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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).

SARAH KENNEDY

BRAND AMBASSADOR

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’.

ROY GOODLAD

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Born in Scotland, Roy graduated with a Master’s degree in Manufacturing Sciences and Engineering at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. He spent a number of years in project management in industry before his knowledge and passion for whisky (and whiskey) brought him to the Bushmills Distillery, where he eventually became Engineering Manager.

After seven years there Roy moved to The Dublin Liberties Distillery, where he managed the construction of the distillery from start to finish. Roy is now a key part of the McConnell’s team. Today he is focused on our production including sourcing, packaging and innovation as well as the design, installation and operation of our new distillery in Belfast. ‘It’s a very complicated process, but at the end, you do get whisky.’

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.

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