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Slainte! Businessman Willie Cameron boosts his Loch Ness ‘living legend’ status after a Black Isle Brewery names an ale after him

By Neil MacPhail

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Willie Cameron on Loch Ness-side with the new ale and model "monster." Pic Peter Jolly
Willie Cameron on Loch Ness-side with the new ale and model "monster." Pic Peter Jolly

A Highland businessman has just had a beer named after him thanks to his outstanding work promoting world famous Loch Ness and its surrounding area for decades.

Willie Cameron has been steeped in Loch Ness and its monster lore since a lad growing up in the area, and he became such a go-to expert in the loch he became known latterly as “Mr Loch Ness.”

Now that title along with a kilted likeness of Willie is proudly emblazoned on cans of Mr Loch Ness IPA, the latest product of Black Isle Brewery, currently based on the Black Isle, but planning a move across the firth to Inverness.

“There can’t be many people that have a beer named after them, and I consider it an honour and a privilege,” said Willie. “One acquaintance I spoke to recently told me ‘Willie, that’s better than being awarded the MBE.’

“The new drink has generated a tremendous amount of interest with around 150 likes online, and apparently there has been great interest from as far away as Australia for the beer.”

He explained that the idea of the new beer first came to his attention before Christmas when he was with Lawrie Wotherspoon of Black Isle Brewery.

The company, like many local businesses before them, were keen to latch on to the Loch Ness name and were looking for some connection or anniversary.

Willie said: “It came up that this month is the 90th anniversary of the famous Surgeon’s Photograph being taken showing something mysterious on the surface of the loch, so the brewery thought it would be a good year to celebrate the Loch Ness story, and because of my involvement with much of that story, one thing led to another.”

The publication of the Surgeon’s Photograph is generally credited with triggering the start of the modern fascination with the loch and the belief by many that there could some creature or phenomena in the water that could lend credence to the legend of “the monster”.

It certainly inspired generations of Nessie Hunters from the 1930’s through to the present day, to visit the area, and according to reports the number of visitors flocking to the area bring in more than £40m to the local economy each year.

"Mr Loch Ness" Willie Cameron, left, with Lawrie Wotherspoon of Black Isle Brewery with the special beer. Pic Peter Jolly
"Mr Loch Ness" Willie Cameron, left, with Lawrie Wotherspoon of Black Isle Brewery with the special beer. Pic Peter Jolly

Brewery boss Lawrie said: “Willie was the clear choice to promote the beer’s production as it brings two local legends together.

“There is no-one better placed to tell the Loch Ness story than Willie, known affectionately as Mr Loch Ness both within the Highlands and all over the globe.

“Willie has been at the forefront of promoting the Highlands’ wonderful history, hospitality, food and drink to thousands of visitors over the past three decades, through countless films, publications and talks.”

Willie added: “It was both an honour and a privilege to have been asked by Lawrie at Black Isle Brewery if they could use my Mr Loch Ness title for the new IPA which is both organic and gluten free and reflects the genuine taste of The Highlands.

“As I have been associated with tourism at Loch Ness for many years it is both a toast to this iconic area and a reflection on my contribution to my community. It also goes down very well with some good Highland cheeses.”

Willie is a founding director of marketing for Visit Loch Ness, founding director of the Cobbs Group with its tourism interests including hotels in the area, and has played an important part in the promotion of food and drink, hospitality and film development, both in the Highlands and in Scotland.

He is also the founder and sole proprietor of Loch Ness Marketing founded in 1994 as a service company to TV and media and Highland tourism.

For his contribution, he was awarded Highland Tourism Ambassador in 2005, and in 2014 with his fellow directors, took Cobbs to being judged Highland Business of the Year.

In 2019 Visit Scotland awarded Willie The Silver Thistle -for his services and contribution to Scottish Tourism

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