The Islay Boys is a newish independent bottler of whisky and more recently a brewer of beers. I remember this brand appearing a couple of years ago and then at least online things have been a little quiet. I picked up the blended and malt blend recently cheaply at auction mostly just for this blog because unique content is the best content.
As luck would have it the company based on Islay have been releasing a few press statements this last week. It turns out the company has been busy for the last couple of years growing a customer base and selling extensively their whisky and beer products and now need new larger premises. Judging from the lack of UK based media attention I think most of the sales are exported to the continent and certainly the instagram activity shows marketing spend is almost entirely at events on mainland Europe. Regardless, you can now invest in The Islay Boys new distilling enterprise with a single investment of £10,000. This gets you £3000 in shares in the business and £7000 for a cask of Whisky/Rum.
Rum because they intend to be the first distillery on Islay to produce Rum from a site near the airport. I think this is an interesting development and evidently shows that the next big growth market looks increasingly to be Rum with Gin being somewhat over saturated and done. Indeed ex-Bruichladdich owner Mark Reynier is opening his own Rum distillery in Grenada which is an incredibly ambitious plan which warrants its own article someday.
This then seems to be a well practised business model for an independent company. Bottling whisky and producing fast to market products like craft ale to generate cash flow. Distilling spirit with the profits alongside a bit of crowd funding and cask ownership. The man hours and complexity of cask ownership propositions means this is becoming rarer in the market I have noticed. Indeed Arran’s new peated distillery offering was much more expensive than I expected when the price list came out and Kilchoman has stopped selling casks of white spirit to anyone.
I am already deep into this article but haven’t mentioned much about the company itself. Very little is published about the company owned by friends Donald MacKenzie and Mackay Smith. Both born on Islay and evidently enthusiastic about whisky and skilled business people they setup a company together called The Islay Boys.
A name which makes sense and is youthful and vibrant as a brand which is memorable and distinctive. The branding of their products though to me is a juxtaposition to that company name. The products are all based on Viking Kings who ruled over the islands and Ireland in the 9th century and makes up a small part of the tourist scene on the Island. The blended product are named FlatNose after Ketill Björnsson, nicknamed Flatnose and the single malts are named Barelegs after Magnus Olafsson, nicknamed Barelegs. The problem is though that Highland Park got there first and Edrington is ringing every last nickle and dime out of the marketing.
Regardless, everything seems to be going well for the company and the future looks bright is such exciting developments on the horizon. I hope they do well and as we will see in the next article the quality of the whisky which started the company, the FlatNose series is very very good.