It had been a long time coming, but we finally released Hoolie (our rather smooth Manx rum) at the end of last year. After playing around with our Hedge Fund and Honey Bun small batches, we now have a great drink that we can produce at volume to serve the Island and further afield. Disclaimer: we’re talking ‘small craft distillery’ volume.
I think we can all agree it was a strange year. The lockdown first three months of 2021 all but ground our momentum to a halt and, if truth be told, it took a good while for us to get our heads back together. We didn’t want to just twiddle our thumbs so we concocted the Outlier Manx Cup of Pubs & Bars, which ended up with a fantastic heads up between Quids Inn and The Ginger Hall, both great supporters of the local music scene. Those two publicans - Andy Saunders and Ben Sowrey – are just two of the passionate and charismatic folks we’re lucky enough to have working in the Island’s hospitality industry. It’s an industry which is under great strain at the moment so do what you can to give your support.
After the Covid shutters were raised last April, we finally got round to launching Honey Bun, our Manx honey liqueur: think a grown-up, excitable cousin many-times-removed of Pimms. Honey Bun was really well received as a great summer drink. We loved the artwork by Cup of Layna (aka Karolina) – and we’ve taken great pride in working with different local artists. We have officially sold out of that first batch but we’re looking to resurrect that going in ’22. Quite possibly with a new and improved twist.
Then Hoolie hit the shelves in November. We released a video of us making a Hoolie and Coke on the side of Snaefell, next to the brilliant Victory Cafe. The wind made it painfully cold in our Hawaiian shirts. It seemed a good idea at the time… If you haven’t seen then click here.
Our Hoolie label is bordering on the narcissistic, but in our defence we've been opting to work in a collaborative way with artists so it's not outright us just laying down a brief. "Paint our faces!" The brilliant Stedhead Meg took the helm for this one, juggling the back and forth while growing increasingly pregnant.
Some lessons learned
We’ve tried to share some of the Outlier journey as we go, but here’s a few things we’ve learned that didn’t get slung onto Facebook.
1. O-rings are really important: You know those little rubber seals that you sometimes find on the end of a pipe? It turns out that they’re really important. We took delivery of our 160-litre pot still in the summer of 2020. The IOM was out of lockdown - but most of the world wasn’t. So without the usual handholding service during assembly there was much head scratching due to one missing O-ring.
2. You can almost always make things fit: Getting a large still into an old milking shed isn’t easy. Old narrow doors may have been fine to herd cows into, but huge copper pots less so. Thankfully, a crowbar to a doorframe can work wonders.
3. Everything takes longer than you think: And we don’t just mean aging spirits in barrels. Whether it’s a big multi-stage project or a ‘quick’ clean out of the yard things always take at least twice as long as expected. Often moving into multiples thereof. This is not totally unrelated to the following point…
4. If you’re doing one thing then you’re not doing something else: Apparently this is called ‘opportunity cost’, i.e. the choice to do one thing is at the expense of doing another. This should be obvious. It’s not.
5. There’s way more admin than you think: There’s a whole lot of form filling when you’re setting up a company. It turns out that’s just the beginning. So. Much. Admin.
A massive thanks to all of you that have bought a bottle, ordered a drink at a bar or attended one of our events. Another big thanks to everyone in the Island’s bar trade who has supported us. But, most of all, a huge thanks to our long-suffering wives who frequently pitch in to help when we’re spinning in circles and have to roll their eyes when we come up with a ‘great idea’ that they first suggested some weeks before.
If you're skipping Dry January (or simply looking ahead to it passing) and fancy trying out some Hoolie, then click that button below. Or if you just want to sign up to the Outlier Newsletter then click that button. You'll get a heads up from us on small batches, special offers and occasional rambling updates. Whart's not to like?