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.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.
You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to newsletter.co.uk
With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.