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Latheronwheel distillery the only Highland winner in Scottish Edge Business competition

By Jean Gunn

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Distiller Iain Black of Ice & Fire Distillery. Picture: Angus Mackay
Distiller Iain Black of Ice & Fire Distillery. Picture: Angus Mackay

Ice & Fire Distillery has secured £70k towards ambitious plans to expand the business, including the creation of a visitor centre at its base in Latheronwheel.

The local company, led by distiller Iain Black, were among the winners in the latest round of the Scottish Edge Business competition – the UK's biggest funding awards of this type. A total of 29 potential high-growth businesses from a range of sectors across Scotland benefited to the tune of £1.175 million.

Speaking on behalf of the team at Ice & Fire Distillery, Jacquie Black said: "We were absolutely delighted to be the only company in the Highlands in the finals and to win, so taking this prize back to Caithness is fantastic news.

"We are planning on expanding our range of spirits to include flavoured gin liqueurs and vodka and looking to expand the business with an Illicit Stills visitor centre showcasing the history of crofters and illicit distilling in the Highlands with particular emphasis on Caithness."

She added: "Alistair Murray from Atlantic Consultants in Thurso was instrumental to us both applying and winning Scottish Edge. His mentorship throughout the process was invaluable and we thank him wholeheartedly."

Keynote speakers for the event were Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter and Matt Moulding – chief executive and chairman of global technology platform The Hut Group, which was recently valued at £4.5 billion.

This year, Scottish Edge received 305 applications. The finalists pitched to judges on May 11 in front of a virtual audience with the winners of the competition announced on Tuesday night (May 25).

As well as awarding businesses with funding, Scottish Edge – backed by The Hunter Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise – also provides a business support package that includes mentoring, support and signposting to alternative finance.

Its funding is awarded as 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan, which is paid back to help fellow entrepreneurs on their pathway to success.

Gordon Merrylees, managing director, entrepreneurship, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “We are proud to support Scottish Edge who share our passion and commitment to Scottish entrepreneurship, and a purposeful business community.

“This year’s winners are a testament to the quality and innovation that exists across the country’s start-up and high growth businesses.

“We wish all the winners and entrants all the very best for the future and look forward to supporting their future growth ambitions.”

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