SLTN Awards 2018 | Scottish Licensed Trade News

Scottish Licensed Trade News

SLTN Awards 2018

SLTN Awards 2018

Judging is underway!

The 2018 SLTN Awards will once again celebrate the very best people and places in Scotland’s licensed trade, across more than 20 categories, including Bartender, Beer Quality, Craft Spirits Enthusiast, Gastropub, Independent Pub/Bar, Entrepreneur and Industry Achievement.

Winners will be revealed at the SLTN Awards ceremony at the Hilton Glasgow on Thursday November 1.

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Read SLTN Awards 2018 Entry Brochure


Craft spirit enthusiast

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The Craft Spirits Enthusiast award is open to all individuals with a passion for craft spirits in Scotland.

It will recognise an individual who demonstrates in-depth knowledge of this burgeoning category and shows innovation and creativity when creating drinks using small-batch spirits.

Judges will look for:

  • An extensive knowledge of craft spirit categories, the brands within them and the trends within this sector.
  • The correct use of glassware, premium mixers, fresh fruit, garnishes and ice when serving craft spirits.
  • An innovative approach to developing craft spirit-based cocktails, signature drinks and a willingness to work with new products.
  • Evidence of how you have passed your enthusiasm on in your place of work – have you developed a new drinks list or delivered staff training for colleagues?
  • Evidence of an interest in the category – have you entered cocktail competitions, visited distilleries and extended your reading on the topic?

Concept venue of the year

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This award recognises venues that offer consumers a bespoke and engaging experience around a particular concept. Whether it’s centred around a specific product – maybe you offer an extensive range of gins – or an overarching theme, the winning venue will demonstrate a commitment to a concept that goes above and beyond the standard offering.

Judges will look for:

  • A bespoke and tailored product range (including food and/or drinks) that offers the consumer quality, choice and a point of difference from other outlets.
  • An atmosphere and environment that is aligned with the concept,  whether that’s an integral part of the experience or suitably understated.
  • Branding, promotions and marketing that reinforce the concept at all stages of the customer experience, including in-outlet POS, digital and social media activity.
  • Knowledge and enthusiasm from management and staff to generate continued excitement around, and interest in, the concept.

Beer quality award

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In the Beer Quality Award, Tennent’s and SLTN are looking for those outlets keeping, dispensing and presenting beer to the highest possible standard.

The judges will look for:

  • A full stock of appropriate glassware for each type of beer and knowledge of the impact of incorrect glassware on quality of serve.
  • A good, well-understood, system of glass cleaning, storage and replenishment.
  • Excellence in dispense, good staff knowledge of the pouring and presentation techniques required for the different beers and a consistent delivery of perfectly-presented beer.
  • Understanding of the importance of quality amongst management and staff within the outlet.
  • Excellent cellar management, exemplary cleanliness and appropriate cellar temperature control, including evidence of the processes in place to maintain these.
  • Good staff knowledge of the processes involved in receiving, storing, rotating and changing kegs, etc. for different beers.
  • A well planned bar area designed to help maintain beer quality and ensure the perfect pour every time.
  • Good use of founts to present the beer range to the consumer.

Best outdoor area

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Does your bar, restaurant or hotel deliver a quality al fresco experience? If so, Magners and SLTN want to hear from you. The SLTN Best Outdoor Area award will go to a venue with an outdoor space which has made a real impact on the business.

Judges will consider:

  • Design and function: The outdoor area should demonstrate good use of space, be clean, tidy and well-maintained, and able to comfortably accommodate al fresco drinkers and diners as well as smokers.
  • Innovation: Smart use of the al fresco area for marketing and promotion through, for example, branded parasols or outdoor TV screens.
  • Success: The outdoor space should have made a real impact on the business.

Craft beer award

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Craft beer has taken the trade by storm in recent years and is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing segments of the beer category.

The judges will look for an outlet that demonstates excellence in craft beer, both in terms of its product range and the level of knowledge displayed by its staff.

Judges will seek:

  • A strong variety of craft beer brands and styles on draught and in the fridge.
  • A thorough understanding of the craft beer category, and the benefits it can bring to an outlet’s beer range and sales.
  • Staff that are knowledgeable about the beers they sell, and are able to make recommendations to customers.
  • The ability to deliver the perfect serve for craft beers.
  • Evidence that the outlet has made an effort to tailor its craft beer range to its clientele.

Gastropub of the year

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The SLTN Gastropub of the Year Award will go to a venue that delivers high-end pub food and a quality drinks range to match with first-rate friendly service in a pub environment.

