High on ambition: Meet the Irish pilot seeking to develop the world’s biggest distillery in China

Converting the Chinese population from their favourite spirit baijiu to whiskey might be a big ask, but shareholder Stephen Alexander’s Nine Rivers Distillery aims not only to produce quality whiskey, but to start exporting non-whiskey products to Ireland, Britain and the US as early as next year

Stephen Alexander, director of communications for Nine Rivers distillery, aims to produce quality whiskeys in China. Picture: Bryan Meade

Setting up a business in a new country is hard. Setting up in a new country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know the culture, and you’re thousands of miles from friends and family, is even harder.

So when Stephen Alexander moved to Shenzhen, the Chinese city just next door to Hong Kong, he went searching for ways to expand his social circle.

Alexander, who works these days as a pilot for Ryanair, ...