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Icons of Whisky Scotland 2017

When it comes to whisky making, it’s easy to forget just how many people and companies are involved in each bottle of Scotch. From the distillers themselves, still makers and coopers, to warehouse staff and visitor centre managers – a great deal of craftsmanship, skill and knowledge are imparted at each stage of the process.

As we enjoy the finished product, it is worthwhile considering the years of work that go in to producing our favourite drams, and Whisky Magazine’s Icons of Whisky awards are a celebration of just that. This is our chance to thank the individuals and producers for their dedication to each innovative release, unique visitor experience or expert retail service that they work tirelessly to deliver.

After a very successful year for Scotch, topped off by Old Pulteney taking the single malt crown in our annual World Whiskies Awards, it is never an easy decision to pick a winner in each of the Icons categories. Following online nominations and voting by the industry, our editorial panel had the unenviable task of making the final decisions and we are delighted to bring you the results of the Scotland stage of the 2017 awards.

Brand Innovator of the year

TOMATIN DISTILLERY COMPANY

Tomatin Distillery Company has enjoyed plenty of Icons success in recent years having taken the Distiller title in last year’s awards. Now, the company’s focus on developing its portfolio with innovative brands and experimental expressions has paid off. From the Travel Retail range of Tomatin’s flagship malt to limited and exclusive bottlings such as the Caribbean Rum and Warehouse 6 Collection, we’re in no doubt there are plenty of surprises to come. The company also markets products under the Cù Bòcan name and Sir Walter Scott inspired blended Scotch brands The Antiquary and The Talisman.

Highly Commended
Douglas Laing & Co

Shortlist
Douglas Laing & Co
Kilkerran - Glengyle Distillery
The BenRiach Distillery Company
Tomatin Distillery Company
William Grant & Sons

Craft Producer of the year

GLASGOW DISTILLERY COMPANY

Glasgow has a long but interrupted history of distilling starting with the original Glasgow Distillery built back in 1770. The Glasgow Distillery Company took over operations of the stills in 1825 and produced spirit until the early 20th Century when the stills were removed. It wasn’t until the rise of craft distilling, and a rediscovery of connections to the original distillery, that the company was reborn in 2013. Soon the company had its first product, Makar Gin, and whisky stills firmly in place. With the first cask filled back in March 2015, we look forward to a taste of this distiller’s promising future.

Highly Commended
Arbikie Highland Estate

Shortlist
Arbikie Highland Estate
Ballindalloch Distillery
Eden Mill
Glasgow Distillery Company
Strathearn Distillery

Distiller of the year

INTERNATIONAL BEVERAGE (INVER HOUSE DISTILLERS)

International Beverage specialises in the production and global development of distinctive premium, local brands. With a regional headquarters at Inver House Distillers in Airdrie, Scotland, the company has a network of five distilleries producing a portfolio of internationally recognised Scotch whiskies. With brands like Old Pulteney, Balblair, anCnoc, Speyburn and premium blend Hankey Bannister among its offerings, it is no surprise that the company is picking up top industry awards - not least, World’s Best Single Malt for Old Pulteney 1989 Vintage.

Highly Commended
Beam Suntory

Shortlist
Beam Suntory
Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard)
Edrington Group
International Beverage (Inver House Distillers)
Loch Lomond Group (Loch Lomond Distillery)
Tomatin Distillery Company
William Grant & Sons

Distillery Manager of the year

KEITH CRUICKSHANK - BENROMACH DISTILLERY COMPANY

Keith began his career in the industry over 25 years ago when he started working for Chivas Brothers doing a bit of everything from cask handling to production. In 1998 he joined Benromach before taking over as distillery manager two years later. Keith’s main priority is to ensure the spirit is of the highest quality, but he also loves helping out at the visitor centre and meeting those who share his passion for Benromach Scotch whisky. For Keith, seeing people buy a bottle of the spirit that the team has put so much effort into creating is something very special.

Highly Commended
Gordon Bruce - Knockdhu Distillery

Shortlist
Callum Fraser - J & G Grant - Glenfarclas Distillery
David Turner - Beam Suntory
Georgie Crawford - Diageo
Gordon Bruce - anCnoc / Knockdhu Distillery
Keith Cruickshank - Benromach Distillery Company
Michael Heads - The Glenmorangie Company (Ardbeg Distillery)

Master Distiller / Master Blender of the year

ALAN WINCHESTER - THE GLENLIVET DISTILLERY

Alan has been in the distilling trade for over 30 years and joined The Glenlivet Distillers in 1979. By 2009, he was appointed master distiller and he is the ultimate guarantor of The Glenlivet now and for the future. Beyond the distillery, he maintains a personal interest in the history of the industry, inspiring the creation of The Glenlivet Smugglers Trails in 2007. He can often be found leading walks, giving personal insight and historical perspective to the hoards of eager walkers and whisky lovers visiting the glen each year.

Highly Commended
Dr Craig Wilson - Diageo

Shortlist
Alan Winchester - The Glenlivet Distillery
Dr Bill Lumsden - The Glenmorangie Company
Dr Craig Wilson - Diageo
James McTaggart - Isle of Arran Distillery
Jim Beveridge - Diageo
Max McFarlane - Highland Park Distillery

Multiple Outlets Retailer of the year

ROBERT GRAHAM

Sir Robert Graham, Treasurer of Glasgow, founded the company in 1874 with a shop on Glasgow’s Oxford Street. The shop was a newsagents and tobacconist and eventually opened a further 20 stores. By the 1990s, Robert Graham was operating from a single shop in the city as a tobacco and cigar specialist before the company expanded its expertise to selling malt whisky and producing its own bottlings. With two more shops in Edinburgh, Robert Graham stocks some of the finest whiskies from around the world. Get involved in whisky and cigar tastings for an indulgent and intimate pairing experience.

