Two friends who set up an artisan distillery on a working farm in Andreas have received the ultimate seal of approval: their Manx Hoolie white rum is now being sold in Harrods.
Rick Dacey and Ian Warborn-Jones set up the Outlier Distilling Company after transforming an old milking barn at Ballakelly Farm into a distillery.
It features a 160-litre wood-fired still, fuelled by off-cuts from a local sawmill, and uses water drawn from a well on the farm. All this is part of their pledge as a UNESCO biosphere partner to produce quality spirits in a sustainable way. They also do everything in the process by hand, from firing up the furnace to labelling the bottles.
Rick is a former journalist and Ian is a winemaker with experience working in Portugal’s Valle Pradinhos vineyards. The bold labels for the Manx Hoolie rum were designed by local artist Megan Hindley.
The buzz around the spirit has been growing ever since they sent James Blunt 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. Since then the rum has featured in a blind tasting on Alan Titchmarsh’s TV show ‘Love Your Weekend’, and one of the panel said: ‘I could drink that all day - it’s super delicious.’ Hoolie is also now being served at award-winning cocktail bar, Trailer Happiness, on London’s Portobello Road.
Ian said being based in the Isle of Man meant their hopes of widespread success had been made far easier. He added: ‘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 said: ‘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 drinks production taking place in our island. There is a small but thriving community of distillers and brewers using locally-sourced ingredients and a mix of modern and traditional techniques to leave a mark on the international drinks market.
Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise, said: ‘The food and drink sector makes a significant contribution to the island’s economy. Outlier are representative of a new generation of Manx food and drink producers who are approaching product development with creativity and bold ideas.’
Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘Our Food Business Development Grant aims to foster innovation and expansion within the food and drink sector, and we are thrilled to have been able to support Outlier Distilling Company.
‘It is truly inspirational to witness locally produced goods being featured on a national level at Harrods. We congratulate Rick and Ian for their dedication and effort, and wish them great success.’