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Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2014 – Shortlisted finalists announced

24 June 2014

Finalists demonstrate a healthy and innovative industry throughout the region

Food and drink businesses around the Highlands & Islands and Cairngorms National Park area have finally discovered whether they’ve made it to the next stage of the industry’s most prestigious awards as organisers of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards (HIFDA) have announced the 41 shortlisted finalists.

Over the past few months, the 14 judges have read their way through dozens of written submissions, sampled a variety of the best of Scottish produce ranging from buffalo, goat and salmon, salad dressings, biscuits and cheese to ice creams, cordials, whiskies and craft beers, and deliberated their conclusions at length until the winning businesses were agreed upon. 

Shortlisted businesses for the 12 awards come from all corners of the region from Keith to Kiltarlity, from Shetland to Skye, from Forres to Fort William and from Dalwhinnine to Dornoch and Dunoon - a promising sign for the continuing breadth of talent in the industry. 

This year the judging panel was chaired by Stephen Rankin, director of UK Sales at the Awards’ headline sponsor Gordon & MacPhail.  The judges comprised experienced individuals from all sectors of the food and drink industry, including Head Chef Charlie Lockley of the Michelin starred Boath House near Nairn and representatives from industry organisation Scotland Food & Drink and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Chair Stephen Rankin commented:  “It was a genuine pleasure to chair the judging panel again.  The expertise, integrity and professional approach of the judges was outstanding and the diversity and extremely high quality of submissions was an on-going reminder of the imagination, passion and skill which is prevalent throughout the industry.

“I would like to thank the many companies and individuals who entered the Awards and congratulate them on their submissions.  As HIFDA grows in stature, more and more companies are keen to gain the recognition an award brings.  This obviously makes the judging process more challenging; but it really does signify that being shortlisted for an award is truly a fantastic accolade. 

“It was fantastic to review such a diverse range of entries from a brilliant blend of well-established companies to youngsters and new businesses just starting out in the industry.  The latter group’s bravery and willingness to take on responsibility has to be admired and recognised.

“Because of the high level of entries this year, I would like to highlight that top level feedback is available for those who have been unsuccessful in their submission, and I would urge these businesses to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

“I’d like to wish good luck to all the shortlisted finalists and I hope to see them all at the Awards Dinner and Ceremony in October.”

Charlie Lockley was a first-time member of the judging panel this year.  "I was honoured to be asked to be a judge this year." he said.  "I didn't really know what to expect or what was expected of me, but I found the process and the experience 'behind closed doors' a real eye-opener and an informative learning curve. 

"In summary, I can confirm that a judges' job is a pretty tough one - but definitely enjoyable and inspirational!  The high number of quality entries lead to a lot of debate amongst the judges before finalists and winners could be decided on.  This was particularly the case when it came to sampling the products for the Best Drink and New Product Awards - the variety and quality of the products entered this year shows how creative and knowledgeable the food and drink industry is through the region.

"It was a highlight for me to learn about the great work which is going on in the area’s restaurant scene - much of which goes unrecognised.  These people, who are are so passionate and enthusiastic about what they are doing, put such extraordinary effort into running excellent restaurants and getting their names out there.  I can't wait to go and visit them for myself and to see (and taste) the results of their hard work first-hand."

The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards complement the work of the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Forum and are supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  They celebrate excellence and achievement in the industry and recognise industry players at the top of their game. 

Crystal Mackay, HIE’s Development Manager for Food & Drink said:  “HIE is extremely pleased to see such a high level and quality of entries received from across the region for the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards.  Our fantastic natural larder is a key strength for the region and growing the food and drink sector is a priority for the agency.  We welcome and thank all the dedicated companies across the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area who entered and we wish all the shortlisted companies the best of luck in the forthcoming awards.”

Shortlisted finalists have been announced in 12 categories including Best Drink, Export, Independent Food & Drink Retailer, New Product and Restaurant of the Year.  The winners of two additional categories not open for general entry, namely Ambassador of the Year and the Judges’ Award, will be made at the discretion of the judges and revealed at the Awards Ceremony. 

The winners of all the awards will be announced at the Awards Dinner and Ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness on Friday, 24th October.  The event attracts around 300 representatives from the region’s top food and drink businesses who gather annually to celebrate all that is best in the industry in the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area.

The evening’s proceedings will be hosted by popular presenter and comedian Fred MacAulay – back by popular demand!  Tickets cost £75 +VAT and can be purchased online at


BEST DRINK AWARD: Sponsored by JBT Distribution & Parcelinq
Ben Nevis Distillery, Fort William – Single Cask Matured in Port Wood 10 Years Old; Single Cask Matured in Port Wood 21 Years Old
Cairngorm Brewery, Aviemore – Range of 12 bottled beers
Highland Cordials, Kiltarlity - Raspberry & Mint, Nettle & Ginger, Elderberry
Lerwick Brewery, Shetland – 60° North
Loch Ness Brewery, Drumnadrochit – Range of 6 bottled beers
Tomintoul Distillery, Glenlivet – Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky aged 12 years @ 40%; 10 Year Old ‘Old Ballantruan’ Speyside Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky @ 50%

