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Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards honours industry’s finest

28 October 2013

The finest talent in the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry gathered in Inverness on Friday (25th October) to celebrate this year’s Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards. 

It was a nail-biting finale as 41 businesses awaited the announcement of the winners of 12 awards, with victorious businesses ranging from breweries, bakeries, restaurants and retailers to producers of premium Scottish seafood, salt and cheese.

Gilpin Bradley of Wester Ross Salmon was given the top honour of the evening as he was presented with the Ambassador of the Year Award for his contribution to the industry.  And Gigha Seafood walked away with the Excellence Award for demonstrating outstanding achievement.

Other winners of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2013, sponsored by Gordon & MacPhail and HIE, included Caithness-based business Berry Good’s Vodka and Gin Infusions for Best Drink Award; Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for Best Marketing Initiative Award; Island Bakery Organics on the Isle of Mull for the Environment Award; Alness-based Aquascot for Entrepreneur Business 2013 and the company’s ‘Easy to Cook Range’ won the Healthier Food & Drink Award; 40 North for Independent Food & Drink Retailer Award and Hebridean Sea Salt for New Business Award, both based on the Isle of Lewis; Gigha Seafood’s Smoked Gigha Halibut for New Product Award; Restaurant of the Year was Ninth Wave Restaurant on the Isle of Mull and Eilean Dubh in Fortrose picked up the Best Eatery Award.  Finally the joint winners of the Young Shining Star Award were Carlyn Kearney of Frankie’s Fish & Chip Shop, Café and Take Away in Brae, Shetland and Seb Jones of Speyside Craft Brewery in Forres.

Nearly 300 representatives from the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry packed out the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.  The evening was compered by popular presenter and comedian Fred MacAulay, while Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment was also in attendance.

Gilpin Bradley, Ambassador of the Year said of his Award:  “What an amazing honour. I am proud to have been associated with this industry for at least 25 years, and to have worked with so many innovative and inspiring people – many of whom were attending the Awards ceremony; in particular I’m proud to be a small part of Scotland’s largest food export, Scottish Salmon.  In 2012 exports of Scottish Salmon were four times greater than red meat. Currently Scottish Salmon is exported to over 60 countries worldwide, and I always enjoy a warm reception from new customers, who are often keen to learn about the fine food and drink available in the Highlands. 

“It’s a real pleasure for me to have witnessed first-hand the current talent within the sector throughout the Highlands and Islands.  These people and businesses are at the heart of a dynamic industry that is key to the future growth and prosperity of the region, and will be the backbone of many vibrant comities, often in rural and remote areas.  I am most grateful to our dedicated team at Wester Ross whose passion and commitment to the salmon they grow is always appreciated by our customers.”

The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, organised by the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), are the region’s most prestigious food and drink awards, celebrating excellence and achievement in the industry, and recognising industry players at the top of their game.

HIE is a longstanding supporter of the awards, viewing them as an essential feature of the industry. Chris Taylor, HIE’s head of food, drink and tourism, said: “HIE is delighted to support this event which showcases the excellence and achievements of the food and drink sector across our region.

“We work all year round to help ambitious businesses, with delicious produce, to develop new ranges and reach new markets. The winners here tonight provide a taste of why our island and mainland businesses are helping grow the reputation of the Highlands and Islands' natural larder across the world.”

Stephen Rankin, Director of UK Sales at Gordon & MacPhail and Chair of the Awards’ judging panel commented:  “This region can be proud of its contribution to Scotland’s food and drink industry. As title sponsor of these Awards, we are delighted to be involved in a process which provides a catalyst for more producers and businesses to shout about their products and showcase the outstanding quality of the produce on offer from this part of the world.

“The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards play an extremely important role in helping highlight to the wider industry that we are home to some of the most innovative businesses in the food and drink sector.”

Nearly 300 representatives from the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry packed out the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness.  The evening was compered by popular presenter and comedian Fred MacAulay, while Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment was also in attendance. 

