An enterprising plant scientist and master distiller with links to the James Hutton Institute and Abertay University has been chosen as one of Farmers Weekly’s first-ever Rising Stars.
At just 35, PhD student Kirsty Black manages Arbikie Distilling Ltd, a company she helped set up from scratch, and her beers – produced in collaboration with Barney’s Beer - have been chosen as Edinburgh Science Festival selections for the last three years running.
Originally a Biological Sciences graduate from Edinburgh University, Kirsty obtained an MSc in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University and is now pursuing a PhD degree at Abertay University and the James Hutton Institute in Dundee.
“I started at Arbikie Distillery when it was an empty shed and have helped take it from zero to being widely distributed across the UK, by building a modern innovative distillery and producing award winning spirits that people want to buy,” Kirsty said.
The new Farmers Weekly Rising Star aspires to revolutionise the UK alcohol industry in the UK from the field up.
Kirsty added: “The alcohol industry is very important economically in the UK, being worth nearly £40 billion in sales but this, in turn, has resulted in such a huge area of our arable land being used to grow malting barley, heavily reliant on inorganic fertilisers.
“I’d like to see a wider variety of crops being grown – hopefully by valorising legumes through the alcohol and aquaculture industries they will become a more attractive crop to grow. I would hope that my research into intercropping confirms that legume supporting cropping systems are a viable alternatively to inorganic fertilisers and becomes adopted into mainstream farming.
“I feel honoured to be chosen as one of the 2017 Rising Stars by the judges. My PhD through Abertay University and the James Hutton Institute gives the unique opportunity for normally separate disciplines to cross paths – this results in the unique combination of agroecologists working with zymologists working with distillers and brewers – a combination which is forever producing new and novel ideas.”