Public Relations


Kimbland Distillery

June 2023

Reading time: 3 minute(s).


Public relations


To support a disgruntled whisky distiller angry about a rival’s news story making an erroneous historical claim.

Laura and Julie at Strand PR came up with a way of framing our response that gave the publications a new story and gave us the recognition we deserved.

Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde


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It’s not every day we get a phone call from a whisky distiller in Orkney. In fact, we can say with absolute certainty, this was the first time.

Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde, Co-founder and Managing Director of Kimbland Distillery on the isle of Sanday, was looking for help after a rival drinks company had claimed in a press release sent to – and published by – leading trade press and Scottish titles that it was the first distillery in Orkney in 138 years. 

Not true, said Sebastian, who claimed that honour for himself.  

With Kimbland having plans for a round of equity funding, the story could not have come out at a worse time. Could we help, asked Sebastian. 

Sebastian Hadfield-Hyde


Having former journalists on the team is invaluable for times like this when we need a creative approach that will catch the eye of an editor. For the publications that had run the original story, simply pointing out that their facts were wrong and that they had been misinformed wouldn’t have earned us any brownie points from them – or the client. They needed a reason to publish another story about another Orkney distillery without losing face for publishing incorrect information. It wasn’t going to be an easy pitch. 

We had a long chat with Sebastian to gauge the depth of his feelings and to learn more about the history of Kimbland Distillery before we hit on the theme of ‘whisky wars’. It was important to avoid any disparaging comments against the rival distillery – Orkney is a small place and Sebastian does have contact with them – while at the same time giving Kimbland the upper hand in the battle of the booze. 

The rivals’ claim for their place in history was seen as a cheap shot and the resulting release we distributed set the record straight. 

The release was sent to all the publications that had used the original story and other relevant titles. 


The majority of the titles that had published the rivals’ claims picked up Kimbland’s story, others made amendments to the original, and one publication asked for an interview with Sebastian for a future feature.

The release reached an audience in excess of a quarter of a million, with the publicity bolstering Kimbland Distillery’s investment campaign.

Sebastian said: “I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I saw the original story. My instinct was to fire off a strongly worded letter to each of the publications, but there would have been no value in that.

“Laura and Julie at Strand PR came up with a way of framing our response that gave the publications a new story and gave us the recognition we deserved. “Their help was invaluable and turned a negative into a positive.”