Belfast Distillery Company invests £22m in new J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Centre.
The major investment includes plans to regenerate the A Wing of the Crumlin Road Gaol into the J&J McConnell’s Distillery and world-class visitor experience, and to create 49 new jobs.
The Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure has provided Belfast Distillery Company with the lease to develop its distillery within the historic Grade A listed building.
“The global Irish whiskey industry has trebled in size over the last decade, and Belfast Distillery Company is already a great addition to the sector”
Making the joint announcement, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “This mutli-million investment will see the transformation of this historic Belfast building, and create 49 new jobs, contributing over £1.7million of additional annual salaries into the local economy.
“The global Irish whiskey industry has trebled in size over the last decade, and Belfast Distillery Company is already a great addition to the sector. The J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will boost our economy as both an export business, and a tourism offering. I look forward to following its continued growth to becoming a globally recognised brand in the international spirits sector.”
The Department for Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have provided a combined £1.9m of support towards the project.
The distillery will extend over three floors offering 1,000 sq. m. of distilling floor-space and 1,700 sq. m. for the visitor centre, with plans to host over 100,000 visitors each year. Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar and shop.
“We launched McConnell’s Irish Whisky in 2020 and we have already achieved significant success in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and China,” explained John Kelly, CEO of Belfast Distillery Company.
“In our home market, we are having great success with our product to date, experiencing significant support from our trade partners in hospitality and retail sectors.
“The J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience will become the home of our brand and will help us to take our business to the next level in the global whiskey market. The support we have received from across government has been vital to making this ambition a reality for us. We are truly delighted to be developing our distillery in North Belfast and look forward to working with and supporting our local community with employment opportunities. We look forward to helping our great city grow and develop in the years ahead.”
Job opportunities are available at various levels across sales, marketing, operations, hospitality and finance.
This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “My Department, through its Urban Development Grant programme, is providing much-needed investment in north Belfast with grant funding of £656,000 for the Belfast Distillery. The project will deliver economic, social and environmental improvements as well as creating jobs and boosting tourism in the area.”
Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd added: “The historic Crumlin Road Gaol setting will enhance this regeneration project and help to maximise its economic, social and environmental benefits to the local and wider community. I welcome the ambition of this project, the expectation that the Distillery will help create jobs in north Belfast and bring more tourists into the area and that it will play a key role in the regeneration of a significant historic building in Belfast.”
Main image: Belfast Distillery CEO, John Kelly; Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey; Economy Minister, Gordon Lyons; Infrastructure Minister, John O’Dowd; Invest NI Interim CEO, Mel Chittock