Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd have visited Belfast Distillery Company at Crumlin Road Gaol to welcome a £22.3 million investment.
The major investment includes plans to regenerate the A Wing of the Crumlin Road Gaol into the J&J McConnell’s Distillery and world-class visitor experience, and to create 49 new jobs.
The Department for Infrastructure has provided Belfast Distillery Company with the lease to develop its distillery within the historic Grade A listed building.
Making the joint announcement, Mr Lyons said: “This multi-million 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 J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will boost our economy as both an export business and a tourism offering.
“I look forward to following its continued growth to becoming a globally recognised brand in the international spirits sector.”
The Department for Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have provided a combined £1.9 million of support towards the project.
Ms Hargey said: “My department, through its Urban Development Grant programme, is providing much-needed investment in north Belfast with grant funding of £656,000 for the Belfast Distillery.
“The project will deliver economic, social and environmental improvements as well as creating jobs and boosting tourism in the area.”
Mr O’Dowd said: “The historic Crumlin Road Gaol setting will enhance this regeneration project and help to maximise its economic, social and environmental benefits to the local and wider community.
“I welcome the ambition of this project, the expectation that the distillery will help create jobs in north Belfast and bring more tourists into the area, and that it will play a key role in the regeneration of a significant historic building in Belfast.”
John Kelly, CEO 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.
“The J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will become the home of our brand and will help us to take our business to the next level in the global whiskey market.
“The support we have received from across government has been vital to making this ambition a reality for us.
“We are truly delighted to be developing our distillery in north Belfast and look forward to working with and supporting our local community with employment opportunities.
“We look forward to helping our great city grow and develop in the years ahead.”
The distillery will extend over three floors offering 1,000 sq m of distilling floor-space and 1,700 sq m for the visitor centre, with plans to host over 100,000 visitors each year.
Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar and shop.
Job opportunities are available at various levels across sales, marketing, operations, hospitality and finance.
This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
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