Borders pubs ranked among best bar none at national award ceremony

Michelle Mackay, John Ferguson, Gillian Thomson and Roddy Mackay of the Central bar in Peebles at this week's Scottish Bar and Brew Awards.
Michelle Mackay, John Ferguson, Gillian Thomson and Roddy Mackay of the Central bar in Peebles at this week's Scottish Bar and Brew Awards.

Two Borders pubs have proved themselves to be among the best bar none at a national award ceremony.

Rutherfords in Kelso and the Central Bar in Peebles were among the winners at the inaugural Scottish Bar and Brew Awards, held yesterday, Sepember 30, at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.

Audrey Anderson of Rutherfords in Kelso at this week's Bar and Brew Awards.

Audrey Anderson of Rutherfords in Kelso at this week's Bar and Brew Awards.

Rutherfords was named south east pub of the year and the Central Bar took the prize for best south east bar.

The Kelso bar, Scotland’s only micropub selling real ale, was opened in the Square four years ago by husband-and-wife team Simon and Debbie Rutherford.

The couple didn’t attend this week’s ceremony, sending along instead their bar host, Audrey Anderson.

Debbie said: “Audrey is such a great asset to the pub, so we invited her to attend on our behalf as a treat, and the cherry on the cake was that we won. She had a great night.

“I think the award recognises that we are something different. It was a risk setting up a bar which is so different, with no TV screens or sport showing, but people seem to love it.

“It’s a place where you can go along for a chat and drink something a little bit different.”

Roddy Mackay, 61, took over at the Central Bar in Northgate in 2006.

He said: “About three weeks ago, we found out that we had been nominated by a customer.

“We were told that we had made the top 10, and I went along with my daughter Michelle and a couple of members of staff without any particular expectations.

“Our category was the last to be announced, by which time we had enjoyed a lovely meal and had had a few drinks. It was a great night.”

As a bonus, the bar got a mention on air by BBC Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox.

“Michelle had sent her a message and she gave us a mention, which was lovely too,” Roddy added.

Irfan Younis, chief executive officer of event organiser Creative Oceanic, a Glasgow-based marketing firm, said: “Although in its first year, we received a fantastic response from the public.

“This industry has grown massively over the past year, and we aimed to reward those who have managed to make a real difference by providing fantastic drinks and great hospitality.

“The winners are an outstanding example of excellence, whose dedication to be the best has made them stand out.

“We would like to congratulate all finalists and winners for their amazing achievements.”

The Borders’ other finalists were Niki’s Bar and the Salmon Inn in Galashiels, the Cobbles and the Border Hotel in Kelso, the Neidpath Inn and County Hotel in Peebles, the Fleece Bar and Kitchen in Selkirk, Jedburgh’s Belter’s Bar and the Mayfield Bar in Hawick, along with the now-closed Plough Inn at Lilliesleaf.