THE owners of a Wye Valley craft distillery say they are “over the moon” to have had their products recognised as some of the best tasting in the world through a prestigious awards scheme for food and drink producers.
Nina and Joe Howdon, who own Silver Circle Distillery in Catbrook near Tintern, picked up a total of six stars at the 2021 Great Taste Awards for three of their handmade craft spirits, including a “coveted” three-star rating which signals “only extraordinarily tasty foods.”
The UK-based Great Taste Awards are described as “the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards” in which thousands of entries from around the world are blind tasted by a panel of hundreds of food and drink experts.
This year, there were more than 14,000 different products entered from 108 countries, with only 118 products from the UK, and just 1.5 per cent of all entries, being awarded the top three-star rating.
Nina and Joe, who founded the distillery in June 2019, received the three-star accolade for their pre-mixed cocktail ‘Damson Negroni’, which is made with a special blend of Vermouths, Wye Valley Gin and Campari, infused with ripe damsons from within a mile of the distillery.
One of the judges said of the cocktail: “The complexity is remarkable; the balance of sweetness and bitterness continues to delight long after the final sip.
“We cannot think how this might conceivably be improved: we wondered about a more overt damson flavour but felt that nothing should disturb the perfect balance of tastes and aromatics here.”
The couple also received two stars for their Black Garlic Vodka, which is popular for use in a Bloody Mary and is made with black garlic, smoky lapsang souchong and toast.
The judges described the spirit as “a smooth drink with a sweetness that balances the umami, garlic note. Rounded, unusual and pleasantly surprising, we enjoyed the inclusion of tea which seemed to tie the flavours together.”
The pair were also awarded one star for their best-selling product, Wye Valley Gin, which is distilled to showcase the “unfamiliar yet delicious flavours” of foraged botanicals which grow wild across the valley.
The judges said the gin “stood out for having a bit of personality - great to see in such an over-saturated category.
“The finish is slippery and textured and it leaves you wanting more. Well-made and intriguing.”
Great Taste said the awards will help put “Nina and Joe’s flair for unique and interesting distillations firmly on the craft spirits map”.
Joe said of the new accolades: “Our ethos has always been to follow our instincts and put flavour first.
“We are producing spirits which are exciting to us, and we’re not scared to do something unusual as long as it tastes good, so we’re over the moon that Great Taste has recognised these products and given them such amazing ratings!”
For more information about Silver Circle Distillery, go to silvercircledistillery.com.