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Oscars Goody Bag Serves Stars a Taste of Scotland

When Oscars nominees get their opulent goody bags ahead of Sunday’s ceremony they can expect a taste of Scotland.

Organic vegan chocolates from a west coast peninsula and gin from the mountains in the east will be packaged up for 25 celebrity recipients.

Fetcha Chocolates and The Gin Bothy created special products for the event.

And despite paying to give away their products, both companies say it is their most exciting promotion yet.

LA-based Distinctive Assets’ annual “Everybody Wins” gift bags will be given to the contenders for five of the main categories – best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress and best director.

These non-affiliated rewards have become prominent features of the Oscars week – the official ceremony on 10 March – after the official bags stopped amid questions over tax almost 20 years ago.

Not all eligible nominees will collect their haul of treats, gathered in several suitcases and normally worth in excess of $100,000 (£79,000), perhaps because their contents have to be declared as earnings.

There have been a few controversies about the contents in past years, but the marketing company now tries to promote more diverse companies led by women or minorities.

The two Scottish brands included this year are female-led.

When Fiona McArthur started to make chocolate from her friend’s kitchen in 2020 she dreamed of seeing them in the famous Oscars goody bag.

She was working in a sweet shop and created Fetcha Chocolates after customers kept requesting dairy free and gluten free treats.

“I started making and haven’t looked back,” she told BBC Scotland News. Her shop in Campbeltown opened in 2021.

The following year a message from Distinctive Assets asking if she would like to design a box of chocolates took Fiona by surprise.

She took the plunge this year by creating her awards collection featuring chocolates inspired by some of the biggest films of the year – Barbie, Oppenheimer, Maestro, Poor Things, The Holdovers and Killers of the Flower Moon.

“I don’t know how they found me,” Fiona admitted. “My whole brand is luxury chocolates, eco-friendly and allergy friendly so I assume they searched for those things and maybe found me that way.

“I still had to pay for it,” she added. “It has been the best money I’ve spent on the business, since it has resulted in a lot of worldwide attention and a boost in my orders during a normally quiet time of year.

“It’s been super exciting. When I was designing the logo for the business initially, I wanted it nice so it could be in these gift bags, so I cannot believe we are where we are.”

Online sales have almost quadrupled, she said, and her shop is attracting customers travelling more than three hours from the nearest big city – Glasgow.

Meanwhile Kim Cameron from The Gin Bothy in Glamis, Angus, took a more proactive approach to getting her bottles to the stars.

The nearby Turin Castle had offered a stay at their hotel for of the goody bag one year, so she decided to try her luck with the US marketing company.

“They liked the brand, they liked the story, the fact we hand number and hand batch, and we can make an exclusive batch for the Oscars,” Kim told BBC Scotland News.

Her pitch was successful and she was asked to make 25 exclusive bottles for the nominees.

She said it was a “game changer” for a small independent Scottish producer to be on that world stage and it was incredible to be taking her bothy – a “home in the hills” – to Hollywood hills.

Kim said: “It’s a great opportunity to showcase a Scottish brand over there.

“Gin now outsells whisky in Scotland, and who would have ever thought that. It’s a huge industry in Scotland.”

Her rural business began with homemade jam but at her mum’s suggestion, Kim followed in the tradition of making raspberry gin from leftover juice.

Soon her drinks started to outsell her preserves and the company grew to 19 employees – all women. The Gin Bothy Experience followed and now has a shop, events space and a museum dedicated to the history of bothies.

It was the feedback of American visitors to Glamis that pushed the business to launch in the US, where their Original Bothy Gin and Gunshot Gin are the top selling products.

“The Original Gin is similar to the one we have distilled for the Oscars nominees,” she said. “Our Gunshot Gin looks like a whisky but you drink it neat on ice, so it sits really well with their market.”

She said customers are willing to spend up to 30% more on a Scottish product because of the quality.

“We take our natural environment for granted. We have some of the best fruit, we have the purest water, the air,” Kim said.

“Our gin is 100% naturally sugar free, we’ve got heather, milk thistle, scot’s pine, rosemary – all ingredients from the mountain – and we underestimate the passion that Americans and international visitors have for that provenance and quality.”

“It’s the quality, the tradition, the handmade skill that I believe make Scottish food and drink some of the best in the world.”

When it comes to big night on Sunday, her team have each made a cocktail recipe to celebrate.

“We’re not going to the Oscars, but I’ll definitely be raising a glass,” Kim added.

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