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High hops for Islay brewery following support

Islay Ales approached Business Gateway for support as they embarked on the company’s first rebrand and the development of training workshops for their team.

About the business

Islay Ales, a traditional 4-barrel brewery based on the island of Islay, has doubled its turnover after being awarded a grant and receiving specialist support from local advisory service, Business Gateway.

Local entrepreneurs Mackay Smith and Donald MacKenzie approached Business Gateway for support as they embarked on the company’s first rebrand and the development of essential training workshops for their small team.

The duo, who also run the established whisky company, The Islay Boys Ltd, have wholly owned Islay Ales since July 2018.

Thanks to Business Gateway’s support, we are looking forward to increasing and diversifying our product range.

How Business Gateway has helped

Since working with Business Gateway, the business has completely revamped its product offering with the notable introduction of a lager, the development of new recipes and the roll-out of a fresh, contemporary brand for the 15-year-old company.

These steps have significantly increased the appeal and success of the brand, which is now sold in all bars and hotels in Islay. It is a popular choice for locals and tourists alike who can also purchase it on the ferry crossing.

The increased turnover, which has sparked the growth of the business, has resulted in the installation of a taproom at their brewery and Islay Ales is currently planning work on bigger, bespoke premises. This has created an opportunity for interested parties and investors to be part of the business’s future growth plans.

Mackay Smith, co-owner and head brewer of Islay Ales said, “While Islay Ales was well-known amongst its core customer base, we knew that the brand was due a refresh to increase its appeal and grow the business. This is where Business Gateway support was vital, as, following a strategic review, we applied for a training and growth grant. This allowed us to launch a contemporary new brand for Islay Ales that spoke to its heritage and position in the market as a premium ale.

Support provided

1:1 Business Support

Training and growth grant

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