Northumberland drinks companies join forces

From left, Keith Stephenson, Chris Walwyn-James and Ian Robinson, of Harry Hotspur Holdings, with Lindsay Hackett of Lindisfarne Ltd.
From left, Keith Stephenson, Chris Walwyn-James and Ian Robinson, of Harry Hotspur Holdings, with Lindsay Hackett of Lindisfarne Ltd.

Three of north Northumberland’s leading drinks companies – the producers of the iconic Lindisfarne Mead, Alnwick Rum and Alnwick Brewery’s beer brands – have teamed up in a move that will strengthen the region’s growing reputation in the industry.

Harry Hotspur Holdings, the parent company of the Alnwick-based brands, has acquired a major shareholding in Lindisfarne Limited, whose products, manufactured exclusively on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast, are now exported to Europe, the USA and other countries.Keith Stephenson, Ian Robinson and Christopher Walwyn-James, directors of Harry Hotspur Holdings, will be working closely with members of the Hackett family, who have run Lindisfarne Ltd since 1962.

The Lindisfarne Winery attracts around 250,000 visitors from around the world every year and its 11-strong team produces 75,000 bottles of mead annually as well as a range of liqueurs, fruit wines and confectionery. Future plans for the company include looking at the development of new products, the winery, craft shop and warehousing space.

The late J Michael Hackett realised a dream when he started the business more than 50 years ago. With his wife Elizabeth, he moved to the island before there was even a proper causeway linking it to the mainland.

Elizabeth was responsible for opening the craft shop and, in later years, the couple’s son Lindsay and his wife Brenda as well as his son-in-law Ronnie Tait, joined the company.

“My late husband was a dynamic and charismatic man who had the foresight to use the link between mead, monks and the fantastic tourist location of Lindisfarne to create and build a company now recognised in many parts of the world,” said Elizabeth Hackett. “We are delighted that this partnership will bring recognised Northumbrian products under the same umbrella and that our family involvement will continue.”

The Alnwick Brewery Company has established a strong reputation for its growing range of eight traditional Alnwick beers, including Amber, Brown Ale, IPA and Scotch Ale. It has plans to restore brewing to the historic town of Alnwick in a development that will also include dining facilities and a shop promoting the best of the region’s food and drink.

“We were delighted to be approached to become shareholders of Lindisfarne Ltd,” said Mr Walwyn-James. “We are looking forward to working with the Hackett family and the team that has created an iconic company with a fantastic range of products and a world-wide reputation.

“Alnwick Rum, now in its centenary year, was successfully reintroduced to the market in 2003 and has been sold in the Lindisfarne Winery for some time now. We also recently introduced a blended rum liqueur, Percy Warmer, with the help of Lindisfarne Ltd. Our companies are an excellent fit.”

Lindsay Hackett, who is retiring after 43 years in the business, with 36 of those at the helm of the company, said: “There is no doubt that, with this combination of expertise and experience, Lindisfarne Ltd can further build upon its success and move forward with confidence.”