Ardshiel owners pick up prestigious whisky prize

Marion McKinnon and Flora Grant after learning of their awards win. 
Marion McKinnon and Flora Grant after learning of their awards win. 

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The Ardshiel Hotel’s owners picked up one of just 20 prizes at a prestigious awards ceremony dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the hospitality industry.

Marion McKinnon and Flora Grant were awarded the Deanston Whisky Guru of the Year accolade at the 2020 Scottish Bar and Pub Awards which, this year, blazed a trail by going virtual for the first time in 25 years.

Hundreds of industry operators, staff and members of the public tuned in to the live broadcast on Wednesday November 25.

A record 9,000 people voted and the host, showbiz journalist Beverley Lyons, presented the awards, with unsuspecting recipients surprised by a knock at the door and a socially distanced congratulations from one of the awards team.

The awards are organised by the publishers of DRAM magazine who, this year, were determined to honour the ‘fighting spirit and resilience’ of the people that make up Scotland’s hospitality industry during this ‘heavy Covid weather’ as well as their ‘all-round excellence’.

Speaking to the Courier after the Ardshiel’s win, office manager Amanda Grant said: ‘For Flora and Marion to be nominated for this new category is a great achievement in itself, especially when you read the description: Are you passionate about all things whisky, with a bold and industrious spirit? Do you love to share your whisky knowledge with your colleagues and customers, but dare to do things a bit differently?

‘To me this definition is written with them both in mind and totally ‘gets’ everything they are about.

‘I could not be prouder of them being acknowledged for everything they do. This has been a challenging year for all and the hospitality industry continues to be hit hard.

‘Hat’s off to everyone involved at Scottish Bar and Pub Awards who made this year’s virtual awards night such a success. We are looking forward to being able to celebrate properly.’

Flora said: ‘This is a fantastic category to be included in and I am overwhelmed to receive this award. Thank you to all our staff and customers for their continued support.’

Marion added: ‘I’m really pleased. It’s great to finish off this year with something to celebrate.’

Susan Young, event organiser and DRAM publisher, said: ‘I take my hat off to everyone in this industry who has worked night and day to keep pubs and restaurants open safely and responsibly and people in jobs despite the day-to-day challenges of Covid.

‘I wanted these awards to not only honour the finalists and the winners but everyone in Scottish hospitality that makes it such a great industry be part of and support – and that is what happened. It was the shot in the arm our industry badly needed. Here’s to the next 25 years.’