BEST MARKETING INITATIVE AWARD: Sponsored by Cairngorms National Park Authority
Dalwhinnine Distillery, Dalwhinnie
Good Highland Food, Moy, Inverness-shire
The Scottish Salmon Company, Isle of Lewis

Isle of Eriska Hotel and Restaurant
Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company, Isle of Skye
Ninth Wave Restaurant, Isle of Mull

HEALTHIER FOOD & DRINK AWARD: Sponsored by The University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health
Buth Bheag, Kyle of Lochalsh
Loch Duart Ltd, Lairg
The Scottish Goat Meat Company, Keith

EXPORT AWARD: Sponsored by Norbert Dentressangle
Brewmeister Brewery, Keith
FAO27, Avoch
Loch Duart Ltd, Lairg
MacLean’s Highland Bakery, Forres
The Scottish Salmon Company, Isle of Lewis

FOOD & DRINK BUSINESS GROWTH 2014: Sponsored by Johnston Carmichael
Brewmeister Brewery, Keith
FAO27, Avoch
The Island Smokery, Orkney

Allarburn Farm Shop, Elgin
Buth Bheag, Kyle of Lochalsh
Skye Farm Shop, Isle of Skye

NEW BUSINESS AWARD: Sponsored by Bank of Scotland
Black Isle Dairy, Daviot
Mr C’s Bar, Thurso
Orkney Buffalo, Orkney
Skye Farm Shop, Isle of Skye
West Coast Delicatessen, Ullapool

NEW PRODUCT AWARD:  Sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink
Black Isle Dairy, Daviot – Dairy Ice Cream Range
Coast & Glen, Inverness – Coast & Glen Fishbox
Saladworx Ltd, Dornoch – Special edition Homecoming Scotland 2014 Whisky & Thistle dressing/marinade/dip
Shetland Cheese Ltd, Shetland – St Ninian’s Soft Cheese
The Argyll Smokery, Dunoon – Kiln Roasted Smoked Trout
Tomintoul Distillery, Glenlivet – Tomintoul Tri-pack featuring one 5cl bottle or Tomintoul 10, 16 & 25 years

BEST EATERY AWARD: Sponsored by Swansons Fruit Company & Nessgro
Bandstand Bar & Restaurant, Nairn
Eilean Dubh, Fortrose
Frankie’s Fish & Chip Shop, Café & Take Away, Shetland
The Bothy, Burghead
The Pier Café, Lairg

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR AWARD: Sponsored by Think Local
Corrour Station House Restaurant, Fort William
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Isle of Eriska
Kylesku Hotel, Kylesku
Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Cairndow, Argyll
The Lovat Loch Ness, Fort Augustus

YOUNG SHINING STAR AWARD: Sponsored by Ecosse Professional Services Ltd
Anne Body, Annie’s Bakery, Wick
Tammy Rendall, Associated Seafoods Ltd, Buckie

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR AWARD: Sponsored by North Highland Initiative
Award to be announced at the Awards ceremony

JUDGES’ AWARD: Sponsored by Gordon & MacPhail
Award to be announced at the Awards ceremony

  • Further information at  The awards are open to businesses in the Highlands and Islands and within the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Now in their 10th year, the Awards complement the work of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum by encouraging food and drink businesses to be innovative, forward thinking and collaborative and by celebrating excellence and achievement. 
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise is an Awards Partner and, in addition to title sponsor Gordon & MacPhail, category sponsors this year include Bank of Scotland, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Ecosse Professional Services Ltd,  JBT Distribution & Parcelinq,  Johnston Carmichael, Norbert Dentressangle, North Highland Initiative, Scotland Food & Drink, Swansons Fruit Company & Nessgro, TIO Ltd, Think Local, University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. The media sponsor is Scottish Provincial Press.
  • About Title Sponsor Gordon & MacPhail:  The family owned and managed firm of Gordon & MacPhail is located in Elgin, Scotland. The iconic retail shop on South Street still thrives today on the site where the business began in 1895. Since those early days the company has grown significantly and has business interests as a bottler, exporter, distiller and wholesaler.

    As a wholesaler: Gordon & MacPhail is one of the UK's leading independent specialist wholesalers and distributors, stocking over 4,000 products, including an extensive portfolio of wines, spirits and UK specialist beers and ciders.

    As a bottler and exporter: Since its foundation, Gordon & MacPhail’s policy has been to send casks to distilleries throughout Scotland, fill them with “new make” spirit and mature them either at the distillery of origin or in the firm’s own bonded warehouses in Elgin.

    The World’s Leading Malt Whisky Specialist, Gordon & MacPhail bottles more than 300 expressions of Single Malt Whisky under various ranges – selling them throughout the UK and exporting to more than 50 countries worldwide. In 2009 and 2013 the company won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade. 

    As a distiller: Gordon & MacPhail owns Benromach Distillery. Located on the outskirts of Forres, Benromach is Speyside’s smallest working distillery, employing just three distillers. Established in 1898, the distillery went through many changes of ownership and closures before being “rescued” by Gordon & MacPhail, who purchased it in 1993. The distillery was extensively re-equipped over a five year period before it was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.


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