The dinner featured a mouth-watering menu including food from top regional producers and suppliers: Gordon & MacPhail, Gigha Seafood, Highland Fine Cheeses, Isle of Mull Cheese, Reids of Caithness, Maclean’s Highland Bakery, Strathconon Highland Organix and Swansons Fruit Company.   And with music provided by the Cairn String Quartet who performed a variety of genres of music on classical instruments, the event combined all the necessary ingredients for an inspiring and memorable evening’s entertainment.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The wonderful natural environment of the Highlands and Islands produces the superb raw materials that go into many of Scotland’s iconic products. At a time when Scotland’s food and drink is craved at home and abroad, it is an excellent time to be rewarding companies for their high quality, top class produce.

“These are local firms that supply to the world, highlighting the region’s role in Scotland’s food and drink success. The industry has set ambitious new goals for 2017 - to reach £16.5 billion turnover and £7.1 billion exports – and I’m confident these will be achieved with the help of companies in the Highlands and Islands.”

For more information about the Awards and winners visit

  • Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards - Results

    Ambassador of the Year:  
    GILPIN BRADLEY, Wester Ross Salmon

    Excellence Award:  
    GIGHA SEAFOOD, Isle of Gigha

    Young Shining Star Award:
    Highly Commended: ANGUS MACLEOD, KINGSMILLS HOTEL, Inverness
    Highly Commended: MICHAEL SCOTT, MIKE’S FILLING STATION, Invergordon

    Best Drink Award:
    BERRY GOOD, Watten, Caithness – VODKA & GIN INFUSIONS
    Highly Commended:  CAIRNGORM BREWERY, Aviemore – BLACK GOLD

    Best Marketing Award: 
    Highly Commended:  SPEYSIDE CRAFT BREWERY, Forres

    Environment Award:

    Healthier Food and Drink Award: 

    Entrepreneur Business 2013: 
    AQUASCOT, Alness

    Independent Food and Drink Retailer of the Year Award: 
    40 NORTH, Isle of Lewis
    Highly Commended:  THE STOREHOUSE, Evanton, Ross-shire

    New Business Award: 
    HEBRIDEAN SEA SALT, Isle of Lewis
    Highly Commended: THE CHEESE HOUSE, Cromarty

    New Product Award:
    Highly commended: HEBRIDEAN SEA SALT, Isle of Lewis – HEBRIDEAN SEA SALT

    Best Eatery Award: 
    EILEAN DUBH, Fortrose
    Highly Commended: FRANKIE’S FISH & CHIPS, CAFÉ & TAKEAWAY, Brae, Shetland

    Restaurant of the Year Award: 
    NINTH WAVE RESTAURANT, Fionnphort, Isle of Mull
    Highly Commended: BOATH HOUSE, Auldearn, Near Nairn


  •  Now in their ninth 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, sponsors this year include Ace Refrigeration, Cairngorms National Park, J&D Cowper Ltd, Johnston Carmichael, North Highland Initiative, Polaris Learning Ltd, TIO Ltd, SAC/SRUC/(Think Local), Scotland Food & Drink, The Aberdeen University Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, The Storehouse. The media sponsor is Scottish Provincial Press.
  • Title sponsor Gordon & MacPhail is an independent, family-owned Scotch whisky specialist which has been based in Elgin, Moray, since 1895. Four generations of the Urquhart family have continued the tradition of seeking out the best and rarest Scotch whiskies. 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.

    Now one of the world’s leading malt whisky specialists, Gordon & MacPhail exports to more than 55 countries and offers more than 300 presentations of own-bottled single malts. In 2009, Gordon & MacPhail was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.

    In 1993. Gordon & MacPhail purchased Benromach Distillery and re-equipped it before it was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles in 1998.

    Gordon & MacPhail is also one of the UK's leading independent specialist wholesalers and distributors, stocking over 4,500 products, including an extensive portfolio of wines, spirits and UK specialist beers and ciders.



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