Belfast Distillery Company (BDC) has laid the ground for significant growth this year and has appointed experienced industry figure John Kelly to lead the distillery.
John has worked in the drinks sector for over 30 years and joins Belfast Distillery Company from Walsh Whiskey, where he was commercial director.
The Belfast man previously worked in a variety of sales, marketing and general manager roles in Ireland, Europe and Middle East during a 22-year career with Diageo.
BDC launched McConnell’s Irish Whisky one year ago and the brand has already achieved significant success in the USA.
John will oversee the search for additional distribution partners in markets around the globe, while taking forward plans to develop a new whiskey distillery and visitor attraction in north Belfast.
Commenting on his appointment, John says: “I am delighted to take on the role of Chief Executive Officer of Belfast Distillery Company.
“It’s a company with a group of investors that I have admired 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.
“The journey has already begun with McConnell’s Irish Whisky now available in Ireland, key European markets and, of course, the all-important USA market.
“In the coming months we are determined to build strong relationships with distribution partners across Europe and other priority markets for premium Irish whiskey,” he adds.
McConnell’s Irish Whisky is now available in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, Netherlands and Italy, with new countries and distribution partners lined up in other major Irish whiskey markets.
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