This was the 22nd year of the awards which recognise and showcase excellence in the independent off-licence sector.
Judging for the awards began last June with the ongoing judging process culminating in a blind wine-tasting which involved participants answering questions about the unidentified wines.
NOffLA, representing 315 specialist and independent off-licence businesses throughout the country, is calling on the government to expedite the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill through all stages of the legislative process in the coming weeks.
At the event, NOffLA Chairman Gary O’Donovan emphasised that a ban on below-invoice-cost selling was particularly necessary “… judging by the recent Christmas activity of the groceries in promoting alcohol which was worse than ever”.
As the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing had been delayed in favour of an all-island approach pending the formation of a Northern Irish Assembly, NOffLA is now pushing for an interim ban on below-invoice-cost selling as a “stop-gap measure”.
At the same time, he stated, “NOffLA is concerned by any and all amendments made to the Bill which do not have consumer protection at the core. As such, we’re calling on Government to pass the Bill in full at the earliest possible opportunity.”
He continued, “A ban on below-cost selling would therefore also augment Minimum Unit Pricing in the long-run and so should be seen as a complimentary rather than as a substitute measure.
“While tonight we celebrate the best that the industry has to offer, it’s important to remember that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is still some distance from enactment and significant threats to its passage remain. Indeed, the government has come under sustained pressure from multinational food retailers and supermarkets seeking a prioritisation of sectoral revenues over public health. Government must dismiss such interests and fully implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in order to ensure responsible retailing and consumption of alcohol.”
NOffLA’s awards, which included all 40 finalists being awarded certificates of ‘Merit’ or ‘Excellence’ and a Customer Service Award, were sponsored by Dona Paula wines, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, El Coto de Rioja, Hennessy, Hop House 13, Montes wines, Redbreast Irish whiskey and RTC.
The overall winner, Jus de Vine won the award in 1999 and 2000 and the outlet was a popular winner, judging by the thunderous applause. In typically lighthearted fashion, Jus de Vine’s Julie Cullen thanked the judges for their “impeccable taste”.
- Off-Licence of the Year – Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, Dublin
- Best First Time Entrant – Lilac Wines, Fairview, Dublin
- Food Retailer Off-Licence – Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4
- Customer Service – The Vintry, Rathgar, Dublin
- Spirit Specialist – Mitchell & Son, CHQ, Dublin
- Beer Specialist – Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4
- Wine Specialist – Gibney’s of Malahide
- Connaught/Ulster Off-Licence – McCambridge’s of Galway
- Leinster Off-Licence – The Wine Centre, Kilkenny
- Dublin Off-Licence – Martin’s, Clontarf, Dublin
- Munster Off-Licence – O’Donovans, Bandon
- Online Trainee of the Year – Conor McGrath, McHugh’s, Kilbarrack
- Responsible Retailer of the Year – O’Donovans Off-Licence Group, Cork.