Belfast Distillery Company has appointed a new chief executive and received permission to develop a new whiskey distillery at Belfast's landmark Crumlin Road Gaol.
New Chief Executive
As reported by The Irish News, former Wash Whiskey commercial director John Kelly has been appointed as chief executive of Belfast Distillery Company.
The Irish News quotes Kelly as saying, "[Belfast Distillery Company has] 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."
Meanwhile, Belfast Distillery Company director James Ammeen stated, "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 Whiskey 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."
Whiskey Distillery Project
The whiskey distillery and visitor centre that Ammeen mentioned above is the aforementioned facility that Belfast Distillery Company has just received permission to develop at Belfast's landmark Crumlin Road Gaol.
According to The Irish News, Belfast City Council has signed off on a £15 million plan by Belfast Distillery Company to transform Crumlin Road Gaol's vacant "A" wing into a distillery facility.
The planned facility is part of a £25 million tourism and hospitality investment by US backers of Crumlin Road Gaol, which has been vacant since 1996.
The distillery facility project was previously green lit by Belfast City Council in April of 2013, and work commenced on it in February of 2015, the month after Belfast Distillery Company signed a lease agreement. However, work halted in July of 2015, and the newly-approved planning permission application was submitted following meetings with planning officials in 2019.
The Irish News quotes Kelly as saying in reaction to the new approval by Belfast City Council, "Securing planning permission is a very welcome milestone for Belfast Distillery Company and our plans to build a distillery and visitor centre on this unique site in the former Crumlin Road Gaol.
"As we hopefully emerge from the COVID era, tourism will have a crucial role to play in rebuilding the local economy and this project can ultimately bring high quality jobs to the region and bring many tourists to north Belfast."
Kelly added, "We remain in ongoing dialogue with other government departments and we hope to move into the building phase in the months ahead."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.