We take a look at some of the most exciting up-and-coming companies in the drinks business, that we think will make their mark this year.

2015 was Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and though it was the country’s produce that was on show, the true stars of the show were the producers.

Here are our picks of the rising stars to look out for this year from the Drinks industry in Scotland.

Gin

The Scottish Ginfographic. Picture: 5pm.co.uk

The Scottish Ginfographic. Picture: 5pm.co.uk

No other sector, outside of perhaps whisky and seafood, had such a massive transformation as the gin industry did in 2015.

Scottish gin now accounts for 70% of all the gin produced in the UK and international exports are booming, up 37 per cent in the past five years with sales to 139 countries.

With the announcement of a new Scottish gin trail, we’ve taken a look at some of the gin companies we think will be grabbing the headlines in 2016.

Edinburgh Gin

Relaunching their popular Christmas gin at the end of last year, Edinburgh gin capped off what had been a great year for the capital distillery.

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The Spencerfield Spirit company continues to wow visitors to its distillery, nestled below the stairs of Rutland Place in the capital and impress with their wide range of excellent gins and we’ve no doubt that more than a few people will be buying their excellent Valentine’s gin to enjoy with their partners next month.

Eden Mill

The industrious brewery/distillery had a very productive year, continuing to distil its new spirit – which will go on to become its very first whisky – and producing some absolutely cracking beers but it’s the continued success of its gin range that has really got people talking.

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Following on from the launch of their popular Love gin, the St Andrews based company quickly followed up with the well received Golf gin, launched to coincide with the Open Championship. We can’t wait to see what they bring out next.

Stirling gin

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The new kid on the block is already getting very good reviews, with many people taking notice of their interesting gin which is made using several botanicals including Juniper, basil and hand-picked nettles no less.

Currently distilled in Glasgow, there are said to be plans for a relocation soon. Watch this space.

Daffy’s Gin

Picture: Daffy's

Picture: Daffy’s

Chris Molyneaux and the crew at Daffy’s are some of the hardest working people in the Scottish drinks industry and tend to pop at all the big – and a lot of the small – drinks events promoting their gin.

Thankfully Daffy’s makes the hard work worth while as it’s a cracking little gin that is one of the shining lights of the Scottish gin scene.

And it looks like we aren’t the only ones to have noticed as they’ve just picked up a huge deal to supply Waitrose. Keep an eye out for them because we expect big things.

Whisky

2015 was a crazy year for Scotland’s whisky industry, stalling growth and global competition did little to dampen its popularity and Scotch maintained its position as one of the world’s most popular spirits.

However it was back home in Scotland and the opening of several new distilleries and the success of established ones that really caught the interest.

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns distillery in Fife

Kingsbarns distillery in Fife

Independent bottling giants Wemyss malts invested nearly £3m into this fledging distillery recently, with the team now set for big things.

Located in The East Neuk of Fife, overlooking the world-renowned Kingsbarns Championship golf course, the distillery recently began selling its new make spirit and celebrated the anniversary of its first distillation this month.

Wolfburn

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Scotland’s now most Northern distillery on the mainland – replacing Old Pulteney – has been quietly working away without creating too many headlines.

The reason for this is because they have just produced their first casked whisky (which first laid down three years ago), meaning that for the first time in around 150 years, Thurso once again has its own whisky. We are looking forward to seeing where they go from here and we can’t wait to try the new whisky.

Strathearn

Strathearn distillery. Picture: Strathearn

Strathearn distillery. Picture: Strathearn

Opened in 2013, Strathearn distillery is Scotland’s first micro-distillery and probably also the smallest commercial distillery. Interestingly, it’s possibly the most open of all the current distilleries in that it offers plenty of tours and even opportunities to take part in the distillation process itself.

They use traditional Alambic style stills and both peated and unpeated spirit has been produced so far, with the first bottles expected this year. In the meantime, while you wait, check out their awesome gin.

R & B Distillers

Picture: Lux

Picture: Lux

It’s been a busy few years for Bill Dobbie and business partner Alasdair Day as they announced not only the plans to build a new distillery on Raasay near the Isle of Skye, but also the news that they intended to construct a second distillery in the Borders.

Hoping to have Raasay distillery up and running by early next year, with the Borders distillery to follow on after, we are expecting big things and hopefully, some great whisky.

Vodka

Arbikie

Arbikie

Scotland’s newest “farm-to-bottle” distillery, which they say is the first to grow, distil and bottle spirit anywhere in Scotland, has been gathering awards for its potato vodka.

Their Smoky Chilli Vodka uses Chipotle Chilli’s from Scotland’s first chilli farm, Chillilicious, and has to be tried to be believed. With the release of Kirsty’s gin at the tail end of last year and news of whisky to follow, we see big things in the future for Arbikie.

Ogilvy

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This Scottish potato vodka is already an award winner, scooping a double gold medal and sliver for at the prestigious 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The Jarrons began making the distillery on their farm in 2014 – complete with a custom built still from John Dore & Co (the world’s oldest still maker) – and began to produce potato vodka at the end of last year.

By the middle of 2015, they were producing 2,000 bottles of Ogilvy Vodka a month and were looking to expand operations. Crisp, citrusy and creamy, the future looks bright for this interesting vodka.

Rum

Dark Matter Distillers

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Yes you read that right, rum.

Scotland gained its first purpose-built rum distillery in Aberdeenshire in 2014 and the company behind it haven’t looked back, producing their first rum in April last year.

Their richly spiced rum It’s made from sugar cane molasses with added ginger, green and black peppercorns, and dried long pepper, we’ve tried it and it’s delicious.

Beer

Craft beer has become incredibly popular over the last year as its presence becomes more and more ubiquitous, Scottish brewers have met the challenge of producing great beers head on.

Drygate brewing Company

Drygate brewery in Glasgow

Drygate brewery in Glasgow

More of a social hub than a brewery, Drygate in Glasgow’s East End has not only made headlines producing its own beer but they also have helped the next generation of great brewers by offering them the use of their studio kit.

Not content with just brewing great beers such as Baerface lager and axe man IPA they also showcase some of the best breweries from Scotland and beyond in their on site bar and beer shop.

Campervan Brewery

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Beer making on the move is the unique concept behind Campervan Brewery and doing so in style if the 1973 Volkswagen campervan that serves as the brewery is anything to go by.

The man behind this exhilarating concept, Paul Gibson, says the freedom of the brewery’s mobility gives him more scope to do directly to the sources, be that honey from a beehive or fruit from a fruit farm, and to create some truly unique beers. We’ve been impressed by what we’ve seen so far and are expecting big things.

Windswept Brewing Company 

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Still a relatively small brewery, they, ahem, swept onto the scene last year and have been producing some excellent beers. Based in Lossiemouth. We particularly loved their Typhoon Amarillo IPA – ridiculously moreish – but the star of the show is undoubtedly the Glen Moray whisky cask matured The Wolf, a 9.2% dark ale.

We look forward to see what they release this year.

WooHa Brewing Company

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The new all female micro brewery based in Nairn impressed us last year with its sterling showing at North Hop.

Partner that with their beer releases, including their awesome new WooHa Wheat and they’ve had an interesting first year.

We are expecting big things, so look out for their coo label popping up across the country and beyond this year.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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