Isle of Man rum loved by celebrities gets Harrods boost
RUM distilled in an old milking shed will soon be sold in Harrods as Isle-of-Man-based spirits company continues its London takeover.
With bright, art-led labels designed by a local tattoo artist and named after the Manx word for ‘bloody windy’, white rum Hoolie (41% ABV, £35 for 70 cl) may not be what you might expect to find on Harrods’ illustrious shelves.
But the luxury department store has now placed an order with the craft distillery and expects to start selling their rum as soon as next week.
Created by former journalist Rick Dacey and Ian Warborn-Jones, a winemaker with experience working in Portugal’s Valle Pradinhos vineyards, the Isle of Man rum is also being served at award-winning cocktail bar Trailer Happiness on London’s Portobello Road.
The friends set up the Outlier Distilling Company after transforming an old milking barn – in the middle of a working farm – into a distillery, with a 160-litre wood-fired still fuelled by off-cuts from a local sawmill, and using water drawn from the well of Ballakelly Farm, which is UNESCO biosphere accredited.
The co-founders do everything in the process by hand, from firing up the furnace to labelling the bottles.
The pair’s unconventional methods and bold branding go beyond their distilling and labelling. They received celebrity endorsement from James Blunt by supplying him with a bottle while he was on tour in the Isle of Man last year – and were rewarded with an Instagram post from the star himself.
Outlier’s rum has also been hailed by self-styled ‘global rum ambassador’ Ian Burrell, who recently championed the brand on Alan Titchmarsh’s ITV Sunday morning magazine show, Love your Weekend.
Burrell said: “Outlier made a real splash at last year’s UK RumFest with their Hoolie and Hurricane Manx rums. They’re one of a growing number of craft distilleries putting the British Isles on the rum map.”
Ian Warborn-Jones said being based on the Isle of Man meant their hopes of widespread success had been made far easier.
He said: “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but we certainly would have had a harder job trying to get off the ground in the UK. Being in the Isle of Man has meant our ideas have quickly become a reality. We’ve had great government support as a business to get going, and there’s a real collaborative community here that helps get new businesses off the ground.”
Rick Dacey added: “We knew expansion into the UK market would be essential, and Harrods stocking our product is a stamp of quality that we are absolutely thrilled to receive.”
Outlier is part of a wider revolution in spirit-making coming from the Isle of Man. The small island nation in the Irish Sea with a population of just 85,000 is designated in its entirety as a UNESCO Biosphere – an international recognition of its natural beauty and sustainable business – is also home to acclaimed gin distillery Fynoderee, as well as a number of other successful drinks producers, including the Seven Kingdom Distillery, winemakers Foraging Vintners, and the Kella Distillers.
The Island’s small government means businesses can have frequent, hands-on contact across all agencies, often getting to know officials personally. The government also provides grant assistance enabling new companies like Outlier to attend trade fairs, vital for raising profiles in the UK and, in the case of Outlier, helping to secure the Harrods listing.
Tim Cowsill, head of Business Isle of Man, said: “Outlier are one of several Manx distillers who are combining exceptional produce with a distinctive and creative approach to branding. Our colleagues at the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture recognised the business’s potential at an early stage and facilitated financial assistance through a grants scheme.
“Outlier have utilised this support extremely effectively, and are now one of numerous Manx food and drink companies rising to prominence in the UK and beyond. I’m sure Outlier’s growing popularity will make even more people aware of the amazing products we create right here on the Island.”
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