A NEW brewery, a load of new products and ambitious global export plans are on the agenda for Alnwick Rum after two new partners joined the business.
Ian Linsley, who revived Alnwick Rum in 2003 and also produces real ale, has been joined in the business by Chris Walwyn-James and David Ainsley.
The trio created new operating company Spirit of Northumberland, pulling together the Alnwick Brewery Company and Alnwick Rum Company Ltd.
A new holding company, Harry Hotspur Holdings, will manage the traditional recipes, trademarks and intellectual property of the business.
Linsley’s father was the managing director and chairman of Alnwick Brewery until its closure in 1986 and the original recipes were found among his papers after his death in 2001.
Linsley said: “The story and history is fascinating. I’m lucky enough to be part of a team that can now take this much further than just me.
“Chris and David are so passionate about the product and its history. They have been in the North East for a number of years, they chose to live here because they have such a passion for the area.”
The new partners are bringing both investment and business experience to the company, which is now poised for a major growth.
Linsley said: “It was a case of survival for me in tough times. I didn’t have the ear of the bank and what was frustrating for me was that I couldn’t expand. The plan is to take the products we have and massively expand, not only nationally but globally.”
The business is looking at opportunities to export to Italy and Japan and has been contacted by a number of businesses worldwide via the Linked In business networking site.
Linsley is currently viewing several sites to open a “destination brewery” in Alnwick, complete with a restaurant, which would be the first in the town since the mid-1980s.
More immediately, two new ales launch on March 9, in addition to Alnwick IPA, and Linsley is keen to hear from pubs interested in stocking them.
Linsley said: “There’s Fair Comment, a blonde-style ale, and we are bringing back a Scotch – Hotspur Scotch. We have the old recipe for Hotspur Ale.”
And there will be a new rum called Bosun’s Reserve in September to accompany Alnwick Rum, which was launched nine years ago by the Duchess of Northumberland in the Alnwick Garden.
“It’s a 12-year-old rum and it’s very, very advanced. It’s going to be very distinct,” said Linsley.
“This will be a quality rum. It has its basis and roots in Alnwick 92 Deluxe Rum.”
He is keen to explore the US market with the new spirit and to look at opportunities to sell to the US Navy. The free tot of rum for Royal Navy sailors stopped in 1970s, but Linsley has lined up someone who remembers it well as the public face of the company.
“Our new chairman is likely to be Vice-Admiral of the Royal Navy, Rory McLean. He will be chairman of Harry Hotspur Holdings,” he said.
“He was a Rum Bosun. And one his jobs was being responsible for handing out the tots of rum.”
Linsley has now carved out a career doing “all I ever wanted to do”.
He said: “I worked at the brewery from the age of 12, I used to work all of my school holidays. Oft times, I used to bunk off school. They always knew where to find me.
“I would die for what I do, I’m so passionate about it. That’s why I’m so pleased to have found Chris and David.”
Alex Shiel, partner and head of intellectual property at law firm Ward Hadaway advised on the new partnership agreement.
He said: “We are delighted to have helped Ian to set out on what looks like an exciting new era for the business.
"He has a real passion for the work which he does and the products which he makes so it is very rewarding to be able to assist in the development of the business.
"Hopefully with the new structures in place, Ian and his new business partners will be able to take Alnwick Rum and Alnwick IPA on to a new level.”