Food NI members Echlinville Distillery in Co Down and Niche Drinks in Co Derry have won four major in the prestigious Irish Whiskey Awards.
Based at Kircubbin, Echlinville won
Gold in Best Irish Single Malt for its Dunville PX Single Cask 12-year old whiskey;
Best Irish Poitin for Ban Poitin; and
Gold for Echlinville Single Estate Gin in the Irish Gin category.
Niche Drinks at Ebrington in Derry won gold in the Irish Whiskey Single Cask for its eight-year old single malt whiskey
The Irish Whiskey Awards (IWA) celebrate excellence in Irish whiskey and other spirits such as gin and vodka.
The awards, which are now in their sixth year, span over 20 categories, including a new award named the ‘New Irish Whiskey Award’. Only distilleries open for at least three years can enter with a whiskey that has been distilled on site. The whiskey with the highest overall score is singled out as Irish Whiskey of the Year.
The entries are judged in blind tasting sessions by members of the Celtic Whiskey Club, Irish Whiskey Society and Cork Whiskey Society. This year also welcomed the participation of the Galway Whiskey Trail and Kilkenny Whiskey Guild. Overseas members of the Celtic Whiskey Club could also participate and had the opportunity to purchase sample packs without having to travel to Ireland.
The awards in the spirit categories, as well as the beer and liqueur categories, are based on judging by members of the trade along with recognized experts.
Echlinville, the first distillery in Northern Ireland in over a decade, was founded in 2012 and now operates from a purpose-built distillery just outside Kircubbin. The business was established by businessman Shane Braniff who also runs the 100-acre at Rubane, where he grows barley for the spirits.
Jawbox, another award-winning Food NI member, is also distilled at Echlinville.