Sue Says

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As I write this I’m just about to head off to Islay for the re-opening of Neil Morrison’s Lochside Hotel. I think he thought he was on Grand Designs… trying to refurbish 12 bedrooms, a restaurant and whisky bar in 7 weeks! But I am sure it will have been worth all the stress. Next month we’ll have a design feature on the new look hotel…

buchanan_optCongrats to Sue Buchanan (left) she will be the next female President of the BEN. Only it’s forth, as Angus Meldrum pointed out to me the other night. The first was the lovely Audrey McCrudden, I followed in her footsteps in 2004 and then Sue Allen was next. Obviously, Audrey apart, we all have one thing in common…our names! I’m sure Sue will enjoy her tenure.

At a dinner recently I was trying to persuade Paul Waterson to be more positive about the licensed trade in general. He asked me “What do you want me to do, lie?” That’s not what I want him to do, but perhaps it is time the SLTA focussed, at least 50% of the time, on people who are ARE seeing their businesses grow. I kept putting forward various names of people who were doing well, but he kept saying “well they are not really licensees they are restaurateurs!” So if you are good at selling food too, that doesn’t make you a licensee? Perhaps it is time for a new organisation made up of forward thinking on-trade entrepreneurs who will really fly the flag for the trade?

I took a wee road trip to Aberlour and Rothes recently to see two hotels, The Station in Rothes and The Dowans in Aberlour. I have to say the quality of both hotels was outstanding. I also hear that the owner of the Craigellachie Hotel is planning on replicating its Copper Dog pub in Dubai…with staff from the pub going out to get the pub up and running. It will be opening at the end of March… I wonder whether I could squeeze in a visit to Dubai for a design feature?

We ran our Whisky Speed Tasting event at Oran Mor recently. It was the first one we have done for a while, but as usual it was great to get feedback from our guests. There is nothing better than someone saying “I didn’t think I liked whisky, but I really enjoyed that…. Now I’ll order it at the bar!”

Next month we launch our 2016 awards, our 21st event. Time has certainly flown in!