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TEAM

Meet the Team that are Restoring the Legend

JOHN KELLY

CEO

John is a highly respected drinks industry veteran, with over 30 years’ experience in the sector, including 22 years with Diageo, where he held senior roles in sales, marketing and general management within Ireland, Europe and the Middle East. John also worked with Walsh Whiskey in Carlow, Ireland.

In 2021 John joined Belfast Distillery Company as CEO and is building the team which will bring distilling back to Belfast – via a new distillery to be built on a historic landmark site in Belfast city.

In his spare time John enjoys playing golf, coaching and ferrying his children around to their various sports events, ‘and best of all, watching from the sidelines’.

PATRICK COLLINS

CFO

A chartered accountant, Patrick has worked at senior management and executive level in multi-national publicly traded companies, and in medium to large sized private enterprises. Working in a diverse range of sectors including construction, pharma, packaging, dairy processing and more recently banking, Patrick brings proven and extensive finance experience to the team.

Patrick graduated in accounting at Ulster University and received his professional training in Belfast and Hong Kong with PwC. 

Patrick’s interests include golf, rugby union, walking, music, dining out (or experimenting, with mixed results, with recipes at home).

DESSIE ROCHE

COMMERCIAL MANAGER

After graduating from Queen’s University Belfast, Dessie became a chartered accountant while working in professional services. He has since held several commercial positions, most recently leading the growth of the North American operation of a global technology business. Dessie is particularly passionate about bringing local products to the international stage.

He is a dedicated Irish whiskey enthusiast, and has completed WSET Level 1, as well as the Certificate in Irish Whiskey. Away from work, when not spending time with his family, Dessie enjoys sports including football, rugby, running and golf.

SARAH KENNEDY

BRAND MANAGER

After graduating in Business Studies from Ulster University, Sarah spent time in the corporate sector before joining the Belfast Distillery Company team. She recently completed her WSET Level 1 in Spirits, and is continuing her studies of the sector. ‘I see that knowledge is essential to our goal here – helping to bring a legendary whisky back to life,’ she says.

Born and bred in Belfast, Sarah loves her home city and is always keen to introduce people to it – and to McConnell’s. Happily, her role as brand ambassador allows her to combine these twin passions.

A busy mum, Sarah finds time when she can for running, live gigs – ‘and of course, the local whiskey clubs’.

CONCHÚR FITZPATRICK

BRAND DEVELOPMENT GRADUATE

Conchur is a Belfast Boy through and through - born, lived, attended school, university and worked in Belfast; primarily in the hospitality industry where he has extensive work experience. He is an experienced mixologist, having worked at all levels in the on trade of Belfast for close to 8 years, writing many creative cocktail menus on his journey so far. He’s also an experienced Tour Guide of Belfast, specifically focusing on the wonderful historic bars around the city. Conchur has a huge interest in travelling, favourite places would be New York, Budapest and Zambia where he was involved in charity work.

Always been into sport in a big way, playing amateur football to a highly competitive level for his local football club. He enjoys hiking, climbed seven of the Mournes last year and has a goal to hike carauntoohil, which is the tallest mountain in Ireland.  He also enjoys a wide range of music and attending live gig and festivals. A massive foodie, Conchur skills were originally passed on from his mum learning how to cook traditional, Irish, family meals, but working in hospitality Conchúr has branched out enjoys cooking new and different cuisines for friends and family.

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