Kinsale Mead is Ireland’s first commercial ‘meadery’ for over 200 years.
Established in 2017 by Kate and Denis Dempsey, the pair were inspired by the legends of Ireland’s Wild Geese and wanted to explore the potential of their mead further by ageing it in French wine barrels for 12 months.
Kinsale, with its longstanding reputation as Ireland’s premier gourmet destination and its historical trading routes to Spain, is reflected in the ingredients crafted into their white and red mead: Spanish Orange blossom honey, local botanicals and fruits grown in Ireland.
The Irish Food Writers Guild Award is for their Wild Red Mead – Merlot Barrel Aged, a three year-old fermented off-dry mead flavoured with tart Irish blackberry and juicy cherry, then aged for 12 months in Bordeaux wine casks.
Online for 2020
2020 was a challenging year for the duo as direct sales were impacted, meadery tours were limited and tastings, food festivals and other promotional opportunities all ceased due to Covid-19 restrictions.
They responded by creating virtual Online Mead Talk & Taste Zooms – tastings and intriguing insights into the history of mead in Ireland and the importance of mead in Irish food culture.
Kinsale Mead’s Merlot Barrel Aged Wild Red Mead showcases the creativity, innovation, determination and attention to detail put into every drop of the honeyed elixir. This mead may well have influences of Spain and France, but to taste it is to experience a contemporary expression of the original wine of Ireland, states the IFWG.
Now in their 27th year, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards celebrate local producers and food heroes who’ve brought joy to the lives, livelihoods and tables of so many, before – and especially during – Covid-19.
The Guild awarded its Irish Drink Award to “a gem of a Kinsale-crafted mead flavoured with tart Irish blackberry and juicy cherry”.
In a year in which there has been a newfound appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, it’s perhaps no coincidence that the winners of the 2021 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards reflect the basic foundations of Irish food, said IFWG Chair Kristin Jensen who announced this year’s winners.
The winners of the 2021 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are:
- Food Award: Abernethy Butter, Co Down
- Food Award: Ballymakenny Farm Irish Heritage and Specialty Potatoes, Co Louth
- Food Award: Tom Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Co Cork
- Irish Drink Award: Kinsale Mead Wild Red Mead – Merlot Barrel Aged, Co Cork
- Outstanding Organisation Award: NeighbourFood, Co Cork
- Environmental Award: Ballymore Organics, Co Kildare
- Community Food Award: The Green-Schools Food & Biodiversity Theme
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Marion Roeleveld, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese, Co Galway.
“The past year has seen a seismic shift in how people are thinking about their food with a renewed focus on traceability, sustainability and most importantly this year, supporting local,” said Kristin Jensen, “These have been the three key tenets of the IFWG Food Awards and the work of the Guild for almost 30 years.
Kristin also paid tribute to Bord Bia for its continued support of the awards and its tireless work on the home and export markets to promote and develop the Irish food industry.
The IFWG Food Awards are unique in that no business or individual can enter, nor do they know if they’ve been nominated or shortlisted for an award. With the exception of the Community Food Award (for which the Guild invites nominations) the Guild is the sole nominating and decision-making body whose members nominate and anonymously buy products for tasting. Proportional representation voting is then undertaken at a Guild tasting meeting.
Winning products must be produced in Ireland and the main ingredient must be Irish-grown or -produced.
IFWG Food Awards e-zine
For the first time in its long-established history, the traditional IFWG Food Awards ceremony and lunch featuring all the winning produce was cancelled. However, if there was ever a time to champion and celebrate local producers it’s right now and citations, interviews with the winners and recipes have been catalogued in an IFWG Food Awards e-zine.
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