A highly-regarded and well known specialist rum blender from Alnwick has died, aged 58.
Ian Linsley passed away on Saturday, August 18, after a short, courageous fight against osophageal cancer.
Tributes have been paid to the man who forged a prestigious reputation in the drinks industry, in which he has been described as inspirational.
Ian grew up in Alnwick, but left the region for many years before returning to revive the Alnwick Rum Company in 2003, a business his father worked in for many years from the late 1950s.
He also managed to resurrect Alnwick IPA from the history books.
In 2012, he teamed up with business partners Chris Walwyn-James and David Ainsley, to set up a new operating company, Spirit of Northumberland, to encompass Ian’s core firms, Alnwick Brewery Company Ltd and Alnwick Rum Company Ltd, as well as setting up a holding company, Harry Hotspur Holdings, to manage the traditional recipes, trademarks and intellectual property of the business.
A few years ago, Ian formed The Old Man Rum Co to produce the drink Expressions, based on knowledge passed down from his father.
On Facebook, The Old Man Rum Co posted a tribute to its founder. The message read: ‘Ian was an inspirational character who lived life to the full and relentlessly pursued excellence.’
Meanwhile, Alnwick’s Taste of Northumbria shop, which stocks Alnwick Rum, posted on Facebook: ‘Ian was our global Alnwick Rum Ambassador and had it not been for his passion and drive, there would be no such business now.
‘He single-handedly resurrected the brand and helped Harry Hotspur Holdings acquire and take the business to where it is today.
‘Just three weeks ago, he was trying to connect us to contacts in Asia such was his drive for the business.
‘We will always remember him. We send our condolences to his family.’
Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “Ian was an amazing character – he was a huge support to us in the early days of the Alnwick Food Festival and forged good links and friendships with fellow exhibitors, chefs and the organisers from Alnwick Lions.
“He was generous, yet extremely ambitious and certainly knew his trade.
“Those days will live long in my memory and Ian’s part in creating a lasting celebration of local food and drink should never be underestimated.”
A Go Fund Me internet page set up to help pay funeral costs and give Ian a good send-off has been inundated with donations and messages of sympathy and tribute.
In just eight days, 99 people had donated £4,335, surpassing the target of £4,000.
A message on the page says: ‘Every penny dad had went towards his business – he was a man of little possessions and used all of the money he had to create a legacy of rum in his father’s name.
‘With that being said and the rapidness of this disease he had no time to plan for the end.’
Ian’s funeral will take place tomorrow (Friday), with family and close friends invited to Cowpen Crematorium at 10.45am, followed by a celebration of Ian’s life at St Michael’s Church, Alnwick, at 12.30pm, to which all are welcome.