Shunning the rather more traditional shed contents of rusty gardening equipment, old damp boxes and several bike parts that will never again see the light of day, an inspiring project in the Scottish Highlands housing a piano bar and gin distillery has won 2015 Shed of the Year.
Encouraging unassuming outbuildings everywhere to up their game, the four-room Inshriach Distillery in Aviemore began life as a rundown hen house before Walter Micklethwait, girlfriend Lizzy Westman and business partner Jonathan Engels transformed the space into a unique party venue over two years, using scrap timber and materials salvaged from the tip, including components from an old railway station.
To further stoke our love of beautiful, innovative and creative small spaces, the shed now features a farm shop selling vintage clothing, food, postcards and hand-carved items, a ‘ladies’ waiting room’ complete with piano and comfy armchairs, a Wild West-themed saloon bar and the distillery, which produces Crossbill gin made from the Scottish juniper local to the area.
Inshriach claimed victory after seeing off competition from a record-breaking 2,520 entries, winning £1,000 and £100 worth of products from the competition's sponsor Cuprinol, as well as a plaque and an actual crown to perch on the roof.
Walter, 36, said: "We were up against some proper craftsmen, brilliant eccentrics and most of all a really nice bunch of people so it is an absolute honour to have won Shed of the Year 2015. A huge thanks to everyone who voted for us. We're now looking forward to celebrating with a gin from the distillery in our shed!" The most appropriate celebratory tipple, of course.
The winner was revealed at the weekend during the final episode of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year, with the public vote eventually deciding who came out on top after the competition’s judges were in deadlock over Inshriach and Owl House, an eco shed in Merseyside with a living grass roof.
The judging panel comprised of founder of the competition Andrew Wilcox (better known as Uncle Wilco) 2014 winner Joel Bird, presenter George Clarke and the Amazing Spaces team of craftsman William Hardie, architect Laura Clark and industrial designer Max McMurdo.
Uncle Wilco said of the deadlock: "Picking the winner was no mean feat, with a record breaking number of entries [and] the calibre of sheds has been incredible making this the biggest and best competition to date. Walter's Inshriach Distillery epitomises the competition's ethos of a shed being a reflection of a person's personality, passion and creativity."
After winning the pub category in May, taking them into the final, Walter mused: "Perhaps the nature of our business - hospitality and gin - gave us an advantage with the public vote." A business we have no trouble getting on board with.
The property is part of the Edwardian Inshriach House estate, but sadly is not open to the general public – though according to the Crossbill website, there will be a mini Gin Festival in August "due to popular demand".