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Belfast hospitality legends to feature in new Powers 'Old But Gold' campaign

Niall McKenna (left) and Willie Jack (right) in the new £2m extension of The Friend At Hand Irish whiskey museum and emporium. Pictures by Elaine Hill
Niall McKenna (left) and Willie Jack (right) in the new £2m extension of The Friend At Hand Irish whiskey museum and emporium. Pictures by Elaine Hill

WELL known Belfast hospitality figures are set to feature in a new campaign by Powers Irish Whiskey.

Willie Jack of the Duke of York fame and chef Niall McKenna of Waterman House and James Street South are among the interviewees for the Cork-based drinks brand’s ‘Old But Gold’ series.

The pair have been interviewed by Belfast-based whiskey blogger Ronan Collins in the first of a four-part promotional series.

Recently recorded in Willie Jack’s new multi-million pound Irish whiskey museum, ‘The Friend At Hand’ on Hill Street, the pair recounted the stories central to the evolution of Belfast’s hospitality and tourism scene and their shared vision for the future of the Cathedral Quarter.

READ MORE: Rare Irish whiskey mecca opens in Belfast after £2 million fit-outOpens in new window ]

“We love Belfast, we’re proud of Belfast. All of us work here, together as a community,” said Willie Jack. “It all started with our two wives, both called Joanne, and continues today.

“Everyone, from the person who opens the door of The Duke of York, or the person that makes you feel welcome in Waterman House, we all work together, and look out for each other – that’s what makes it special.”

L-R: Whiskey blogger Ronan Collins (Whiskey4Breakfast) with Willie Jack and Niall McKenna recording the first episode of Powers' ‘Old But Gold’ series.
L-R: Whiskey blogger Ronan Collins (Whiskey4Breakfast) with Willie Jack and Niall McKenna recording the first episode of Powers' ‘Old But Gold’ series.

Niall McKenna added: “Food and wine is my passion. “Willie’s passion is the bars, the antiques, the stories.

“For me, when those passions merge – from Muddlers Club to The Merchant, to Neighbourhood Café, to the yoga studio, together they create positivity and that’s what we’re trying to bring to the Cathedral Quarter and into the centre of Belfast.

“As we move on, Willie’s going to come up with ideas, I’m going to come up with ideas, other people, and the two Joannes will come up with ideas and we’ll follow in their wake - that’s what brings the place on.”

Willie Jack finally unveiled the new £2m extension to The Friend At Hand last week.

Home to the largest collection of Irish whiskeys in the world, the new space features an impressive collection of rare artefacts, collectibles, and vintage mirrors, all surrounding a rare carpet woven in Killybegs by the same factory that produced carpets for the Oval Office in The White House and for Buckingham Palace.

L-R: Willie Jack, Ronan Collins and Niall McKenna outside The Friend At Hand in Hill Street, Belfast.
L-R: Willie Jack, Ronan Collins and Niall McKenna outside The Friend At Hand in Hill Street, Belfast.

In a special collaboration with the Pernord Ricard owned whiskey brand, people that purchase a premium bottle of Powers in the run up to Christmas will be given a special pair of Powers slippers, and an invitation to walk across the museum’s rare carpet to view some of the world’s most exquisite – and rare – Irish whiskeys.

As part of the ‘Old But Gold’ campaign, replicas of the beloved Powers Mirrors will pop up in locations across Belfast and beyond over the coming months. The first mirror has been installed on Commercial Court, outside iconic Belfast pub, The Duke of York.

A special programme of pop-up musical performances will kick off in front of the Powers mirror at Commercial Court at 5pm on Friday (December 9).

Commenting on the installation, Sarah Harvey, brand manager for Powers Irish Whiskey said: “Our Old But Gold campaign celebrates the pioneering spirit of people that has paved the way for progress, putting Belfast and Northern Ireland on the map.

“As part of our campaign, we’re proud to unveil the first in a series of replica Powers mirrors. The end of the year is a natural time to stop, take stock and reflect; To look back on the experiences you’ve had, the people you’ve met, and the places you’ve been.”