Judges will look for:

  • A menu which brings a contemporary flavour to pub classics and displays a commitment to quality and the use of fresh local, sustainable produce.
  • A comprehensive drinks range designed to match the food offer, including suggested pairings.
  • A commitment to deliver first-class customer service, reflecting ongoing investment in staff training and development.
  • Surroundings and an ambience to match the quality food and drink on offer.

Unsung hero supported by Hugh Stirling

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Are you or do you know someone who has gone the extra mile in Scotland’s licensed trade? Perhaps you, or they, are a member of bar staff who goes above and beyond the call of duty in their day-to-day job. Maybe it’s someone who works tirelessly to raise money for charity. Or perhaps the SLTN Unsung Hero is someone only too willing to lend a hand to a local in need.

The judges will look for someone who:

  • Has gone the extra mile either through their commitment to work or charity in the past year.
  • Goes above and beyond what is expected of them to help others.
  • Uses their position in a licensed trade business to raise money and/or awareness of a charity or local group.

Social responsibility award

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The winner of the Social Responsibility Award will demonstrate best practice in alcohol retailing and will have systems in place to ensure that every part of the operation is run in a socially responsible fashion and that every member of staff understands the outlet’s policies and practice.

Judges will look for:

  • Awareness of and adherence to all requirements under licensing and other laws.
  • Awareness of national and local policies and guidelines from drinks industry organisations, local licensing and other authorities.
  • A robust system to prevent underage drinks purchase and clear communication of the policy.
  • Responsible display, pricing and promotion of alcohol.
  • A clear system for dealing with difficulties that can arise in licensed premises.
  • A monitoring system for incidents and resolutions.
  • Good use, where appropriate, of security technology.
  • Original activities that really drive the social responsibility agenda – what sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Training programmes that ensure staff are aware of their responsibilities and use best practice.
  • Good relationships with local police and bodies like licensing forums.
  • Involvement in local initiatives like Pubwatch and Best Bar None.

Independent multiple operator of the year

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The Independent Multiple Operator of the Year will be a business that consists of four or more bars, restaurants, hotels or nightclubs. Skill and ability in identifying a market opportunity, seeing it through to operational reality and handling all the complexities of multiple site management will be the key characteristics of this award winner.

The Independent Multiple Operator of the Year award, presented in association with Smirnoff, recognises and celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship that defines Scotland’s licensed trade.

Judges will look for:

  • Business Development and Visiom: The award winner will demonstrate a clear understanding of the marketplace, consumer insights, competitor activity and food and drink trends and have a clear vision for their multi-site operation.
  • Business success: Judges will look for evidence of a successful, thriving and sustainable business.
  • Marketing strategy: The judges will look for evidence of creative marketing plans driven from market insight as well as evidence of how marketing campaigns drive commercial success.
  • Staff: Our winner will have well trained, highly engaged staff who understand the business and the consumers the business attracts.
  • Community engagement: Our winner will be active in the community and will demonstrate how they work with local groups and organisations.

Industry Achievement Award supported by Edrington Beam Suntory

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The SLTN Industry Achievement Award 2018, presented in association with Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, will recognise an individual member of the trade who has made a very special contribution.

The most important influences on Scotland’s licensed trade are the people who play their part in it – as owners and entrepreneurs, managers and educators, activists and innovators. Each year we recognise a very special member of the trade.

The judges will look for someone who has made a very special contribution to the Scottish trade

That may be a lifetime spent at the forefront of the industry or in the drinks retailing service of a single community.

It may recognise a major contribution: to the training of young entrants to the industry; to the development of trade bodies; to the promotion and presentation of a local area or of Scotland in general; to the development of an important trade sector, like entertainment, cuisine or visitor attractions; to the significant improvement of standards in the industry; to the enhancement of the image of the trade.

You may propose anyone in the industry who has, in your opinion, made a significant difference – over a full career or over a shorter time.

If you know of someone who has made a major contribution to the development of the industry in Scotland, please play your part in ensuring they receive the recognition they deserve.

Bartender of the year

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Open to all bar staff across Scotland, the SLTN Bartender of the Year category seeks to recognise the creativity, knowledge and passion of the country’s best all-round bartender. We’re looking for someone with the skills, knowledge and desire to make a real difference to enhance the experience of their customers. The perfect presentation of products encourages customers to return for more. This award will recognise a passion for presentation and creativity in the ways in which beer and other drinks can be served and celebrated in pubs.

