Belfast Distillery Company has doubled its workforce as it expands its operations, both locally and globally.


The newly expanded team widens the expertise and capacity of Belfast Distillery Company (BDC), as it brings McConnell’s Irish Whisky to bars and off-licences from Belfast to Brisbane and Boston to Berlin.

The latest additions to the BDC team include Dessie Roche, who joins the team as commercial manager, having come from a background in accounting and international sales, and Joanne Paffey, who fills the role of supply chain controller, bringing experience in manufacturing and production planning. Conchúr Fitzpatrick has also come on board, as McConnell’s brand ambassador, and will be involved in brand development, marketing, social media and sales, as well as travelling to trade events, promoting the brand in recently established markets.

This period of growth also sees the promotion of Sarah Kennedy to the position of brand manager, as the team ramps up its marketing communications across all channels and the distributor network.

Statement By CEO

Speaking about the appointment of the newest team members, John Kelly, CEO at Belfast Distillery Company, said, “Thanks to the efforts of our existing team and the industry response received for the newly restored McConnell’s Irish Whisky brand across the globe, Belfast Distillery Company has experienced rapid growth over the last six months. Even in a market as competitive as premium Irish whiskey, McConnell’s is standing out, both with traditional consumers and those who are new to the category. The fact that we are expanding so rapidly to meet the demand is proof of today’s positive performance, and that the future is very bright for McConnell’s Irish Whisky.

“Belfast Distillery Company and our McConnell’s Irish Whisky brand is bringing Irish Whiskey distilling back to Belfast, and in support of that goal, we need a strong team on the ground here in the city. We are often at events and trade shows across the US and Europe, and we are determined to build an ambitious and experienced team here in Belfast, which will be crucial to our continued success. We are delighted to welcome our new members to the team and look forward to seeing the positive impact we know they will have on McConnell’s Irish Whisky.”

© 2022 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

THE company behind a multi-million-pound whiskey distillery in the former Crumlin Road Gaol has landed new distribution deals in the UK, Europe and Canada.

The Belfast Distillery Company has confirmed deals with Paragon Brands in the UK; Ligne de Vin in France; Konitsiotis in Greece; and Compagnia Dei Caraibi in Italy.

The growing whiskey venture, which has revived the historic McConnell’s brand, has also expanded its reach in North America, where Noble Estates Wines & Spirits will manage supply to the Ontario market and McCarthy Wines & Spirits will supply Nova Scotia.



Light, lifted aromas of honey, strawberries in cream, warm cereal, biscuit dough, and orange blossom. Easygoing and mouthwatering on the palate, citrus, vanilla, and a hint of sweet spice make for a classic Irish whisky worthy of a spot behind any bar.


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.


McConnell’s Irish Whisky 5 Year Old Blend has won a Gold Medal at the prestigious Warsaw Spirits Competition. The Warsaw gold medal award signals the entry of McConnell’s into the all-important Polish market via a new partnership in the region with Navigator – Spirit Depot. 

McConnell’s, founded in 1776 and now owned by Belfast Distillery Company has re-emerged strongly in the last 18 months supported by its new “Restoring The Legend” campaign. The result has been increased distribution in local and international markets, with McConnell’s attracting widespread acclaim for its taste and diversity. This was the 4th annual Warsaw Spirits Competition and each category was judged through blind taste testing with samples coming from 25 different countries. McConnell’s was scored for its aroma, taste, finish and overall impression with the whisky scoring 86.5 out of 100 points.


Sarah Kennedy, McConnell’s Irish Whisky brand ambassador was born and raised in Belfast. McConnell’s Irish Whisky brand was re-introduced in 2020.

What Attracted You To The Industry?

While studying in Ulster University I worked in hospitality, and this is where my interest in spirits started. Through that I developed an interest in Irish Whiskey, The Irish whiskey industry is a very exciting fast-moving industry which has seen incredible growth over the past 6 years. My enthusiasm for Belfast city, which is my home and the home of McConnell’s, led me to the opportunity of a lifetime to come and work as the brand ambassador for this iconic Belfast whisky brand. Over the past year I have learnt so much about the brand and the exciting growing market of Irish Whiskey.



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