Four businesses from across East Lothian have been awarded much-coveted stars in Great Taste 2020, the world’s most trusted food and drink awards. The four businesses, all extremely different, but each very much embodying quality artisan produce, are now able to display their stars on their product packaging.
Well known Gifford business, Yester Farm Dairies won a two-star award for its signature cottage cheese which the judges said had ‘lifted cottage cheese to a new dimension.’
The Spice Witch has also won two stars for her flagship product, Mango and Chilli Chutney, which is still made entirely by hand in small batches in order to ensure the ‘amazing aroma’ that the Great Taste judges loved so much!
Gullane based By Julia won one star with her Gullane Glögg which is a drinks mixer; a delicious combination of orange infused with spices, which can either be added to red or sparkling wine.
Last, but by no means least, Brodies, a business that has been synonymous with the finest teas and coffees since it was founded in 1867, won two sets of one-star awards for its Kilimanjaro coffee and its Skeachan cake, which is based on a traditional treacle and ale rich fruit cake.
Judged by 144 of the most discerning palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, buyers, retailers and producers, as well as food writers and journalists, Great Taste is the most coveted of all food and drink awards. As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakeable black and gold Great Taste label is a signpost to an outstanding product, which has been discovered through hours and hours of blind tasting.
This year’s winners have been found through a combination of remote judging and socially distanced judging sessions.
Jackie McCreery, co-owner of Yester Farm Dairies, said:
“We have some of the best farming conditions in the UK here in East Lothian and we can make the best quality produce. I believe that this, combined with the extraordinary support we have received from the local community, has helped us to be able to produce products worthy of such prestigious awards as Great Taste.”
Janice Strachan from The Spice Witch, says of the Great Taste Awards:
“Those little black and gold stickers really do catch the eye of customers. But apart from the increase in sales, they give us an enormous sense of pride. There’s a wonderful history and love of good produce in East Lothian and we are incredibly grateful to work alongside such a wealth of local talent and producers.
Julia from By Julia says of the Great Taste Awards:
“Great Taste awards are so important to the business, as they are an endorsement of the quality of the product that carries the logo. Everyone recognises it on sight and would be likely to choose that product over another without the seal of approval.
Ann Hameda from Brodies feels strongly about the importance of artisan produce when it comes to winning customers over:
“Artisan producers are more connected to their products, as it is made through their passion and commitment and I think that shows in the quality and taste of the food they make.”
Rebecca Muir, Busines Manager for East Lothian, Scotland’s Food and Drink County said:
“These four businesses should be extremely proud of what they have achieved, and they demonstrate the breadth of talent and wonderful taste coming from East Lothian’s food and drink sector. The community has been so supportive of our local producers, particularly over recent months, and I’m sure that has contributed to what they’ve been able to achieve. I know that our winners are all grateful for all the support they receive from East Lothian residents and I too find that particularly uplifting.”
Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste values taste above all else, with no regard for branding and packaging. Whether it is cake, coffee, kippers or kombucha being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award. There were 12,777 entries into Great Taste this year and of those products, 205 have been awarded a 3-star, 1,294 received a 2-star and 3,818 were awarded a 1-star accolade.
For more information: Rebecca Muir, Business Manager, East Lothian – Scotland’s Food & Drink County firstname.lastname@example.org or 07377 721459
General Great Taste press enquiries:
+44 (0) 7961 635960
What is Great Taste?
Great Taste, founded in 1994 and organised by the Guild of Fine Food, has judged over 158,000 products in the last 27 years; each one has been blind-tasted by a team of judges who are dedicated to finding the most exquisite tasting food and drink regardless of branding or packaging.
Great Taste ratings
2-star: Above and beyond delicious – 10% of entries will achieve this rating
1-star: A food that delivers fantastic flavour. Approximately 30% of entries will achieve this rating each year.
What are Great Taste judges looking for?
They’re looking for great texture and appearance. They judge the quality of ingredients and how well the maker has put the food or drink together. But above all, they are looking for truly great taste.
How did the judging work this year?
Great Taste has grown and is trusted because of the rigour of its judging process. With the challenges of lockdown, and then social distancing, the Guild of Fine Food had to adapt the judging process to ensure that every entry went through enough judging layers to reach a fair rating and generate constructive feedback for the producers.
After a week of normal judging ahead of lockdown, the Guild of Fine Food quickly had to establish a way in which to judge the remaining 12,000 products. In early May, a remote judging system was established, with entries consolidated at the Guild of Fine Food’s HQ in Dorset and then sent to smaller groups of judges, working remotely and sharing the experience over Zoom. This ensured that a similar number of experts assessed every food and drink product. This remote judging suited ambient, cheese and some cured products, but judges needed to get back into the judging room in early July to tackle products which require cooking, as well as frozen puddings and other logistically challenging entries. Great Taste had fewer experts in both the London and Gillingham judging locations, so the food was passed through more teams to, again, achieve the critical number of palates to ensure that the judging criteria was met and feedback was provided. Over the years, numerous food businesses, start-ups and well-established producers have been advised how to modify their foods and have subsequently gone on to achieve Great Taste stars.
In line with previous years, tea and coffee were judged in specialist facilities to ensure correct preparation. Following the considerable efforts of the Great Taste team, the judges and the flexibility of the food producers who entered, the results and thorough feedback on each product, whether award winner or not, were published only seven weeks after the originally planned results date – and are now available for retailers and consumers to discover for themselves.
What do the stars mean for producers?
Recognised as a reliable stamp of excellence among consumers, retailers and major food buyers alike, Great Taste success can be the gateway to exciting opportunities for food and drink producers. As well as seeing an uplift in sales and revenue, award-winning producers also get to enjoy raised awareness by appearing in the Great Taste book, a unique directory used by many food retailers, supplying samples for high profile events and exhibiting as part of Great Taste Markets at events including RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, CarFest and Countryfile Live. Receiving a 3-, 2- or 1-star rating for products really puts producers on the map, while opening doors to investment and export opportunities.
What should consumers look for?
The logo. The Great Taste symbol is their guarantee a product has been through a rigorous and independent judging process. It’s not about smart packaging or clever marketing – it’s all about taste.