Taste of success for producers in top food and drink awards

Michael McKillop of Glens of Antrim Crisps. Pic by Domnick Walsh.
Michael McKillop of Glens of Antrim Crisps. Pic by Domnick Walsh.
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A Ballymena-based crisp producer has received a Gold Award in the Irish Food Awards 2019 in Dingle, recently.

Michael McKillop of GOA (Glens of Antrim) Crisps, received the accolade for the company’sDunnes Stores Simply Better Hand Cooked Clogherhead Sea Salt & White Wine Vinegar Crisps.

Darren Nugent, head distiller, of Ion Distillery, in Co. Tyrone.

Darren Nugent, head distiller, of Ion Distillery, in Co. Tyrone.

Michael said: “We are thrilled to receive this award at Blas na hÉireann. We are so delighted that people enjoy the taste of our hand cooked crisps just as much as we enjoy making them.

“It is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of our team and the true partnership we have with the team at Simply Better. ”

Chef Neven Maguire, Brand Ambassador for Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection, commented: “I look forward to this weekend every year to celebrate fine Irish Food with those who craft it best. What is exciting about the Blas na hÉireann Awards is that there is equal opportunity for all, from the rural artisan food producers right through to the top tier of the food industry, it is open to everyone and it is always particularly exciting to see the smaller producers win big! We are delighted for all of the Simply Better food producers who received this platform of recognition today.”

Diarmuid Murphy, Brand Manager for Dunnes Stores Simply Better Collection added: “To receive such substantial number of awards is a dream come true for us and for our amazing Simply Better food producers.

“We see first hand the passion, creativity and craftsmanship that goes into developing each and every product for the Simply Better Collection, so we are thrilled that this dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed and our producers receive an accolade that is recognised, measurable and creates significant difference to their business.”

Meanwhile, Co-Tyrone based Íon Distillery, which has been distilling for just 12 months, has been successful in the Global Luxury Spirits Masters Ion Distillery winning two gold medals – one for its Yuzu flavoured Curious Citrus Gin and in a first for a distillery on the island of Ireland – a gold for its Whiskey Cask Spiced Rum.

The international competition is organised by influential magazine ‘The Spirits Business’ and assessed by a panel of leading spirits specialists. Each product was evaluated on nose, palate, appearance and overall balance. Only spirits receiving over 80 points from a possible 100 from each judge was awarded a coveted gold medal.

Íon Whiskey Cask Spiced Rum is fermented, distilled, aged and packaged from scratch in the company’s own premises in Carrickmore. This is the first time that a rum that is entirely domestically produced has won a gold medal at the Global Luxury Spirits Masters.

Head distiller Darren Nugent said: “Winning such prestigious awards in this international competition is a marvellous endorsement of the quality and outstanding flavours of our products.

“In particular, I am overjoyed at winning for our rum which is a recognition of the great deal of work which has gone into not just creating a 100 per cent locally made rum – but one which can complete with the very best from around the world.”

The company produces three spirits; its Whiskey Cask Spiced Rum; Curiously Citrus Gin and a three Grain Triple Stone Filtered Vodka all on site.