into the Waldemar Behn portfolio.”

In March Belfast City Council gave unanimous approval to change the vacant Gaol Wing A at Crumlin Road into a fully operational whiskey distillery as part of a £25 million plan by Belfast Distillery Company.

The scheme also involves a new tourist centre, car park, alterations to the existing car park, and associated site works. The tourist centre will feature a bar and restaurant/cafe, and will be the hub for guided tours around the gaol.