Wester Ross Salmon founder Gilpin Bradley and Bakkafrost Scotland were among those honoured at the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards 2022, held on Friday 28 October at the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.
Bradley, Managing Director of Wester Ross Salmon for 32 years, has been named Ambassador of the Year. The judges said of him: “He turned this small company into the top salmon producer in Scotland in terms of quality, provenance and price, making it the gold standard for Scottish salmon. He also made Wester Ross an extraordinary export success story, taking on a platoon of US salespeople to sell Wester Ross Salmon into the top restaurants, delis, and retail outlets across the United States.
“He has been a fantastic ambassador, not just for Wester Ross Salmon but for Wester Ross as an area, for the Highlands and Islands and for Scottish salmon in general.”
Bradley said: “I am incredibly honoured to have received this award and delighted that it will give me further opportunities to promote awareness of these awards, the sector, and it’s importance to the economy of the Highlands and Islands throughout the coming year; in my position as Ambassador.
“The resilience, innovation and passion within the Highlands and Islands food and drink industry never fails to impress and inspire and I offer my congratulations to all of the winners and finalists.”
Gilpin Bradley sold Wester Ross to Mowi early this year, and he is now Business Development Director – Farming, Scotland with Mowi.
Aquaculture was well represented in a number of other awards this year. Bakkafrost Scotland, formerly The Scottish Salmon Company, won the award for best Primary producer, as well as being the joint winner in the Sustainability category, sharing it with Kintyre-based Beinn an Tuirc Distillers.
The judges said of Bakkafrost Scotland: “This business nurtures a positive culture of continuous improvement and best practice – integral to their sustainable development.”
The foodservice award went to Salar Smokehouse, based on South Uist. The judges said: “Each and every product… is handled and produced with care as well as being uniquely made in a hand-built kiln to produce the signature flavour and taste this business’s consumer base has grown to know and love.”
Shore – The Scottish Seaweed Company was the winner in the Retail category, for its Shore Seaweed Chips. The judges said: “The winner of this category demonstrated a clever marketing strategy and even started their own beach cleaning programme across Scotland to heighten awareness. This product has also helped to bring a unique and distinctive flavour into the mainstream market for the first time.”
The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, now in their 17th year, showcase and celebrate excellence and achievement in the food and drink industry in the Highlands and Islands.
Chair of the judging panel, Elaine Jamieson, Head of Food and Drink and Life Sciences at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Selecting the winners was a difficult task for the judging panel. The quality of products, the degree of innovation and the drive on sustainability shone through the entries and was really exciting to see. It was particularly positive to see a large number of entries for the eatery categories given the difficult trading conditions during the pandemic and the Awards truly celebrated the return of the region’s hospitality industry. Of course, the backbone of all of this is the people who work in the sector, and the Awards is an important occasion to celebrate them.”
The other award winners were:
- Best Brewed: Windswept Brewing Company – Windswept Brewing Barrel Aged Range
- Best Distilled: Highland Liquor Company – Seven Crofts and Seven Crofts Fisherman’s Strength
- Best Whisky: Tomatin Distillery – Cù Bòcan Single Malt
- Food and Drink Tourism Experience – Downright Gabbler
- Independent Retailer – Bùth Bharraigh
- Supply Chain – Williamson Foodservice
- Eatery – IV10
- Restaurant – Harbour Kitchen
- Young Ambassador – Ella Moxon, Midge Bite Café
- Judges Award – Left Coast Culture