AN Orkney gin company which opened its premises to visitors just over a year ago is celebrating after achieving its Five Star Quality Assurance award from VisitScotland at its first grading visit.

The Orkney Distillery and Visitor Centre, situated on Kirkwall’s harbour front, is the home of Kirkjuvagr Orcadian gin.

In the short time it has been open, the small team has hosted thousands of people on tours of the centre, developed and launched four brand new gins and hosted a number of events ranging from the St Magnus International Festival to an evening with the Consul General of Japan.

Its 11 staff – headed up by operations manager Katie Macleod – run the distillery and offer tours twice a day for gin enthusiasts from around the world.

Macleod said: “We are extremely proud that we have achieved this Five Star award. We try and provide an exceptional experience for everyone visiting the distillery and this recognition is brilliant for the team.

“It will hopefully help people to find us and we look forward to welcoming more visitors over the coming year.”

Lee Inkster, VisitScotland industry relationship manager for Orkney, said: “I am thrilled that the team at Orkney Distilling have achieved the coveted Five Stars so quickly.

“Food and drink are a key part of the visitor experience and visitors spend around 20% of their expenditure on both, so the distillery is a marvellous addition to Orkney’s visitor offering.

“Achieving this status demonstrates that Katie and her team have put in a tremendous effort to provide a very high level of service to their guests, and I would like to congratulate them for that.

“Gin and its associated distilleries are fast becoming a popular attraction for our visitors, keen to experience – and take away – an authentic and locally-produced drink.

“I hope their success is an inspiration to others to strive for a Five Star award, which helps to promote these beautiful islands.”

The distillery offers guided tours with opportunities to learn about the gin-making process, see the production up close and sample gins while overlooking Kirkwall harbour.

The gin-making experience allows visitors to craft their own gin recipe under the guidance of their distiller.

Earlier this year, the distillery entered the Great Taste 2019 Awards, which recognises high quality food and drink producers. Two of their gins – Aurora Gin and Kirkjuvagr Gin – were awarded Great Taste badges.

Developed over the last four decades, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes are world-leading. Quality assurance stars alongside online reviews give visitors a balance of objective and subjective views to assist in their decision making and expectations.