The Bartender of the Year will:

  • Display great product knowledge and be able to talk confidently about the brands and products they offer.
  • Delight customers by identifying their needs and making recommendations.
  • Demonstrate a passion for, and understanding of, all things beer – from the ingredients to the brewing process.
  • Understand different beer styles and taste profiles and be able to share these with their customers.
  • Share beer knowledge with colleagues and continue to develop their own knowledge through training.
  • Have a good understanding of what can affect the quality of beers, wines, ciders and spirits in the bar and how to manage these factors.
  • Show dedication to the continual improvement of the standards and service offered.
  • Display a commitment to deliver the perfect serve every time by understanding the fruits, glassware and associated components for each serve.

Best soft drinks offer

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Soft drinks is an increasingly important category due to a rise in consumption of non-alcoholic drinks in the on-trade. There’s a growing choice for operators as the market adapts to the trend of craft and artisan soft drinks, which can make it confusing for consumers, so it’s important to select the right products to make your offer as profitable as possible.

SLTN and Vimto Out of Home, which incorporates its best-selling Feel Good Drinks, are looking for an outlet with a clear commitment to offering a full range of soft drinks to suit this broad customer base.


  • For kids
  • Adult premium
  • Frozen
  • Post-mix
  • Soft drinks levy
  • Mocktails

The winning venue will demonstrate a consideration for both families and young adults in every aspect of the drinks offer – from providing a range of fruits and flavours, to menu creation, promotions and communications. The drinks range will also be geared towards the family market, with a strong soft drinks offer to cater for all age groups and which takes account of current trends in the soft drinks sector – such as drinks catering for the health conscious consumer and designated drivers. Consideration of stocking a healthier range of products will also be admirable.

The winning outlet will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of having depth of range, presenting soft drinks in a way that entices the customer and drives engagement together with the importance of stocking premium products in 2018.

Do you go the extra mile with your soft drinks offer?

Gin bar of the year

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Gin has been one of the biggest success stories in recent years – and the category shows no signs of slowing down. There are more gins – including Scottish gins – on the market, more bars stocking a broader range, and more consumers drinking the spirit than ever before.

The SLTN Gin Bar of the Year will demonstrate the following:

  • A broad range of gins covering different styles and countries of origin that meets different budgets and tastes.
  • A strong range of tonics and mixers and an innovative range of serves.
  • The use of glassware and garnishes to enhance the taste and presentation of its gin-based drinks.
  • Well-trained knowledgeable staff with a passion for gin.
  • The successful promotion of gin in marketing material and activities like gin tastings and sampling ‘flights’.
  • The use of gin in the development of the bar’s reputation.

Independent pub/bar of the year

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Independent pubs and bars account for a significant proportion of Scotland’s on-trade, and in sponsoring the SLTN Independent Pub/Bar of the Year award, Carlsberg celebrates the vital role which the free trade holds in Scottish society.

The judges will look for ways in which each operation has adapted and positioned its business proposition to its identified target market, and also assess how responsive the pub operator is to the needs of their consumers. Judges will also take into account the pub’s business strategy and how successful the implementation of that plan has been, in making the outlet both popular and commercially successful.

For the purposes of this award independent pubs and bars are classified as licensed premises which hold a premises licence, and belong to a free trader who owns and operates no more than three outlets.

Judges will consider:

  • Marketing initiatives.
  • Product range.
  • Recruitment, training and motivation of staff.
  • Investment and reinvestment in the business.
  • Customer service – standards and initiatives.
  • Sustainability against new competition.
  • Financial performance.

Best venue to watch the match

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SLTN has joined forces with Sky to look for the best venue to watch the match in. The judges are looking to find those on-trade outlets where events are used as a way of maximising business.

Judges will assess:

  • How live televised sports are used to drive footfall and build an outlet’s reputation as a sports viewing destination.
  • Evidence of commercial success gained through promoting live sport.
  • The promotion of live sport through marketing activity, including social media platforms.
  • Food and drink offers tailored to the sports shown.
  • The overall sports viewing experience, including screen and audio quality.

Entrepreneur of the year

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SLTN and Chivas Regal have joined forces to search for the licensed trade’s most inspiring and successful entrepreneur.

Judges will consider:

  • Consumer insight:  The Entrepreneur of the Year will have identified a genuine gap in the market and turned it into commercial reality. That project will have offered a new experience for consumers in its area and be communicated to them through imaginative marketing methods.
  • Risk-taking:  The winner’s approach to risk will represent a balance between intelligent and grounded commercial insight and a willingness to take bold steps to realise goals. Judges will also look for evidence of the ability to remain focused and resilient in the face of difficulties.
  • Decision-making: Our successful entrepreneur will demonstrate sound decision-making qualities, even under intense pressure. A clear leader, he or she will be a good communicator who is able to inspire others and delegate effectively.
  • Development: The Entrepreneur of the Year will have  excellent project management skills, with the flexibility to re-shape a project if and when circumstances dictate. He or she will also be able to react decisively and creatively to unforeseen challenges as a project develops.

