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Thurso graduate celebrates after his smoked orange gin wins major award

By Gordon Calder

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A DUNNET Bay Distillers graduate is toasting his success in winning a major award. Craig Chambers, who comes from Thurso, won the NFU Mutual's Inspirational Young Person Award which celebrates talented 16 to 26-year-olds involved in the food and drink industry. He wins a cash prize of £500.

Craig, who is 23, created the latest gin in the Rock Rose Gin portfolio with his smoked orange gin. The recent brewing and distilling graduate, worked with the Caithness company since he was a teenager. He was employed part-time in various aspects of the business, from bottling to tour guides to sales and also helped it reduce its energy consumption.

Craig Chambers (centre) with Martin Murray (left) , a director of Dunnet Bay Distillers and Graham Laing from NFU Mutual
Craig Chambers (centre) with Martin Murray (left) , a director of Dunnet Bay Distillers and Graham Laing from NFU Mutual

As part of a full-time graduate placement scheme, Craig returned to the company where he was invited by co-founder Martin Murray, the master distiller, to come up with an entirely new gin expression. The company is thrilled with the result and Craig is delighted with his award.

Just as he will be leaving the UK to take up his next training position in South America, the gin he created will be launched as part of the company's core range. Initially, it was released in the summer in just a small batch and was so popular that it sold out almost immediately.

Craig, who gained his degree from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said: "I have a passion for smoky, peaty whiskies and so it was a natural development to consider a smoky gin."

John Davidson, deputy chief executive and strategy director for Scotland Food and Drink, said: "Scotland's food and drink industry is full of innovative and talented young people who are going to be driving our sector forward in the coming years. Craig is an excellent example of this and a fantastic ambassador for the sector. His passion for distilling combined with his ability to think outside of the box makes him a deserving winner of this award."

Martin Murray and Claire Murray, are co-directors and co-founders of Dunnet Bay Distillers which makes Holy Grass Vodka as well as Rock Rose Gin.

Craig added: "I've got Martin and Claire to thank for building my understanding of how the business runs and my university tutors to thank for inspiring me to pursue this as a career. Martin and Claire are an inspiration."

Martin Murray said: "Craig has done a great job since he came in as a distiller and this gin is a cracker. I am thrilled for him that he's now won an award, too."

The award-winning company produces nine flavours of gin.

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