Progress on the new J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience on the Crumlin Road in North Belfast marked a major milestone this week with the arrival of three new state of the art Whiskey pot stills. The stills were transported by road and sea from Forsyths, a world leader in the supply of distillation equipment, based in the North East of Scotland.

The stills were installed in A wing via a complex engineering feat involving opening the roof of the Grade A Listed Building and operating a crane at the construction site, hoisting each copper still into the air before carefully lowering each one into place.

Once operational, the 5000 litre wash still, 3000 litre intermediate still and 3000 litre spirit still will produce Triple Distilled Single Malt Irish Whiskey. The production capacity of the distillery will be 500,000 litres of pure alcohol (LPAs) per year, which would account for over 4 million bottles of McConnell’s Irish Whisky. Belfast Distillery Company plan to commission the stills in September this year, meaning the first bottle of McConnell’s Irish Whisky distilled from their own distillery could be available before the end of 2026.

Belfast Distillery Company Chief Executive, John Kelly was on hand to oversee the stills installation and outlined the significance of this milestone. He said:

“Last August we celebrated the start of the building work for this project which is set to transform a part of this historic landmark in the heart of North Belfast. Nine months on, the arrival of our stills marks the significant progress we are already making.

“Later this year the J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will become the new home of McConnell’s Irish Whisky.We will be inviting visitors to come in and learn more about Ireland’s unique distilling process, the history of McConnell’s and it’s connections with Belfast over centuries, plus we will be producing our award-winning McConnell’s Irish Whisky on site. McConnell’s is very much ‘Back in Belfast’.”

The construction of the £22million J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience by the Belfast Distillery Company is well underway and the project is on track to open this Autumn. In total 50 new jobs will be created at the Crumlin Road site. John continued:

“We are now right in the middle of this exciting project and our team is growing fast. We are determined to play our part in the North Belfast community, to support the tourism sector right across Belfast and Northern Ireland, as well as adding another distillery to the growing number of distilleries on the island of Ireland.”

The completed distillery will extend over three floors offering 1,000 sq. m. of distilling floor-space and 1,700 sq. m. for the visitor experience, with plans to host over 100,000 visitors each year. Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar, shop, and events spaces for hire.

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.


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