The UK mainland’s most northerly gin distillery, Dunnet Bay, won the coveted chairwoman’s award at a prestigious annual awards ceremony.
Dunnet Bay’s Rock Rose gin was hailed as “something of an icon on the shelves”, while its Highland vodka and Freepost refillable pouches received plaudits as just two examples of its “drive for innovation”.
They exemplify what is great about our wonderful part of the world.”
Jane Cumming, branch chairwoman, SCDI
The latest edition of the Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards, hosted by the Scottish Council for Industry and Development and Industry (SCDI), took place online.
More than 200 guests logged on for the event, taking their places at “tables” on multiple virtual venue floors.
Innovative video conferencing technology allowed them to mingle during breaks and after the main proceedings from the comfort of their own homes.
Dunnet Bay’s triumph in the “chair’s” outstanding business achievement award category comes seven years after entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team Martin and Claire Murray launched the business.
Growing demand for its products and an increase in tourism in Caithness, driven by the popularity of the North Coast 500 road trip route, saw the firm announce a £248,000 expansion plan in 2017.
The project included the installation of another still, as well as the development of a visitor centre, shop and new warehouse.
Dunnet Bay’s products have won a raft of drink industry awards, with last night’s gong recognising the wider achievements of the business.
SCDI Highlands and Islands committee chairwoman Jane Cumming said: “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate success following such a difficult time for us all.”
“Rock Rose gin has become something of an icon on the shelves, with their striking ceramic bottles.
“I’ve been hugely impressed watching their progress – they are a company that is always moving forward.
“The introduction of Highland vodka and Freepost refillable pouches are just two examples of their drive for innovation.”
Ms Cumming added: “They exemplify what is great about our wonderful part of the world – their location is an asset, not an obstacle and they are flexible and innovative in their approach.
“This has put them at the forefront of gin production in a region more usually associated with Scotch whisky.”
Mr Murray said: “I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of our team at Dunnet Bay Distillers. We are a small, innovative team that are proud of what we do and where we do it.
“In seven quick years we’ve made incredible progress, and we are excited about our future projects and products.”
Other winners included salmon farmer Mowi, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Cullen Bay Hotel, Aquascot, Williamson Foodservice, Plastic@Bay, AES Solar, Mesomorphic and Kingsmill Hotel Group managing director Tony Story.
Impressionist Alister McGowan virtually presented the awards, with Scotland Office Minister giving a speech highlighting the importance of recognising good practice by business, in particular positive action on the environment.
Addressing SCDI members, Mr Duguid said: “We need to continue to work with organisations like SCDI to benefit and leverage your expertise and the relationships with businesses in our policy development.”
SCDI chief executive Sara Thiam said: “We are delighted to recognise the people who have kept the Highlands and Islands economy going through the hardest of years.
“Not only have many continued to provide much-needed products and services to communities, but many have also transformed their businesses for the better.
“The ability to work across public, private and third sectors marks SCDI members out and their commitment to people and planet will ensure they will continue to create prosperity in the Highlands and Islands for many years to come.”
- Chairwoman’s award for outstanding business achievement – Dunnet Bay Distillers.
- Outstanding business leader – Tony Story, Kingsmills Hotel Group.
- Excellence in international business – Mowi Scotland.
- Excellence in marine innovation and growing the blue economy – Scottish Association for Marine Science.
- Excellence in people development – Aquascot.
- Outstanding supporter of coastal communities – Cullen Bay Hotel.
- Excellence in natural capital, climate change and sustainable communities – Plastic@Bay.
- Highland spirit and resilience – Williamson Foodservice.
- Excellence in upskilling, reskilling and emerging leaders – AES Solar.
- SME of the year – Mesomorphic.