It was a year that began with the worst winter weather for decades - and brought a glorious late summer. It saw ash cloud disruption at our airports but record numbers for the Edinburgh International Festival. It brought setbacks in sport, but also successes; a white knuckle ride for Scottish business - but progress in adversity.
Seldom has that quality of resilience so deeply embedded in the spirit of Scotland been more in evidence - and certainly seldom more in need. Whether in the categories of Writing, Art, Music, Screen, Environment, Business, Sport or Food, Scots have scored notable advances and achievements.
Over the years, the Spirit of Scotland awards have marked outstanding successes in different fields of endeavour.
The roll-call of winners since 1998 now reads like a "Who's Who" of the best of Scotland. Overall Spirit of Scotland winners have included JK Rowling, the British Curling Team, Ian Rankin, Chris Hoy and last year the woman whose voice went round the world - Susan Boyle.
Over the years, the awards have played an important role, not only in bringing Scottish achievement to wide attention but also in recognising up and coming talent that has gone on to win international acclaim.
In 2001 JK Rowling scooped the Top Scot Award - the same year that her first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was released. 'JK' has now become a global phenomenon.
Ewan McGregor won the Scotland Screen Award in 2003 and is now a household name world wide. In 2006 Paolo Nutini won a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Music, aged just 19. And now he is back as a music nominee for 2010.
Several of the nominees for the 2010 awards have already attained international recognition - Chris Paterson, whose golden boot has scored so many points for Scotland in international rugby, Richard Demarco in the world of art and Sir Bill Gammell, whose company Cairn Energy has achieved further outstanding success in a year that did not go well at all for some other oil companies.
In what has been by any standards a challenging year, the list of nominees is all the more distinctive for the resilience it shows. It is a quality that goes with true talent, and which makes these awards all the more commendable.
For the 13th year running, Scotsman Publications has joined forces with Glenfiddich, the world's most award-winning single malt Scotch whisky, to give readers the chance to vote in the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards.
This unique awards scheme is your chance to single out the Scots who make us proud: the individuals who aim to exceed all expectations in their chosen fields and are pioneering new developments across Scotland's rich cultural and commercial spectrum. This year you can vote for nominees in the fields of Food, Music, the Environment, Screen, Art, Business, Writing and Sport. The contenders in each category have been shortlisted by the Awards judging panel but it is over to you to decide the winners.
Receiving a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award is now one of the country's most sought-after tributes - made all the more important because the final winners are selected not by an elite few, but by you, the people of Scotland. Last year, readers cast their votes by the thousand for winners including actor Peter Capaldi, author Ian Rankin and world-record breaking shinty player Ronald Ross.
In the coming weeks The Scotsman Magazine will profile the four shortlisted individuals in each of the Awards categories, all keen to receive your votes.
In the final week, you can vote for the Top Scot Award, an open category where you can choose the Scot you believe has made the greatest impact in furthering Scotland's reputation at home and abroad this year.
The consulting panel includes: John McLellan (Scotsman editor), Sally Gordon (Glenfiddich), Peter Irvine (Unique Events), Fiona Bradley (Fruitmarket Gallery), Celia Stevenson, David Sole, Stuart Nisbet (Unique Events), and correspondents from The Scotsman newspaper.
Wherever there is excellence and achievement, the Spirit of Scotland awards are there to recognise and celebrate the individuals who help make this nation great
How to vote: To vote in the Awards simply complete the entry coupon or vote online at www.glenfiddich.com/spirit
Vote to win Voting in this year's Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards not only gives you a say in who should pick up a gong, it also gives you the chance to win an inspiring prize.
Our top prize is a pioneering visit for two to The Glenfiddich Distillery, including luxury accommodation and the opportunity to try a new experience. The winner will stay at the beautiful Meldrum House country hotel and golf club in scenic Oldmeldrum, enjoying fabulous cuisine and relaxing in the hotel's stunning contemporary rooms. They will be taken on a personalised VIP tour of Glenfiddich - including a nosing and tasting masterclass with the chance to sample the Glenfiddich range of single malts including Glenfiddich 12, 15, 18 and 21-year-old. Finally, they can select an outdoor experience to try from a range of activities.
