Beer and rum business raises toast to new era

Spirit Of Northumberland - Christopher Walwyn-James, Ian Linsley and David Ainsley.
Spirit Of Northumberland - Christopher Walwyn-James, Ian Linsley and David Ainsley.
Share this article

It’s all change at the top of a company that offers iconic rum and beers as they look to further develop their product lines.

In August 2011, we reported that Alnwick IPA, which was first brewed in the 1850s and had been available again in bottled form for the past four years, was returning as a cask ale.

And on the back of the Gazette report, in January 2012, operating company Spirit of Northumberland Ltd was formed as Ian Linsley, the owner of Alnwick Brewery and Alnwick Rum, was joined by Chris Walwyn-James and David Ainsley to push the firm forward.

New beers followed including Alnwick Brown Ale, Fair Comment and Hotspur Scotch Ale, based on a very old Edinburgh recipe, first used by the original Alnwick Brewery in the form of Hotspur Export.

But now, Ian Linsley has decided to step back from the day-to-day operations, explaining that he found it difficult working as part of a team.

“I thought it was best to ask the guys what they wanted to do and they said they wanted to move forward at a pace,” he told the Gazette.

“The best thing was to come to an agreement where I would still have an interest, but be more of a spectator and free to pursue other avenues.

“The plan is now in place and everyone’s very happy. I will be involved with the companies until the day I die, but everything else will be taken on by David and the others.

“I’m pleased that the products I had when I joined David and Chris were high-quality and I’m proud that it will always continue like that.”

The ‘others’ include three new people, who have formed a new board of directors, which held its first meeting recently at Doxford Hall.

David and Chris have been joined by David’s son Hamish, Ian Robinson, from Newcastle, and Keith Stephenson, a Sunderland man, who worked for 25 years at the top of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Hong Kong, who has taken on the role of chairman.

And looking to the future, David said that there are plenty of exciting developments.

The first batch of bottled Alnwick Brown Ale has been received and alongside Alnwick Gold, which is being developed now, will give the company a range of four bottled beers, which can be sold in gift packs.

On the Alnwick Rum side, as well as the standard 70cl bottles, they are now producing miniatures, the first batch of which has been sold with more having recently arrived.

Plus, the firm is looking to develop chocolates using Alnwick Rum, expanding the range away from drinks alone.

For more on the Brewery and Alnwick Rum, visit