Shetland Food And Drink Wins Great Taste Awards
by Alastair Hamilton -
It’s always good to have confirmation that the food and drink that comes from Shetland really is outstanding and that’s come in the form of three Great Taste Awards.
Lerwick Brewery, Shetlandeli and The Shetland Distillery Company have all been named as winners in this year’s awards. All three companies won a gold star for their products and each can now proudly carry the little gold and black Great Taste logo, regarded as the ‘oscar’ of the artisan food world. Certainly, when I’ve bought food that bears the label in the past, I’ve found it to be a reliable guide. The Great Taste Awards depend on blind tasting and don’t take any account of branding or packaging.
Astonishingly, these awards involve not just two or three judges, but over 400. The panel includes food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, producers and a host of food writers and journalists. They included Masterchef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion; Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn; and food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.
Lerwick Brewery won an award for Tushkar, its oatmeal stout. Launched last year, Tushkar is the Brewery’s first dark beer. Rhanna Turberville, Brewery Manager, says: “Not only is it great to get this recognition for Tushkar, it’s our second Great Taste Award, adding to our win last year for our craft lager 60° North. It’s fantastic endorsement that we’re making great-tasting beers which are appreciated right across the UK.”
Shetlandeli’s entry also involved stout, this time from Shetland’s (and Britain’s) northernmost brewery in Unst. Valhalla Ale Chutney is made with Sjolmet Stout and a rich mix of spices, apples, root vegetables, dates and dark sugar. Jill Franklin, founder of Shetlandeli, says: “This is our first Great Taste Award and we’re thrilled to have this recognition in our first year of operation. Our customers’ taste buds have already voted Valhalla our most popular chutney, so it’s wonderful to get such a high-profile endorsement. It places Valhalla amongst some of the best products in the UK. We’re very proud.”
The Shetland Distillery Company won an award for its Shetland Reel Gin. This traditional-style gin, made with Unst-grown apple mint, has already won high-profile awards, including a silver medal at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Debbie Strang, Director of Shetland Distillery Company, says: “Shetland Reel Gin has had wonderful feedback since we launched in August last year. Winning a Great Taste Award is particularly important for growth in the UK high end food market, and we are proud to be one of the select group of winners this year.”
Congratulations to the winners – and let’s hope more Shetland food comes forward for judging next year.