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Distillery and Vistor Experience will employ 50 people and expects to attract 100,000 visitors per year


McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience officially opened its doors at Crumlin Road Gaol today, joined by the First Minister and deputy First Minister and U.S. Special Economic Envoy Joe Kennedy. The new Distillery, which is already employing 34 people, is expected to attract 100,000 visitors each year and will be a significant addition to the Irish Whiskey industry as well as providing a significant boost to both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s expanding tourist offering.

The venue will play a leading role in the continuing economic and social regeneration of North Belfast and be a new exciting venue for tourism in Northern Ireland as a whole. The total investment in the new company amounts to £30m.

Minister for Infrastructure, John O’Dowd, Economy Minister Conor Murphy and Communities Minister Gordon Lyons also attended the event. They were joined on site by Board members of Belfast Distillery Company who have made the private sector investment which has delivered this landmark project. The McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience, built over the last two years in the ‘A’ wing of the iconic gaol, cost £12m as part of an overall £30m investment in the company.

The Department for Infrastructure has provided Belfast Distillery Company with the lease to develop its distillery within the historic Grade A listed building while the Department for Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have both provided funding. The public-private investment is completed via support from Santander Bank.


McConnell's Distillery Team

McConnell’s Distillery Team


The McConnell’s management team is led by Chief Executive John Kelly, who comes from north Belfast. John was delighted to welcome guests to the distillery today.

He said:

“We have worked towards this day for the last number of years and now this project has gone from being a shared, ambitious vision to a working reality. We are all very proud of what has been achieved here thanks to our investors, partners and team. Working with Invest NI and the local Government departments, we have turned an empty wing of an historic gaol into a place of investment, employment and opportunity, and it is now the home of the famous McConnell’s Irish Whisky which was originally born in Belfast in 1776.”


First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“I am committed to maximising every opportunity to further strengthen our economy and improve the lives of all our citizens.


This new Distillery is a remarkable story of imagination, innovation and determination.


I want to ensure this is a place where entrepreneurs can thrive and where people can come and work in first class facilities such as we see here today.


Let us all work together to help make this an even more successful and prosperous place for the future generations.”


Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said:

“The state-of-art distillery in this unique location will make a significant contribution to the local community here in North Belfast and beyond.


The scale of investment in this project, the creation of a world class visitor experience and the employment opportunities created are all particularly welcome. It’s a great example of government departments working together with the private sector to deliver.”


Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said:

“The A wing of this historic gaol has been truly transformed by this ambitious project which will complement the existing Gaol Visitor Attraction and Conference Centre by encouraging more visitors to the Gaol and helping to put North Belfast on the global stage. I wish all involved every success.”


Economy Minister Conor Murphy said:

“In little more than a decade, distilling has re-emerged as one of the north’s most innovative, dynamic, and export-driven industries. McConnell’s has identified the opportunity the north presents as an exciting investment opportunity. They have created this beautiful new distillery and visitor experience as an innovative export focused business, producing a quality product at a venue that will attract and entertain tourists, along with creating a range of jobs in an area that has suffered from under-investment.”


Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said:

“I’m delighted to attend the opening of this iconic Distillery and Visitor Experience here at Crumlin Road Gaol, which is rich in history. This project has shown the benefits of my Department’s regeneration programmes, and I am pleased that we have been able to contribute to this wonderful project. Creating places where people want to live, work, invest and visit is not only a priority for my own department, but contributes to a wide range of social, community and economic outcomes.”


Tours of the Distillery & Visitor Experience can be booked at www.mcconnellsirishwhisky.com

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