Driving home from a meeting today 30 Seconds to Mars were on the radio, with a song that featured in the Scottish Gin Awards last week. It still sends tingles down my spine when I think back on the success of the evening.
So, how did we get here? About a year ago I was at an awards do in Edinburgh, and without name-dropping, a Hollywood heavy weight was also there. But what was running through my mind was the thought “we need to celebrate Scottish Gin, I am going to organise an Awards ceremony a bit like this one, Oscar winner or not in attendance”. As fate would have it, on the other side of the room Kirsten Speirs of KD Media was having the same thought.
Fast forward a couple of months, we got together and dreamt up this event, with the Scottish Gin Society as lead sponsor.
As with anything liks this, it took a lot of hard work to get it off the ground, and back in June I chaired the Judging Panel of industry experts to judge the 15 categories, ranging from Scottish Bar of the Year, to Excellence in Branding; along with all the (delicious) taste categories.
So, there we were – Thursday 14th September, 530 people in a room, with 30 of the 37 Scottish distilleries represented. At last count there are 71 Scottish Gin brands, and 174 expressions or variants. This is quite incredible as only two years ago, there were a mere 14 Scottish distilleries and 21 brands. That alone is cause for celebration, as well as the number of new gins coming to market, almost on a weekly basis (it’s a full time job just keeping up!).
To say the mood in the room was electric is a huge understatemen. It really was quite incredible, you could feel the excitement. What really made the evening special was the sense of community in the Scottish Gin world, and although there was a healthy dose of competition, we were genuinely touched at how celebratory each of the nominees were of the winners.
The two biggest wins of the night went to Arbikie, for Distillery of the Year, which was a truly deserved win, as they are true Field to Bottle Producers; and the Gin of the Year went to Verdant Dry Gin in Dundee, who only started producing gin in April of this year.
But now the glitz is over and at SGS HQ we’re back to our day jobs of promoting Scottish Gin, growing our Society membership and working on our online and social media presence; developing our interactive Scottish Gin Distillery map, which is ever changing and helping journalists and broadcasters spread the world of this great product. This year, we’ll be on the road, visiting as many of the wonderful Scottish Gin distilleries as we can and bringing you all the latest on the industry developments – hopefully with a few exciting surprises along the way!
So, the question in my head is how do we top what was undoubtedly the Scottish Gin event of the year? By working hard to do it all again next September, of course!