Nicky spices up major London food showcase with novel drink

Traditional non-alcoholic ginger wine from Tandragee, Co Armagh is in the running to be named the UK top artisan drink product of 2023 at a major international food fair in London.

Jackson Roze, a family enterprise, is listed among four for New Product of the Year at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London for its unique traditional non-alcoholic ginger wine.

Running from Monday to Tuesday evening, Speciality Food, among the biggest European showcases of artisan food and drink, attracts exhibitors and visitors from the UK and other parts of Europe and is part of the annual Great Taste Awards, the final stages of which will also be held in London on Monday night.

Six Northern Ireland food producers are in the running for the Supreme Champion and Northern Ireland’s Regional Fork for top local food at the awards. They are: Baronscourt Estate Venison from Newtownstewart; Ballyboley Dexters, Greyabbey; Hannan Meats, Moira; Maud’s Ice Cream, Carrickfergus; Morelli’s Ice Cream, Coleraine; and William Grant Bacon, Londonderry.

The influential UK New Product of the Year Award features Jackson Roze’s non- alcoholic ginger wine and is separate from Great Taste. It celebrates a product at Speciality and Fine Food Fair 2023 that has demonstrated creativity and innovation at the heart of its concept. Jackson Roze was listed following its success in striking a gold star in this year’s UK Great Taste. It is up against three products – cheese and beverages- from Britain.

The judges were looking for pioneering credentials, high quality construction, a clear marketing strategy and a product that comes from a brand that is constantly innovating and experimenting to inspire its customers. 

One of the few local companies to exhibit at the two-day showcase, Jackson Roze has, in addition, been named as a finalist in the Blas na hEireann, Irish National Awards and the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, the finals of which take place on Wednesday.

The highly acclaimed company is a family run, artisan drinks producer of a traditional drink that has been passed down through their family generations for 100 years from great grandparents. The ginger wine is a luxury drink that is gluten free and is said to offer health benefits.

It’s claimed that ginger wine can reduce blood pressure; help arthritis; relieve pain; suppress nausea; aid digestion; and counter cold and flu. The wine is non-alcoholic in that it is not fermented and doesn’t contain yeast. It is also free from colourings, preservatives and gluten.

The artisan business was formed by husband and wife team Andrew and Nicky Jackson earlier in the year. Daughters Rebekkah (13), Zara (12), Olivia (10) and Eliana (6) also help in the business at weekends and during the school holidays. They give the family venture the Roze part of its distinctive corporate identity.

“We set up the company to produce a homemade, traditional, non-alcoholic ginger wine that’s based on a recipe from my great grandparents,” Nicky, who has also been shortlisted in Britain for Entrepreneur of the Year, explains. “We had been making the ginger wine, especially at Christmas, over many years and were encouraged by family and friends to think about turning it into a small business. Nicky has a background in financial management and now looks after the day-to-day running of the family business. Andrew adds marketing knowledge and expertise to the artisan enterprise, which is now a Food NI member.

Nicky is quick to point out that the ginger wine is not being sold as a cure or to help with any symptoms. Anyone on medications is advised by the couple to consult their doctor before taking ginger preparations. “Our ginger wine is a family recipe that is more than 100 years old.  It was used by older generations as a pick-me-up for when someone wasn’t well. The sugar content helped to build them up while the ginger helped to alleviate symptoms,” she adds.

The ginger wine, she says, is “so versatile that it can cater for all tastes and ideas for consumption. “There is no need to dilute it as it comes ready to serve. Hot water, for instance, can be added to a glass for a lovely warming ginger drink.