Isle of Man rum gets Harrods boost

Monday, 15 May 2023

Rick Dacey and Ian Warborn-Jones holding Hoolie rum bottle in front of HarrodsRum distilled in the Isle of Man is being sold in Harrods as local distillery Outlier continues its London takeover.

The bright, art-led labels of white rum Hoolie, which were designed by local artist Megan Hindley, are now displayed alongside some of the world's most prestigious spirit brands on the illustrious shelves of Harrods. 

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. This is part of their pledge as a UNESCO biosphere partner to produce quality spirits in a sustainable way. 

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.

Ian Warborn-Jones, 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.’

Co-founder, Rick Dacey commented:

‘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, commented:

‘The food and drink sector makes a significant contribution to the Island’s vibrant economy. We have a long history of exporting exceptional produce, from world-renowned seafood, such as Queenies, to award winning cheeses. Outlier are representative of a new generation of Manx food and drink producers who are approaching product development with creativity and bold ideas.

‘Working with local producers to grow their off-Island exports is a priority for the Department for Enterprise, and we look forward to following Ian and Rick’s story as they fulfil the brand’s great potential.’

Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, commented:

‘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.’

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