Seventeen businesses across the Highlands, islands and Cairngorms National Park area are celebrating wins from the area’s most prestigious food and drink awards.

The awards recognise excellence across a range of businesses from artisan producers and large-scale food exporters to restaurants and farm shops.   Demonstrating the strength and diversity of the region’s food and drink industry, winners included brand new start up businesses like the Skye Farm Shop alongside established organisations like the Orkney Fishermen’s Society Ltd.

New company the Windswept Brewing Company won the Excellence Award and there was an unusual joint win for the Young Shining Star award for Associated Seafoods Ltd’s Tammy Rendall and Sinclair Bain of the Orkney Fishermen’s Society Ltd.  One of the most prestigious awards, The Ambassador of the Year, was presented to Callum and Jill Clark of Connage Highland Dairy.

The awards received more entries this year than ever before in its eleven year history and were announced at a sold-out ceremony at Inverness’ Kingsmills Hotel on Friday 23 October by comedian Fred MacAulay.

The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards are delivered with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).  Crystal Mackay, Development Manager at HIE, said:

“2015, the Year of Food & Drink has been fantastic for our businesses and many have benefited from the increased exposure at events such as Showcasing Scotland in Gleneagles and the Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London. Our congratulations go to the winners and runners-up who have all risen to the challenge and ensured the reputation of our produce and natural larder is amongst the best in the world.”

Gordon & MacPhail, one of the UK’s leading independent wine, spirit and whisky wholesalers, is headline sponsor.  Stephen Rankin, UK Sales Director, said:

“This year we have again been overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of the products and services offered by the people who enter the awards.

“The Highlands and Islands have an outstanding reputation for fabulous food and drink.  The calibre of all our entries proves that reputation is well deserved and the skill, dedication and resourcefulness of our producers is to be applauded.”

Here are the awards winners:

BEST DRINK AWARD (sponsored by JBT Distribution & ParcelinQ)

Winner: Windswept Brewing Co – Blonde, APA, Wolf, Weizen, Typhoon, Tornado, The Wolf of Glen Moray

Highly commended: Dunnet Bay Distillers – Rock Rose Gin

BEST MARKETING INITATIVE

Winner: Great Glen Charcuterie Ltd

Highly commended: Seafood Shetland

ENVIRONMENT AWARD (Sponsored by The Boxshop Ltd)

Winner: Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd

EXPORT AWARD (Sponsored by XPO Logistics)

Winner: Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd

Highly commended: Associated Seafoods Ltd

FOOD & DRINK BUSINESS GROWTH AWARD (Sponsored by Johnston Carmichael)

Winner: Cobbs Group

Highly commended: Orkney Fisherman’s Society

HEALTHIER FOOD & DRINK AWARD

Winner: Highland Crackers (Highland Cordials)

INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR

Winner: Skye Farm Shop

Highly commended: Buth Bheag

NEW BUSINESS AWARD (Sponsored by Bank of Scotland)

Winner: Dunnet Bay Distillers

Highly commended: Gordon Castle Scotland

NEW PRODUCT (Sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink)

Winner: Windswept Brewing Co – The Wolf of Glen Moray

Highly commended: Dunnet Bay Distillers – Rock Rose Gin

BEST EATERY AWARD (Sponsored by Nessgro and Brook Street)

Winner: Gille Brighde Cafe & Restaurant

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Think Local / SRUC)

Winner: Ninth Wave Restaurant

Highly commended: Isle of Eriska Restaurant

YOUNG SHINING STAR

Joint Winners: Associated Seafoods Ltd – Tammy Rendall
Orkney Fishermen’s Society Ltd – Sinclair Bain

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Caledonian Sleeper)

Winner: Callum and Jill Clark, Connage Highland Dairy

EXCELLENCE AWARD (Sponsored by Gordon & MacPhail)

Winner: Windswept Brewing Co.

• Full details of all the awards can be found at www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com.

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