Belfast Distillery appoints John Kelly

Belfast Distillery Company has laid the ground for significant growth this year and has appointed experienced industry figure John Kelly to lead the organisation.

By Claire Cartmill
Friday, 5th March 2021, 1:00 pm
Belfast Distillery Company appoints John Kelly as Chief Executive Officer
Belfast Distillery Company appoints John Kelly as Chief Executive Officer

John has worked in the drinks sector for over 30 years and joins Belfast Distillery Company from Walsh Whiskey, where he was Commercial Director.

John, who is from Belfast, previously worked in a variety of sales, marketing and general manager roles in Ireland, Europe and Middle East, during a 22-year career with Diageo.

Belfast Distillery Company launched McConnell’s Irish Whisky one year ago and the brand has already achieved significant success in the USA.

John Kelly will oversee the search for additional distribution partners in markets around the globe, while taking forward plans to develop a new whiskey distillery and visitor attraction in North Belfast.

Commenting on his appointment, John said: “I am delighted to take on the role of Chief Executive Officer of Belfast Distillery Company.

“It’s a company with a group of investors that I have admired for some time. They have demonstrated unwavering determination to bring distilling of Irish Whiskey back to Belfast, a city which has a long and proud history of whiskey production. My role and that of the team at Belfast Distillery Company will be to build a brand, a distillery and a visitor experience that all of Belfast can be proud of. The journey has already begun with McConnell’s Irish Whisky now available in Ireland, key European markets and of course the all-important USA market.

“In the coming months we are determined to build strong relationships with distribution partners across Europe and other priority markets for premium Irish Whiskey.”

McConnell’s Irish Whisky is now available in Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, Netherlands, and Italy with new countries and distribution partners lined up in other major Irish Whiskey markets.

Commenting on the appointment, Belfast Distillery company director, James Ammeen, said: “Appointing John to this all important role is a significant step for Belfast Distillery Company in what will be a big year for the firm.

“Our McConnell’s Irish Whisky is already well established in key local and export markets and of course there is always room for growth.

“We have exciting plans for a whiskey distillery and visitor centre and we are delighted that John is now in place to lead our team and take those plans forward.”

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