Cider makers toast success in all-Ireland awards

Twenty major awards including almost 17 golds were won by Northern Ireland companies in the region’s best ever performance in the annual Blas na hEireann Irish National Food Awards 2016.

Two local cider companies – Tempted? from Lisburn and Craigavon’s Mac Ivors – shared the Best Artisan Award sponsored by Bord Bia, the Republic of Ireland’s food body. It was the first time that this award was shared in the competition, now in its ninth year, and the only it has come to Northern Ireland.

The two companies also shared the Best New Product Award – Tempted? for its recently launched Elderflower Cider and Mac Ivors for Plum and Ginger cider. Northern Ireland’s reputation as Ireland’s most successful region for cider was further demonstrated by a gold award for Armagh Cider Company’s Doyle’s Summer Fruit. And Loughgall’s Long Meadow gained silver for its Blossom Burst cider.

Tempted and Mac Ivors also shared the Best in Ulster Award.

Michele Shirlow, Food NI chief executive, congratulated the Northern Ireland companies on their success, saying: “This is another marvellous endorsement of the premium quality and originality of our food and drink. It’s a tremendous boost for our already successful Year of Food and Drink.

“It’s great to see so many of our companies, particularly smaller enterprises, winning major awards along with gold, silver and bronze medals in what is now the island of Ireland’s biggest and most respected awards, which will open the door to greater business success with retailers.

The influential awards were announced in a gala ceremony held in Dingle as an integral part of the annual food festival in the historic county Kerry town.

Almost 3,000 products were entered by food and drink companies from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for blind tasting by a panel of expert judges including chefs, food writers, retailers, business people and academics. Over 40 awards were won by Northern Ireland food and drink companies.

The full list of gold awards were:
Armagh Cider Company, Craigavon for Doyle’s Summer Fruit Cider;
Burren Balsamics, Richill, county Armagh for Bramley Apple Infused Balsamic Vinegar;
Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt, Bangor, Greek Style Yoghurt;
Corn Dolly Bakery, Newry, county Down for Large Floury Baps and Rich Fruit Cake
Donnybrewer Butter, Eglinton, county Derry for Garlic and Chive Butter;
Erin Grove Preserves, Enniskillen, county Fermanagh for Sour Cherry and Cracked Black Pepper Fruit for Cheese;
Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Kircubbin, county Down for Apple Schnaps Sorbet;
Gourmet Marshmallows, Coleraine, county Derry for Lemon Meringue Marshmallow;
McErlain’s Bakery, Magherafelt, county Derry for SuperValu and Centra Sean Brown’s Soda
Orchard Organics Portadown, county Armagh for Organic Raspberry Jam;
Papas Minerals, Bangor, county Down for Traditional Clover Cordia
Pop Notch, Dungiven, county Derry for Spar Select Sweet chill, Caramel and Lime Popcorn and Spar Select Butter Popcorn;
Quinn’s Gelato, Cookstown, county Tyrone for Hazelnut Gelato
Western Brand Poultry, Lisnaskea, county Fermanagh for Garlic and Herb Spatchcock Chicken; and
White’s Oats, Tandragee, county Armagh for Aldi Kavanagh’s Porridge Oats in Golden Syrup

Cavanagh Free-Range Eggs from Newtownbutler, county Fermanagh was also named as The Chef’s Larder Choice.

In addition, Northern Ireland companies collected 13 silver and a similar number of bronze awards.