The combination of Meldrum House's stylish, luxurious rooms and acclaimed restaurant with Glenfiddich's historic distillery showcasing whisky-making at its best will make for the most memorable of winter breaks.
PLUS 20 runners-up can raise a glass to mark this year's Awards with a bottle of award-winning Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12-Year-Old, the world's favourite single malt.
NOMINEES - FOOD
Mac Mackie & family
Mackie's of Scotland
The Aberdeenshire business synonymous with luxury ice cream, and now potato crisps, aims to become "a global Scottish brand from the greenest company in Britain created by people having fun". In its first year the crisp range (which includes Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper and Flamegrilled Aberdeen Angus flavours) won Product of the Year 2010 in Scotland's Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
Victor & Carina Contini
Restaurateurs Victor and Carina Contini have applied their inspiring combination of business acumen and commitment to fresh food to a series of ventures, the most recent being The Scottish Caf & Restaurant at The National Gallery of Scotland. Specialising in traditional Scottish dishes and artisan Scottish produce, the Scottish Caf has added a new element to the Continis' portfolio which includes the enormously popular Italian restaurant Centotre and neighbourhood style diner, Zanzero.
Roy Brett has added a new dimension to Edinburgh's culinary scene with the opening of his seafood restaurant, Ondine, last year. Raising the standard for sustainable sourcing of ingredients, Ondine was the first independent restaurant in Scotland to be accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council. Roy focuses on fresh and inspired dishes, earning the eatery a host of accolades including The List Newcomer of the Year 2010 and Roy the title of CIS Excellence Awards Chef of the Year 2010.
Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier, is the premier chocolatier in Scotland. His products have achieved numerous awards including three gold stars in the national Great Taste Awards 2010. He was trained under Master Chocolatiers of the Belgian, Swiss and French Schools and Iain's chocolates, including truffles, pralines, sculptures and Velvet Truffle, are made at his creative kitchen studio in Grandtully, Perthshire. Clients include top chef Albert Roux, Gleneagles and Harvey Nichols.
NOMINEES - SPORT
In February 2010, Chris Paterson became the first Scot to achieve 100 rugby caps for his country. A highly versatile player, capable of playing almost anywhere on the back line, Chris is widely regarded as the best goal kicker in world rugby and only the second Scot in history to score over 600 points for his country. He won the Gilbert Golden Boot for the best kicking percentage in the Magners League 2009/10. Following a serious kidney injury, he's now fully fit and returns to the fray in season 2010/11.
Alastair Kellock made such a favourable impression on his arrival at Glasgow Warriors in 2005 that he was appointed captain. Having played for Scotland in under-19 and under-21 international rugby he made his first Six Nations Championship appearance in 2006. In 2009 he led Scotland to glory against Australia and in both victories on Scotland's two Test tours of Argentina. He made history in the process by captaining the first Scottish side to win a Test series in the southern hemisphere.
West Lothian triathlete, Catriona Morrison, is Scotland's iron woman. Excelling in endurance events which combine distance running, cycling and swimming, Catriona won the 2010 ITU World Duathtlon Championship held in Edinburgh in September. Unbeaten in any triathlon/duathlon race this season, Catriona's many sporting accolades include achieving the world's fastest ironman distance debut time. When not training or competing, Catriona visits local schools to promote sport to young people.
Leven Brown & Don Lennox
In June, Scots Leven Brown and Don Lennox were part of the team that smashed the longest standing speed record in history - the transatlantic rowing record that stood for 114 years. Endurance yachtsmen Brown (skipper) and Lennox (team medic), alongside Ray Carroll (Ireland) and Livar Nysted (Faroe Islands), took their 23ft ocean rowing boat from New York to the Isles of Scilly in 43 days, breaking the 55-days record.
• This article was first published in The Scotsman on October 09, 2010