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While mainland Britain is full of producers creating excellent food and drink, enterprising independent food retailers across the UK should look across the channel to explore some truly unique products and stories.
Indie retailers across the UK are famed for their cheese expertise, so Speciality Food readers are bound to be excited by recent developments in Northern Ireland’s cheese sector where many cheesemakers have worked closely with the Academy of Cheese to develop their expertise.
The World Cheese Awards recently awarded Dart Mountain Cheese’s Meeny Hill with a gold award and Kilcreen with silver, while Velocheese’s Stracciatella – the delicious result of a partnership between Indie Fude and Davide Tani - was awarded bronze.
The country has long been revered for its whiskey, and this favoured sector is seeing impressive growth as well as renown. The number of distillers is booming, with exciting new Northern Irish whiskeys being launched by makers including Shortcross, McConnell’s, Hinch and Echlinville – but it’s not only whiskey that is proving to be a popular export.
“Northern Ireland is now home to over 20 distilleries and breweries producing single malt, pot still and blended Irish whiskeys, gin, poitin, vodka, rum, craft beer, cider and hard seltzers. From Old Bushmills Distillery, the world’s oldest licensed distillery, to innovative newcomers including Hinch, Echlinville, McConnells, Rademon, Killowen, Copeland and Boatyard,” says Michelle Charrington, business development director at Invest NI.
Indeed, Echvlinville Distillery’s whiskey, The Spirit of Belfast, picked up the coveted Whiskey of the Year title at the Irish Whiskey Awards with its single cask bottling of 21 year old Palo Cortado sherry cask finish whiskey being named Ireland’s best whiskey.