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Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

We celebrate some Local Legends in Scottish Food & Drink.

Published: 22nd September 2020

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, the two week celebration of Scotland’s food and drink producers organised by Scotland Food & Drink, helps firmly showcase the best of Scottish food and drink. Each year provides a new theme for participants to celebrate and for 2020 the theme was Local Legends.

It’s safe to say that 2020 will be remembered as a year like no other. With the additional challenges of lockdown, Scotland’s food and drink producers have had to quickly adapt the ‘new normal’. For Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2020, we selected a variety of our own members and others in the story of Scotland’s food and drink sector, all worthy of being recognised as Local Legends. We could highlight a local legend for every day of the year because the Scottish Gin sector is filled with so many wonderful and talented people putting their local area on the map. Here’s to them all!

First up, we introduce Head Distiller at the Isle of Raasay Distillery, Iain Robertson. Iain graduated from the world-renowned International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Like many of his fellow graduates, Iain has become part of an exciting new distillery journey. For him, it’s on the remote, but beautiful island of Raasay, responsible for the production of whisky and gin. We take a look back at our Meet the Distiller interview with Iain from December 2019, read it here.

One of the loveliest and most hard-working individuals we’ve come across in Scottish Gin is owner and distiller at The Wee Farm Distillery, Jenny McKerr. Not only is Jenny producing fantastic Scottish Gin, but she’s running a farm, planting fruit orchards, restoring byres and converting accommodation to create an all inclusive gin retreat, raising a young family and much much more. You really have to visit The Wee Farm Distillery to experience it for yourself! We take a look back on our Growing with Gin interview with Jenny from March 2019, read it here.

Orkney as a place is steeped in history and tradition with many tales of its own local legends and villains. Orkney is not only home to the family-run Orkney Gin Company, but it provides the inspiration and ingredients for the taste, look and feel for their brand and products. Today we celebrate Gary, Andrea and Erin who are creating their own legacy on Orkney. Learn more about Orkney Gin Company here.

We thought it apt to pay tribute to Duncan Tait, recently semi-retired, but with a distillery career spanning 5 decades. Having worked for Diageo for close to 30 years, we actually know him personally from his more recent role as Distillery Manager at GlenWyvis Distillery, the world’s first community-owned distillery in Dingwall in the Highlands of Scotland. We wish Duncan the very best for the future. Although he’s planning on an extended break, we have no doubt there are a few distilleries out there that will be able to call upon his expertise in years to come. Learn more about GlenWyvis Distillery here.

Local legends on the isle of Jura: Claire, Georgina and Alicia of Lussa Gin. Between them, they grow and gather 15 local botanicals that go into Lussa Gin, creating a genuine expression of their home island, off Scotland’s wild west coast. We look back on ‘Discovering Scottish Gin’ with Lussa Gin here.

Dale and Vicky McQueen continue their good work, actively support neighbouring charity It’s Good 2 Give! at the Ripple Retreat. We chatted to Vicky earlier this year as part of our G is for Gin (and Good) series to learn more about how McQueen Gin support the wonderful charity, read it here.

Emma and Niall Macalister Hall of Beinn an Tuirc Distillers are lovingly restoring the Torrisdale Castle Estate, which has been in their family for generations. The estate now offers holiday accommodation, a distillery with tours, tasting room and gin shop. Planning and renovations are well underway for a whisky distillery, gin school, walled garden and cafe. Not forgetting their Hall’s of Campbeltown spirits shop, all of which create jobs and tourism for Argyll & Bute. Learn more about Beinn an Tuirc Distillers, makers of Kintyre Gin, here.

Responsible for the marvellously mixed musical Martini maker, the cocktail dispensing Japanese airport fire engine, the Monkeybike mobile gin bar, Mabel the labeller, Brussel Sprout Christmas gin baubles… need we go on?! We couldn’t let Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell at Pickering’s Gin go unmentioned. Learn more about Pickering’s Gin here.

Esker Spirits, the brand responsible for Aberdeenshire’s first gin distillery, founded in October 2015 by husband and wife Steve and Lynne Duthie. Located on the Kincardine Highland Estate, Royal Deeside, the Esker Spirits Distillery sits atop of an Esker, a ridge created by a glacier and hence where the business and products get their name. We throwback to our Time for Gin video interview with Lynne & Steve from late last year, where we discovered more about their journey into the wonderful world of Scottish Gin, watch it here.

What better time to revisit our Women of Gin interview with the talented Lesley Gracie, who helped develop and create the iconic Hendrick’s Gin, found behind most bars around the world. A fascinating individual and journey she’s been on with the brand. Read what Lesley had to say here.

Legend tells that The Crow Man was a travelling medicine man who toured the Borders offering the ailing, the weary and the lovelorn ‘little brighteners’ from his leather gladstone bag. Distiller at Kelso Gin Company, Andrew, has been known to don the Crow Man’s suit and the modern day distillery offers a range of Scottish Gin, distilled in traditional copper pot stills. Learn more about Kelso Gin Company here.

We look at local legends of Tiree, Ian Smith and Alain Campbell, who not only produce Tyree Gin from their distillery on the remote island of Tiree, but are officially one third of Gaels band Trail West. Learn more about Tyree Gin here.

Isle of Harris Distillers has re-energised the island with their social distillery and collaborative nature, working with local people, producers and partners to showcase everything Harris has to offer, including Harris Gin. Learn more about Isle of Harris Distillers here.

The Botanist Gin not only produce one of the most well known Scottish Gins but they recently celebrated B Corp status, which demonstrates their commitment to high social and environmental standards, including their progressive attitude towards community, sustainability and transparency. Congratulations to everyone at Bruichladdich Distillery on this remarkable achievement. Learn more about The Botanist Gin here.

We have to mention Walter Micklewait at Inshriach Gin. Inshriach Estate near Aviemore is home to a distillery, yurt, shed of the year 2015, sheep farm, guitar workshop, shepherd’s hut, cocktail bar, grand guest house, hot tub, saloon, wedding venue, an annual gin & jazz festival and lots more! We look back on ‘A day in the life of’ with Walter from November 2018… still a fantastically hilarious read. Read it here.

It’s only fitting for our last post as part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2020 that we recognise the invaluable hard work of Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers along with all the team at Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Distillers Association. Collectively they’ve done an amazing job of keeping Scotland’s food and drink producers up to date, often day by day, hour by hour, about the impact of COVID.

We’ve followed James and the Scotland Food & Drink Twitter accounts in particular and lost count of the number of meetings with government, MSPs, food & drink producers and other industry bodies that we saw James attending, literally a superhuman effort to ensure Scotland’s food and drink producers had the very latest, factual info to help guide them through 2020.

With continued hard work and a little luck, Scotland’s amazing food and drinks sector can weather whatever the future holds and Scotland’s reputation as being one of the world’s best producers of premium food and drink can continue to grow. Well done to all the team at Scotland Food & Drink. Until next year!…

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