Cocktail bar of the year

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Cocktails provide an excellent opportunity to build on the benefits of premium drinks brands. They help an outlet increase both profitability and consumer appeal. In the Cocktail Bar of the Year award, SLTN and Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands are looking for Scottish bars which make the most effective use of cocktails.

Judges will look for:

  • A good understanding of the venue’s market and the role cocktails can play in that market.
  • Product knowledge – an understanding of brands, mixers, the development of different cocktails and cocktail styles and the ability to mix classic cocktails well and to innovate and experiment.
  • Commitment to bartender training and development.
  • Excellence in customer service combined with confidence and style in mixing and presenting cocktails.
  • Atmosphere conducive to theatre and style in mixing and presenting cocktails.
  • Good commercial use of cocktails, creative marketing and plans for further development of the cocktail offer.
  • Knowledge of ongoing developments in the cocktail scene.

Whisky bar of the year

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SLTN is delighted to embark on the search for Scotland’s Whisky Bar of the Year, in partnership with Glenfiddich.

Scotch whisky is enjoying unprecedented success around the world but the Scottish on-trade remains a vital route to market for the country’s national drink.

The Whisky Bar of the Year will demonstrate:

  • A balanced range of malts, blends and other Scotch and international whiskies that meets a broad spectrum of budgets and tastes.
  • A strong commitment to staff training, with particular emphasis on developing whisky knowledge.
  • The successful promotion of malt in marketing campaigns and activities like whisky and food matching dinners, educational tastings and promotional ‘flights’.
  • The use of whisky in the development of the bar’s reputation, interior design (including space devoted to whisky in outlet) and overall food and drink offer.
  • Successful and innovative promotion of whisky to encourage ideas outside the traditional.

Rum bar of the year

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The SLTN Rum Bar of the Year will recognise a venue with rum at its very heart – from the range stocked and serves offered to the passion of the staff who work there.

Judges will look for:

  • A balanced and varied range of rums covering different styles, budgets and tastes.
  • A broad selection of mixers and an innovative range of serves and cocktails.
  • The use of glassware and garnishes to enhance the taste and presentation of its rum-based drinks.
  • Well-trained knowledgeable staff with a
    passion for rum and the ethos of the category.
  • The successful promotion of rum in marketing material and activities like rum tastings and sampling ‘flights’.

Boutique bar of the year

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In this category SLTN is looking for a bar that offers a top-level proposition across every facet of its business: from design to drinks to customer service.

Judges will look for:

  • A carefully-curated drinks range taking in a cross-section of top quality beers, wines and spirits.
  • A well-designed interior which reflects the premium drinks offer.
  • A strong staff training programme, with particular attention to customer service.
  • A commitment to create a premium experience for customers, from the moment they enter the premises to the moment they leave.

Mixologist of the year

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Sponsored by Absolut vodka and Barnomadics, the SLTN Mixologist of the Year award will recognise the bartender who displays the best overall knowledge of the premium spirits category and demonstrates innovation and creativity when making cocktails.

Judges will look for:

  • An extensive knowledge of spirits categories, the premium brands within them and current drinks trends.
  • The correct use of glassware, premium mixers, fresh fruit, garnishes and ice.
  • Knowledge of the cocktails sector, its heritage, development and place in today’s bars.
  • Good mixology skills, an innovative approach to developing new cocktails and signature drinks, and a willingness to work with new products.
  • Evidence of pushing the boundaries in mixology.
  • Confidence and style when making and presenting cocktails.

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The SLTN Restaurant of the Year award will go to the venue that demonstrates the highest quality
of food and service together with an excellent range of perfectly-served drinks.

The Restaurant of the Year category is split into two divisions.

  • In the fine dining division we’re looking for restaurants where typically a three course dinner (without drinks) from the a la carte menu would cost £40 or more.
  • In the casual dining division we’re looking at those where a three course dinner (without drinks) would cost less than £40.

In each division the judges will look for:

  • Quality: Absolute commitment to the preparation of high quality food.
  • Service: Consistently high standards of service, reflecting investment in staff training.
  • Drinks: A comprehensive and relevant drinks range with attention to detail in how they are served to befit a premium occasion.
  • Atmosphere: Flair, character, ambience – call it what you will – a good restaurant has it.