Following more than 65 days of judging, 41 Great Taste stars were awarded to 29 products from 13 producers in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough.
Matching last year’s success, Quails Fine Foods and Yellow Door Portadown were again awarded a superb seven stars each. Burren Balsamics also impressed the judges, scooping five stars including a prestigious three star award for their Saddle of Colebrooke Venison, described as “strikingly flavoursome” and “tender, moist and rich”.
A three-star rating is the highest award a product can receive from the guild and accounts for around 3% of the star ratings. Brand new to the Food Heartland this year, Natural Umber Organic Apple Cider Vinegar also gained a three-star rating – a phenomenal achievement for a new product at the first attempt.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty, congratulated the winners, “Congratulations to all the Great Taste award winners! Food Heartland producers have again triumphed at this year’s awards, winning more stars this year than ever before, demonstrating the strength of our food and drink offer in this borough.”
Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. It has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’.
In 2018 over 500 judges, including food critics, chefs, restaurateurs, cooks, producers and a host of food writers, journalists and social media influencers, came together from all corners of the food world to blind-taste each product.
Winning is important to the producers as it differentiates their products from the norm and means customers have a guarantee that products have a reliable seal of approval based on great taste and not marketing.
The supreme champion, a title which has been claimed by Irish food producers for each of the past three years, will be announced next month.