It’s fair to say that when arriving at this year’s RumFest in London last month, Team Outlier felt a *lot* of imposter syndrome. Here we were fresh off the ferry and among some of the biggest and best rum producers in the world. ‘We’ being two blokes making rum in an old milking shed on a farm in the northern reaches of the Isle of Man.
We believed that we’d made some good rum in Hoolie and Hurricane, but that's obviously one thing when you’re presenting to people on-island in a small, welcoming community. It’s another entirely when you’re putting your creations in front of a large, dedicated horde of rum fans who are also tasting great liquids from 40-odd other exhibitors in the same room.
Would people like us (and by that I *mostly* mean Hoolie and Hurricane)? Would our self-made pallet bar look amateurish and out of place? Would the big boys bully us? Would we have to leave with our tails between our legs wondering why we’d spent the last two years of our lives doing this?
Two blokes from a shed bracing themselves
Positioned at the back of the exhibition space, it’s fair to say that things were pretty quiet for the first somewhat-concerning 15 minutes when the doors opened. A few nervous glances were shared between Ian and myself. Then a few things happened.
First, we met Steve the Barman, a rum YouTuber, who really liked Hoolie, Hurricane and our general schtick. He’s a lovely, effervescent chap who loves his rum and puts out some excellent and accessible videos, such as this lesson in how to make three simple rum cocktails. That certainly set our nerves at ease, then a fella who said he’d been drinking rum since he was 16 came over looking very suspicious.
“You’re from the Isle of Man?” [still looking suspicious]
Yep. We import molasses and then ferment and distil on site using water from the farm’s well.
“Fair play.” [more surprised than suspicious – we weren’t just blending]
Here, try some Hoolie.
“That’s pretty good.” [now pleasantly surprised and somewhat more receptive]
And try some Hurricane.
“Damn! That’s real good.” [now totally surprised, somewhat mindblown]
He then spent the next couple of hours bringing people over to our Outlier stand.
Hoolie daq converts at RumFest
And it turns out this wasn’t an isolated reaction. Everyone at RumFest was bloody lovely and both Hoolie and Hurricane, our new 64% overproof Manx rum, went down incredibly well. Taking people through the journey of neat Hoolie, the simple serve of Hoolie & Ginger, a Hoolie daq, then a Manx daq (Hoolie daq with a splash of Hurricane), before finishing with a nip of neat Hurricane was a delight. We won over a lot of people that weekend and even bagged a few unofficial best-in-show picks. This obviously warmed our cockles as did the general welcome from an incredibly open and friendly rum family.
While we were knackered after the three days and the many hours of motorway driving, we did leave with a renewed confidence in what we’ve been doing. Both our simple serve of Hoolie & Ginger and our Manx daiquiri (50ml Hoolie, 7ml Hurricane, 25ml lime juice, 20ml simple syrup – shaken with ice) got a lot of thumbs up. As newbies, it really couldn't have gone better.
If you’d like to see of you agree with the RumFest crewe, you can get yourself a bottle of Hoolie or Hurricane if you click here! We deliver.
Roll on RumFest 2023!
Even managed to collar Mr RumFest himself (aka Ian Burrell)
You can find out more about RumFest by clicking here. It's a great event and we'd thoroughly recommend going next year. It takes place 14-15 October 2023 in Earl's Court.