Highly Commended
Drinkmonger

Shortlist
Cadenhead's Whisky Shop
Drinkmonger
Luvians Bottle Shop
Robert Graham

Online Retailer of the year

ROYAL MILE WHISKIES - WWW.ROYALMILEWHISKIES.COM

Royal Mile Whiskies is a regular in these categories, but the crown fits particularly well this year as the company has just launched a new-look site. The specialist whisky merchant has streamlined its online selection to offer buyers a more focused retail experience. Gone are the days of snapping up whatever is available in a ‘very noisy malt market’. From now on, the company is getting picky and helping customers select only the best by working with preferred bottlers and presenting new releases simply because they taste great.

Highly Commended
Robbie’s Whisky Merchants - www.robbieswhiskymerchants.com

Shortlist
Abbey Whisky
The Green Welly Stop
Robbie's Whisky Merchants
Royal Mile Whiskies
Singlemaltsdirect.com
The Whisky Shop Dufftown

Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of the year

GEORGE S GRANT - J&G GRANT (GLENFARCLAS DISTILLERY)

George is the sixth generation of the Grant family to act as custodian for the Glenfarclas Distillery having joined the business in 2000 after working for Inver House Distillers and Fine Vintages. George enjoys introducing whisky lovers to the older expressions of Glenfarclas, those distilled by his grandfather and watched over by his father. He oversees brand activity in over 60 markets worldwide and regularly travels abroad to promote and expand the family business. George is the third generation of his family to be awarded Keeper of the Quaich.

Highly Commended
Gordon Dundas - Beam Suntory

Shortlist
Donald Colville - Diageo
Ewan Gunn - Diageo
George S Grant - J & G Grant - Glenfarclas
Gordon Dundas - Beam Suntory
Karen Fullerton - The Glenmorangie Company
Rob Allanson - William Grant & Sons
Tony Reeman-Clark - Strathearn Distillery

Single Outlet Retailer of the year

GORDON & MACPHAIL

James Gordon and John Alexander MacPhail opened their first store on 24 May 1895 on South Street, Elgin and it is still going strong to this day. In addition to offering high quality grocery products and wines, the store boasts a Whisky Room stocking around 1,000 different single malts. Discover your new favourites with the superb whisky tasting service where enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike can indulge in everything from regional and educational tastings to food pairings for as little as £20 per person. This ‘Aladdin’s Cave of whisky’ is a must-visit, particularly if on the search for something special.

Highly Commended
Royal Mile Whiskies

Shortlist
The Good Spirits Company
Gordon & MacPhail
The Green Welly Stop
Robbie's Whisky Merchants
Royal Mile Whiskies
TB Watsons
The Whisky Shop Dufftown

Supermarket of the year

TESCO

Tesco currently has a large supermarket presence throughout Scotland with over 60 Superstores and 30 Extras located throughout the country. With a huge selection of products on offer at affordable prices, it is no wonder Tesco has topped the list in this Icons category for another year. In terms of whisky, you will find everything from the finest blends to award-winning single malts at prices ranging from just £10 to £70. Most stores offer whiskies from around the world and you can even enjoy Tesco’s own branded Special Reserve scotch whisky. Make that weekly shop dramtastic!

Highly Commended
Lidl

Shortlist
Asda
Lidl
Sainsbury's
Tesco
Waitrose

Travel Retailer of the year

WORLD OF WHISKIES - EDINBURGH AND GLASGOW AIRPORTS

For the second year running, World of Whiskies has taken the Travel Retailer title. World of Whiskies first opened in 1992, and following the success of the first two stores, the retailer now features in seven of the UK’s major airports. Whether after the perfect gift, or simply adding to your collection with the latest exclusives, the stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh are suitably stocked. With over 300 world whiskies selected by expert buyers, the highly trained staff are on hand to offer an exceptional experience. A whisky paradise before taking to the skies!

Highly Commended
The Fly Nip Whisky Shop, Inverness Airport

Visitor Attraction Manager of the year

RIKKI SCOTT - ABERLOUR DISTILLERY

Rikki joined Aberlour in May 2014 as visitor centre supervisor. His passion for Aberlour comes across to both visitors and colleagues, boosting the average spend in the shop over the last year. His enthusiasm and innovation have brought positive changes to the attraction. A fine example of this was when Rikki identified the issue of designated drivers missing out on sampling Aberlour’s world-renowned malts. To combat this, he created the £3 drivers’ tasting kit, allowing drivers to nose samples before decanting into individual bottles to enjoy at home.

Highly Commended
Leigh Aitken - Lagavulin Distillery

Shortlist
Annette MacKenzie - Glenmorangie Distillery
Jackie Thomson - Ardbeg Distillery
Leigh Aitken - Lagavulin Distillery
Patricia Retson - Highland Park Distillery
Rikki Scott - Aberlour Distillery
Stuart Cassells - The Famous Grouse Experience
Susan Colville - Benromach Distillery Company

Visitor Attraction of the year

HIGHLAND PARK DISTILLERY

No trip to Orkney would be complete without a look around Highland Park Distillery which has welcomed over 15,000 visitors this year. With a variety of tours ranging from a one hour Heritage tour to the more in-depth Connoisseur and Magnus Eunson tours, this popular tourist attraction caters for all levels of Highland Park enthusiasm. For the hard-core fan, take on a Specialist tour and prove your worth by working a day at the distillery. At £1,000 per person, this promises to be a truly memorable experience with a full island tour, seven course meal, photobook of your day and exclusive distillery bottling.

Highly Commended
Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre

Shortlist
Aberlour Distillery
Ardbeg Distillery
Highland Park Distillery
Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre
Talisker Distillery
The Famous Grouse Experience