Part of the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast is to be regenerated as part of a local company’s plans to create a new £22 million distillery and visitor centre.
The Belfast Distillery Company were granted a lease by the Department for Infrastructure to renovate the old A Wing of the Grade A listed building.
The Department for the Economy said the venture will create 49 new jobs and provide around £1.7 million of additional annual salaries into the local economy.
The company are behind Belfast’s McConnell’s Irish Whiskey which was launched in 2020 to international success in the US, Canada, Europe and China.
The Department for Communities and Invest Northern Ireland have also provided a combined £1.9million of support towards the project.
The J&J McConnell’s Distillery will extend over three floors offering 1,000 sq. m. of distilling floor-space and 1,700 sq. m. for the visitor centre.
The company said their plans include hosting over 100,000 visitors each year. Visitor experiences will include whiskey tours, cocktail masterclasses, a tasting bar and shop.
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “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.”
Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said: “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.”
Last year the distillery company announced they had secured deals with Paragon Brands in the UK, Ligne de Vin in France, Konitsiotis in Greece and Compagnia Dei Caraibi in Italy.
McConnell’s has also landed a number of industry awards, including a gold medal award at the San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition 2022 and a master medal award in the Irish Blended Whiskey Category at the recent DBSB Spring Tasting 2022.
About the investment, John Kelly, CEO of Belfast Distillery Company, said: “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.”