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Winner Food and Drink Innovation at the Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2015

PUBLISHED: 00:30 11 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:16 15 September 2015

Silent Pool: Ian McCulloch, Keith Lee, James Shelbourne, Christine Howard, Ian Blyth, Steven Kavanagh

Silent Pool: Ian McCulloch, Keith Lee, James Shelbourne, Christine Howard, Ian Blyth, Steven Kavanagh

Pete Gardner Photography

Whether it was a new product or concept, the nominees for this category were those who had really got people talking by thinking outside the box and creating something new.

Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2015Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2015

Sponsored by Mandolay Hotel

Winner: Silent Pool Distillery

“Ian has created a product that Surrey can be truly proud of,” said judge Christine Howard. “The Silent Pool Gin bottle is stunningly beautiful and captures an old Surrey story about the maid drowning in Silent Pool when Bad King John made “improper” advances towards her.

The ingredients of the gin also tell a botanical story of Surrey. The thought that has gone into creating the flavours to make a local Surrey gin is extremely clever. I am not a gin drinker but I have many locals who are and several of them have told me how much they rate the flavour.

The gin is now stocked on P&O cruise liners and many top bars in London so it is really starting to put Surrey on the map. The clever symbiotic relationship with the local vineyards, diversifying into grappa and schnapps and vodka makes good business sense and continues to extend the range of local Surrey products.

At every level of the business, great thought has gone into the look and feel of the place. The still was bought not only for its functionality but also to look good. Even special lighting was specified to enhance visitors’ impressions of the place when they visited.

The storage canisters could have just been the usual round ones with dust collecting in the corners but Ian went to great lengths to get beautifully designed stainless steel square ones, which are as much art as engineering.

Not only this but Ian and his team have created a new business from a derelict farm building in the Surrey countryside and created several new jobs - and all this during one of the deepest recessions in history. His enthusiasm and passion for the project can’t help but win you over.

Highly commended: Tinder Box

Highly commended: Surrey Spice

Find out more about the finalists.

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