So was this a move in the right direction for this scheme which has in my humble opinion been so totally focused on food in Wales to the detriment of drinks from Wales, and was the invitation a recognition that the drinks industry in Wales needs greater exposure and support ?
I was keen to see - so off up that dreaded A470 I set..... and 5 hours and 187miles (yes, it does take that long !!) later I saw the sea from the brow of the hill into Llandudno.
Once I had popped the old suit on it was a short hop to Venue Cymru for the Ceremony and dinner and I had high expectations of meeting some key industry players - I mean, if I was a PR company who had invited a blogger called Drinks from Wales, I would definitely have ensured they were sat on a table with at least one drinks producer, right ? Well, no. Oddly I was sat with some business support people and no drinks producers - OK, to me that was a wasted opportunity but hey, they were in the room right !
Well, yes they were - along with about 600 other people, so it was a case of find them if you can... and to be fair the PR bod did ask me if I wanted to be introduced.......
Anyway, small gripe over and on to the Awards proper... all 120 of them !! Yes 120 - it was going to be a long night !! (A very long night as it turned out) so on with the food - which all came from champion producers in Wales and was almost perfect - right up to the pudding which was a major disappointment !
So let's make a guess as to how many of these 120 Awards were related to Drinks from Wales ? Go on.. do you want a multiple choice ? Well let me tell you...... wait for it...... 3.
OK - so it's a question I want answered - why are there a multitude of awards for the food sector yet only 3 fro the drinks sector ? It may be that there is no other way that they can add an award category but what about Welsh Wine List of the Year ? Splitting the beers, wines and ciders into three categories with maybe an overall winner as well ? Really you need to spread the net a little wider and more imaginatively...
Because even those that did win were simply the usual suspects to a great extent - I mean I knew, before I had even read a thing, one brewer that would definitely be in the awards... now that may be because they have excellent marketing and they do have an excellent product and they know the system - but come on True Taste - how widely do you publicise these awards amongst the drinks sector ?
So therein lies my problem with The True Taste - it simply doesn't effectively represent nor reward the drinks sector in Wales - surprise surprise....
But on a more positive note let's celebrate the winners !
In the category for NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS the awards went to:
Welsh Farmhouse Apple Juice - Egremont Russet
Brecon Mineral Water - Brecon Carreg Welsh Natural Mineral Water – Still
Brecon Mineral Water - Brecon Carreg Welsh Natural Mineral Water – Sparkling
In the category for BEER, CIDER & PERRY (UNDER 10% ABV) the winners were:
The Celt Experience Ltd - Celt-Golden
Monty's Brewery - Sunshine
Blaengawney Cider - Hallets Real Cider
And the final drinks award, for WINE, SPIRITS & OTHER ALCOHOL (OVER 10% ABV) went to:
Celtic Spirit Co. - Danzy Jones
Condessa Welsh Liqueurs - Sloe Gin
Da Mhile Distillery - Da Mhile Orange Liquer
And that was it - in a blink of an eye - for those 9 minutes out of the 6 hour evening, the drinks sector was highlighted.
So well done to all those who won. Interestingly, the splendid wines of Ancre Hill were available at the pre-dinner drinks reception and throughout the night so well done to Richard Morris and his team - even thought they didn't win any awards.....
So all in all a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening evening and I have plenty of ideas of how the next 10 Years of True Taste Awards can properly represent the drinks sector as well as Wales' wonderful food producers ! So anyone at True Taste want to talk ?????