23-year-old Distiller wins Inspirational Young Person Award

Craig Chambers and his award

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CRAIG Chambers, a Distiller at Dunnet Bay Distillers based in Thurso, has won NFU Mutual’s Inspirational Young Person Award.  

The award, which is in its fourth year, was launched by the commercial insurer in partnership with industry body Scotland Food and Drink, seeking to uncover inspirational examples of talented 16 to 26-year-olds who own, work or study in the food and drink sector. The award aims to highlight not only the enormous contribution that young people make to Scotland’s food and drink businesses, but also the importance of the sector to the wider economy. 

First-place winner Craig began his career with Dunnet Bay Distillers when he was 18. Originally a tour guide, Craig headed off to University to obtain a degree in Brewing and Distilling, from which he secured a position as Distiller. Craig thrived in this role and identified improvements to the businesses processes, represented the brand at events and helped create new recipes designed to reduce energy consumption during distilling by 90%, which helped the business maintain the original price point for customers as energy prices increased. 

Described as a brilliant ambassador for the drinks industry, Craig is respected by those around him for his knowledge, passion and for his huge contributed to the success of Dunnet Bay Distillers. 

Craig will receive a trophy and £500 cash prize in recognition of his first-place award. 

Having originally intended to select a top three, the judges found the quality of this year’s applications too hard to separate, and ultimately decided to recognise 1st, 2nd and two highly commended winners. 

Alongside Craig, winners included: Diarmaid McCann, 20-year-old founder of Blaze Spirits (2nd place); Hollie McNeil, 25-year-old owner of Pretty Little Cakes (highly commended) and Ethan O’Hare, 20-year-old Apprentice Chef at WeeCOOK (highly commended).

Craig Chambers, this year’s first place winner said: “I am delighted to be presented this award, it’s been a great first year working as a distiller.  I have to thank Martin and Claire for putting my name forward.  I am heading off to Argentina in November to work at a whisky distillery out there for six months so the money will be going towards that. I’ll maybe squeeze a few celebratory beers out of it as well!”

Mark McBrearty, NFU Mutual Regional Manager: “Selecting a winner and two runners up from the high quality of entries this year was too difficult, which is why we decided on an additional award. I am delighted to be congratulating Craig, Diarmaid, Hollie and Ethan! All four have not only done themselves proud, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for our world-famous food and drink industry.”

“I was particularly impressed by how each of them has shown a great deal of passion and dedication in their chosen fields. I feel confident that the sector is in safe hands if they are just some examples of the young people coming forward within the wonderful range of food and drink firms in Scotland.|

“A huge congratulations to our fantastic winners and a big thank you to everyone involved!”

John Davidson, Deputy Chief Executive & Strategy Director at 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.” 

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