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'Hugely impressive' Dunnet Bay Distillers named Highlands' outstanding business of the year


By Calum MacLeod

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Martin and Claire Murray of Dunnet Bay Distillers, winners of the SCDI Highlands and Islands chair's award for outstanding business achievement.
Martin and Claire Murray of Dunnet Bay Distillers, winners of the SCDI Highlands and Islands chair's award for outstanding business achievement.

A Caithness company set up with the modest aim of making its owners a living has been honoured for outstanding business achievement at the SCDI Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards.

Dunnet Bay Distillers was founded by Martin and Claire Murray as a lifestyle business eight years ago and now exports to 25 countries, as well amassing several industry titles along the way for its gin and vodka range.

The couple have now added to their award tally with the most prestigious of the 10 awards announced at SCDI's annual north of Scotland awards ceremony, the SCDI Highlands and Islands chair's award for outstanding achievement.

This was announced by outgoing regional chairwoman Jane Cumming, who praised the couple not only for their business success, but their commitment to sustainability with their innovative refill pouches.

She commented: "I’ve been hugely impressed watching their progress – they are a company that is always moving forward.

"To me they exemplify what is great about our wonderful part of the world – their location is an asset, not an obstacle and they are flexible and innovative in their approach. This has put them at the forefront of gin production in a region more usually associated with Scotch whisky and I am delighted to honour them with the chair’s award for outstanding business achievement.”

In response Mr Murray said he was honoured to receive the award on behalf of Dunnet Bay Distillers and its small innovative team.

He also thanked the people of Caithness for their support.

"The local community really got behind us and it was great to be able to repay that support by handing out hand sanitiser free of charge to local medical practices and turn our shop into a community shop," he added.

Joan D'Arcy of Plastic@bay.
Joan D'Arcy of Plastic@bay.

Among the other winners at the event, which was held online and hosted by comedian and impressionist Alistair McGowan, was Durness social enterprise Plastic@bay.

This won the Harper Macleod for excellence in natural capital, climate change and sustainable communities for cleaning up plastic waste from north beaches and putting it to new use in anything from clocks to jewellery.

Other winners included Inverness hotelier Tony Story of Kingsmills Hotel Group, who was named outstanding business leader, and leading aquaculture business MOWI, which won the award for excellence in international business.

Outstanding business leader, Tony Story of Kingsmills Hotel Group.
Outstanding business leader, Tony Story of Kingsmills Hotel Group.

The SCDI Highlands and Islands Business Excellence Awards winners for 2021:

SCDI Highlands and Islands Chair’s Award for outstanding business achievement: Dunnet Bay Distillers

Alvance Aluminium Award for outstanding business leader: Tony Story, Kingsmills Hotel Group

Benromach Award for excellence in international business: MOWI

Ocean Winds Award for Excellence in marine innovation and growing the blue economy: SAMS

SCDI Award for excellence in people development: Aquascot

The Crown Estate Scotland Award for outstanding supporter of coastal communities: Cullen Bay Hotel

The Harper Macleod Award for excellence in natural capital, climate change and sustainable communities: Plastic@bay

The Highland Council Award for Highland spirit and resilience: Williamson Foodservice

The Highlands and Islands Enterprise Award for excellence in upskilling, reskilling and emerging leaders: AES Solar

The Open University in Scotland Award for SME enterprise of the year: Mesomorphic


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