Abernethy Butter From Dromara Wins IFWG Food Award

Co. Down butter-makers have been announced as worthy winners of an Irish Food Writers Guild award.


Co. Down butter-makers have been announced as worthy winners of an Irish Food Writers Guild award.

Abernethy Butter is among winners of Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards.

“In a year in which there has been a newfound appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, it is perhaps no coincidence that the winners of the 2021 Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards reflect the basic foundations of Irish food,” said IFWG Chair, Kristin Jensen, who announced this year’s winners today.

Will and Alison Abernethy of Abernethy Butter based in Dromara.

Irish spuds topped with a generous knob of creamy, hand-rolled butter and served with traditional spiced beef are the makings of a fine feast and are the cornerstone of many an Irish meal. 

The kind of produce we take for granted in Ireland, these oft-considered store cupboard ‘basics’ have each been singled out for a 2021 Irish Food Award, and for good reason.

Abernethy Butter was one of just three producers across the Island of Ireland handpicked by the Irish Food Writer’s Guild for a prestigious 2021 Irish Food Award.

Now in their 27th year, the IFWG Food Awards celebrate local producers and food heroes who have brought joy to the lives, livelihoods and tables of so many, before and especially during COVID-19.

But whose commitment to producing great food and drink will endure long after the pandemic.

Abernethy Butter Sells Across Ireland and the UK

Allison and her husband, Will Abernethy are custodians of a near-lost tradition of handmade, hand-rolled butter in Ireland, having begun producing Abernethy Butter around ten years ago and growing it into the award-winning brand it is today, with a variety of flavours as well as handmade fudge and lemon curd.

“Initially,” Alison said: “We tried all the creams around Northern Ireland and found that the cream from Drayne’s farm near Lisburn supplied the most suitable product. I could well be down to the fact that Holstein cows are less stressed because they are milked by robot.

‘Over the past year our business has been very steady with a good retail turnover in outlets across the UK and Ireland, and we supply to a number of restaurants too.

“We put out around 1000 packets of butter a week and they are all made using the traditional methods. It might be slower by the quality of the product is much better.”

A unique dairy product, commercially unlike any other in Ireland in terms of process, their small-batch, slow-churned, hand-rolled butter shaped with wooden pats is made using Draynes Farm grass-fed, single-herd cream, which Allison and Will found to be the creamiest cream, resulting in the driest, best butter.

Will Abernethy said: “We are delighted to have won this very prestigious award. Thankfully our business has not been impacted to any great extent by Covid-19 and we have managed to keep up well with our orders. We have missed going to the country fairs and shows over the past year but hopefully soon we will be back to normal again.”

Abernethy Butter is frequently listed on menus and a star ingredient in dishes of the best restaurants in Ireland and the UK, with a slew of stockists and their walls covered with prestigious awards.

(Abernethy Butter has received a major food award. (Photo: Paul Sherwood)

Offering a variety of flavours (Dulse Butter, Black Garlic Butter, Smoked Butter, Chipotle Chilli & Smoked Paprika Butter), their unsalted and salted butters are their signature, and ‘Abernethy Gold’ should surely be added to the colour chart for that unmistakable, rich shade each roll bears. 

Check out: www.abernethybutter.com

The full list of winners of the 2021 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are as follows:

1.                   Food Award: Abernethy Butter, Co. Down

2.                   Food Award: Ballymakenny Farm Irish Heritage and Specialty Potatoes, Co. Louth

3.                   Food Award: Tom Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Co. Cork

4.                   Irish Drink Award: Kinsale Mead Wild Red Mead – Merlot Barrel Aged, Co. Cork

5.                   Outstanding Organisation Award: NeighbourFood, Co. Cork

6.                   Environmental Award: Ballymore Organics, Co. Kildare

7.                   Community Food Award: The Green-Schools Food & Biodiversity Theme

8.                   Lifetime Achievement Award: Marion Roeleveld, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese, Co. Galway

Kristin Jensen of the IFWG added: “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.  These have been the three key tenets of the IFWG Food Awards and the work of the Guild for almost 30 years.

“If this pandemic has any silver lining, it is the light that has been shined on the incredible, resourceful and innovative food producers of Ireland that have responded to the challenge, giving back to communities and ensuring a continued supply of and access to the highest-quality home-grown produce.

“Today’s winners have an innate passion for food and their commitment is nothing short of vocational. This is our way of recognising their achievements and our way of saying well done and thank you.”

On behalf of the IFWG, Kristin Jensen 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.

Una Fitzgibbon, Director Marketing and Communication, Bord Bia, said: “It’s fantastic to see such an innovative line up of Irish producers and initiatives celebrated at this year’s IFWG Food Awards. Seeing their resilience and creativity throughout an incredibly challenging year, I know we can be confident that our local food producers will continue to thrive in 2021.

“These enduring and respected annual Food Awards are an important opportunity to recognise local food producers for their distinctive and delicious products, which are the hallmarks of the Irish food and drink sector. Congratulations to all the very deserving winners.”

About the Irish Food Writers’ Food Awards

The IFWG Food Awards are unique. No business or individual can enter, nor do they know if they have been nominated or shortlisted for an award. 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.