Artisan Drink Finalists 2018

Wild Thyme Spirits

Isle of Colonsay, Argyll

WTS not only makes premium artisan spirits but also runs a Gin Lover’s Retreat from its Hebridean HQ on the island of Colonsay. It was formed in August 2016 by husband and wife, Finlay and Eileen Geekie. Their first product – Colonsay Gin – was launched in March 2017 and since then, the two entrepreneurs have sold over 3,000 bottles in the first six months and gained listings in over 90 on and off-sales establishments in Scotland, the wider UK., and online, as well as selling direct from the island through their own website shop.


Orkney Distilling Limited


Orkney Distilling Ltd formed the business on the last day of January 2016. Orkney Distillery Ltd long since noticed that a high quality gin brand was missing from the already fantastic Orcadian exports of food and drink, and so took the leap of faith, and set about creating Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin. They recognised from the outset the importance of local provenance, and considered it essential to therefore maximise the use of local resource in developing the product and brand. They are mid-way through the construction of their Orkney Distillery and Visitor Centre on Kirkwall’s seafront, and in 2018 it is their aim to welcome 10,000 tourists through the doors in our first season.


Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd.

Tarbert, Isle of Harris

The first legal distillery in the Isle of Harris has been established with the aims of addressing issues of population decline, and the related challenges facing the fragile rural economy, in this remote Outer Hebridean location. The result of several years of involved community planning and investment generation, the distillery build has now come to fruition, opening its doors to the public in October 2015 and creating an inaugural Isle of Harris Gin.


Gordon Castle Scotland

Fochabers, Moray

Gordon Castle Estate, Walled Garden and the Gordon Castle Scotland brand are the results of eight years hard work by Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox since they took over the running of Gordon Castle Estate, Fochabers in 2008. Today, the estate offers exclusive use accommodation in the castle, self-catering holiday cottages, world-class salmon fishing, Walled Garden visitor attraction, natural children’s play area and a cafe serving delicious fresh food from the garden and local suppliers.


Deerness Distillery Ltd

Deerness, Kirkwall

Deerness Distillery was founded by Stuart and Adelle in April 2016 with an ambition to create truly handcrafted spirits and liqueurs in Deerness where they live with their three children. The distillery was been built by the family and friends on their land adjacent to the family home to enable us to build a family-run business whilst ensuring they were maintaining a work-family balance. Their ambition would be to be available all over the UK; they’ve made a good start with Tom Thumb Cocktail Bar in Newquay serving their gin and they will continue to work towards this in 2018.


Dalrannoch Brewing Co

Crieff, Perthshire

The five barrel brewery has been operating for just over a year now and is run by Sophie and her partner Brett. They have an extreme want to bring amazing beers to their  customers, which so far seems to be working. Brett worked offshore in an industry he had no love for and, as they had their little girl, he was desperate to be at home…doing something he absolutely loves. Despite not fully realising how much hard work it was going to be, they knew they had made the right decision. They mainly sell at farmers and food markets, festivals and to local off license, restaurants and bars. Theyself distribute also so know exactly where their beers are and how well they are going.


Buck and Birch Ltd (Aelder Elixir)

Dunbar, East Lothian

Aelder Elixir is a hand-crafted wild elderberry liqueur. They infuse wild Scottish elderberries with wild Scottish spices and botanicals before blending with young Scottish whisky. The end result is a drink that is rich, dark, fruity and complex with a beautifully warming finish. Drunk neat it is a perfect alternative to port and pairs perfectly with game, cheese, charcuterie and dark chocolate. Added to a glass of fizz it makes an indulgent aperitif or works wonders in all manner of cocktails – a mixologist’s dream. At the Buck and Birch their passion is to showcase the very best wild Scottish ingredients available. They take pride in elevating overlooked and forgotten ingredients into contemporary, luxury products that represent our fantastic wild larder without cliches or stereotypes.


Ben Nevis Distillery

Lochy Bridge, Forth William

The distillery was established in 1825 by John McDonald and has had many owners including Joseph Hobbs in 1955, who decided to distill both malt and grain whiskies from the same distillery, being one of the first to do so. In 1981 his family sold to Whitbread and Co and the current owners, Nikka, now part of the Asahi group, purchased the distillery in 1989. In 1991 the distillery opened the visitor centre and cafe. Currently they employ 30 staff, which includes seasonal tour guides, to cover all aspects of the business from production, warehousing, admin and the visitor centre to produce spirit on a continuous 24 hour, seven day a week operation.


Beinn an Tuirc Distillers

Torrisdale, Carradale, Campbeltown

Beinn an Tuirc Distillers (BaT) began production of Kintyre Gin in June 2017. This was the culmination of nearly three years of planning, building refurbishments, licence applications, branding consultations, recipe development and procurement. They are based at Torrisdale Castle Estate in Kintyre, which has been in the family of BaT director, Niall Macalister Hall, for five generations. The upkeep of the castle and surrounding 1200 acres demand a substantial income which, up until recently, came mainly from a self-catering business, tenanted farmland and private rentals. Their long term ambitions are to create a successful and sustainable family business which remains rooted in Kintyre and keeps the community and the environment at its heart.


Avva Scottish Gin

Elgin Speyside

Avva Scottish Gin launched in late 2016 and is one of the smallest distilleries on Speyside. Their focus is on producing premium small batch spirits, mainly gin and liqueurs but they are based in the heart of whisky country. Distilling is carried out on the UK’s first Scottish made gin still, which was hand-crafted by Speyside Copper Works in Elgin. Affectionately named after the distiller’s grandmothers, Jessie-Jean is a small 250l full-copper still with a vapour basket to create exceptionally smooth flavour balanced gins.