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New Deal funding opens up South Korean export opportunity for Belfast whisky McConnell’s

Almost 10,000 bottles of whiskey are to be shipped by a Belfast company to South Korea after it won a listing with a Korean distributor.

dditional funding of £8m through the UK Government’s New Deal for Northern Ireland has helped economic development agency Invest NI establish new locations around the world, from Paris to Seoul.

Now, McConnell’s Irish Whisky will be sent to Korean distributor Goldenblue after a new Invest NI team in Seoul helped the brand secure a listing.

McConnell’s is a revived Irish whiskey brand, with its heritage said to predate the addition of the letter ‘e’ in Irish whiskey.

It is produced by the Belfast Distillery Company, which broke ground on a £22m J&J McConnell’s Distillery and Visitor Experience at Crumlin Road Gaol’s A Wing last year.

Scheduled to open in autumn 2023, the distillery is expected to create 49 new jobs.

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker, who visited Invest NI’s South Korean offices last month, congratulated Belfast Distillery Company on its new export deal.

“With its ambitious export plans, Belfast Distillery Company is now selling its products in over 30 countries, with its latest success showing how UK Government funding is helping Invest NI support Northern Ireland businesses on the world stage,” said Mr Baker.

“Invest NI’s new Korean presence has been instrumental in helping to secure this distribution agreement and I am delighted to see the hard work of the Invest NI team paying off for NI businesses.

“New Deal funding is helping to promote some of the unbelievable talent and expertise that Northern Ireland has to offer and I hope the brilliant success of the Belfast Distillery team can help inspire others to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Invest NI’s new international locations.”

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Dessie Roche, commercial manager of Belfast Distillery Company, and Steve Harper, Invest NI executive director of international skills

Dessie Roche, commercial manager at Belfast Distillery Company, said: “This Korean agreement marks a significant milestone for our business.

“Relationships and personal connections are a very strong part of the Korean culture and we utilised the in-market knowledge of Invest NI’s team in Seoul to build a relationship with Goldenblue, which has helped us secure our first entry into Korea and ultimately bring our product to this significant new market.

“We very much look forward to building on this success in Korea and other international markets in the future.”

Steve Harper, Invest NI executive director of international business, said: “We are supporting Belfast Distillery Company to realise its global export plans and, with a foothold in the Korean market, it is in a very good position for further growth.

“Its success showcases the scale of opportunities available to Northern Ireland businesses, which is why we have chosen this as an area to expand our presence.

“Our in-market team in Seoul are ready and on hand to work in partnership with Northern Ireland companies to help grow their exports and I would encourage local companies to get in touch and see how we can support.”

In December 2020, the UK Government said it was guaranteeing £400m via New Deal for Northern Ireland to boost economic growth.

The funding was aimed at supporting businesses to operate after the Brexit transition period.

Invest NI is offering a Spotlight on Korea tutorial on February 8, offering insight and advice on commercial opportunities in South Korea.

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