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Aberdeenshire whisky shop toasts 5 star national tourism rating

12/08/2022
Left to Right: David Jackson (VisitScotland Regional Director) and Daniel Milne (Managing Director, Still Spirit).

AN Aberdeenshire whisky shop and tasting room has been awarded VisitScotland’s highest Quality Assurance (QA) grading at its first-ever visit.

Still Spirit – set in a stunning location on the outskirts of Pitmedden, near Ellon, and part of Whisky Hammer, one of the world’s leading online whisky auction houses – has been awarded the national tourism organisation’s 5 Star Tourist Shop award, despite only joining the QA scheme in August 2021. It is one of only three 5* tourist shops in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Staff moved into the shop, which also has an online presence, in September 2020, though due to the pandemic it only opened properly in the new year 2021. Over the last 12 months, Still Spirit has been offering both private and public tasting events suited to every budget and party size, attended by brand ambassadors and whisky experts.

Sessions have included a collaboration with Meat Monsters smokehouse in Ellon, with traditional Speyside malt Benromach being paired with five different smokehouse meats. A small, decked area outside the store means customers can enjoy a dram in the surrounding countryside on a summer’s evening.

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A new warehouse is currently being developed on the site which will house 2,000 casks of whisky, due to be ready to buy by the end of the year. With visitors coming from as far afield as India and Hong Kong, it means they can see the warehouse, taste the whisky and buy a bottle or cask direct from the warehouse.

The shop sells a wide variety of whiskies from across Scotland as well as other fine spirits, including gin, rum, vodka and tequila, and in the fully-stocked take-away dram bar, some old and rare drams can be found.

VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance Scheme has been refreshed in line with the changing landscape, and in consultation with industry, to continue to provide a trusted, relevant and impartial source of information for visitors, as well as the businesses taking part. 

VisitScotland has recently undertaken a pilot programme of visits to test the new procedures, health and safety protocols and risk assessments which have been introduced since the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a key first step towards the return of in-person grading visits for all members, which will resume later this year. 

Daniel Milne, Managing Director at Still Spirit, said: “To be awarded such a high ranking in a short space of time is a fantastic achievement. We’ve built a wonderful and knowledgeable team at Still Spirit whose passion to create a quality destination for whisky enthusiasts sees visitors travel from far and wide.”

“As a fairly young business, we’re always looking for ways to improve our offering and give customers the best possible experience in store and at our dram bar. The 5 Star rating from VisitScotland is a welcome acknowledgement that we’re moving in the right direction as a business and helping to strengthen tourism in the local area in the process.”

David Jackson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “I would like to congratulate Daniel and the team at Still Spirit for their well-deserved achievement. They are providing a world-class tourist shop, which is reflected in their 5 Star award.”

“I hope the success of Still Spirit sets an example to other businesses to join the scheme, which benefits tourism businesses and visitors alike. It is vital that everyone involved in tourism works together to offer visitors a fantastic experience when visiting and staying in Aberdeenshire, to strengthen our tourism offering.”

“Our Quality Assurance scheme can help us drive up standards across the industry, effectively setting expectations and providing reassurance for visitors to Scotland. Our Stars represent world class excellence – helping businesses demonstrate they care about quality and enabling visitors to make informed choices.”

For more information, visit www.stillspirit.co.uk or @stillspiritudny on Instagram.

For more information on VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme, please visit: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/visitor-experience/quality-assurance-ratings

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