Islay brewery doubles sales after grant boost

Donald Mackenzie (left) and Mackay Smith have wholly owned Islay Ales since last year. Picture: Contributed
Donald Mackenzie (left) and Mackay Smith have wholly owned Islay Ales since last year. Picture: Contributed
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An Islay brewer has doubled its turnover and rebranded after being given funding and specialist support by Business Gateway.

Traditional four-barrel brewery Islay Ales has recorded a surge in revenues following the receipt of a training and growth grant, which has helped the business revamp its offering – introducing a lager, developing new recipes and rolling out a fresh brand.

The business has also installed a taproom at its brewery and is planning a move to larger, bespoke premises to streamline its brewing process and accommodate future growth.
Its products are now sold in all bars and hotels in Islay.

Entrepreneurs Mackay Smith and Donald MacKenzie, who also run whisky company The Islay Boys, have wholly owned the brewery since July 2018.

Smith 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.

“Since introducing the new brand, we have increased our customer base, and boast much broader appeal across a range of demographics. This has directly contributed to our increased turnover.”

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Donald Melville, Business Gateway adviser, Argyll and Bute, added: “Food and drink is a crucial industry that supports the economy of Argyll and Bute and it’s excellent to see Islay Ales benefit from Business Gateway support, providing a vital contribution to the wider growth of the sector.

“Business Gateway offers a variety of tools to unlock growth for businesses across all sectors including access to grant funding through the Business Local Growth Accelerator programme, alongside specialist advice and the support offered by all our advisers.”