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Sophie Hewitt
19th May 2021

It has to be said, our friends at Produced in Kent really know how to celebrate our local produce! While this year’s Taste of Kent Awards was a little different to previous years, with their first ever virtual awards ceremony, trust us when we say it was no less glittering (and no less mouth-watering). In honour of our partners and our fantastic foodie friends, we’re spilling the tea (or Kentish cider) on the winners of the 2021 Taste of Kent awards.

And the winner is…

Grain to glass

In just a year, our first winner has gone on to become the spirit of the county town as Maidstone Distillery’s George Bishop London Dry Gin scooped first place as Kent Spirit of the Year. Peppery, spicy and packed with floral and citrus notes, this award-winning gin honours the founding father of the original Maidstone Distillery of 1785. In the heart of Maidstone’s Market buildings and with tours on offer, we recommend you pay these guys a visit! Next up, the prestigious Kent Beer of the Year award was taken by none other than Cellar Head Brewing Co and their Session Pale Ale. Featuring three Kent hops, it’s no wonder judges said this refreshing beer has plenty of floral and hop character! Psst…with their very own taproom onsite and nearby to the likes of Bedgebury and Bewl Water, we recommend stopping by after your next bike ride!

(C) Dudda's Tun

Delicious drinks


Described as dangerously drinkable by the judges, you can see why DISCO by Dudda’s Tun Cider won this year’s Kent Cider of the Year award! Produced with apples grown from the family fruit farm, DISCO has won 30(!) awards to date and is still made with 100% fresh pressed Kent apples. For Kent Wine of the Year, we’re raising a glass to Herbert Hall Brut Sparkling Wine by Herbert Hall Winery in Marden. With customers including Le Gavroche, The Groucho Club and even HRH The Prince of Wales, we are sure you don’t need too much more encouragement to have a taste of this tempting tipple. Keeping the Monday morning blues at bay, Garage Coffee from Canterbury steamed in to take the Kent Non-Alcoholic Drink of the Year award with their Maypole Blend. While the coffee itself is fruity and robust, this roastery’s sustainability plans are equally strong, with fully recyclable bags and coffee which helps make a difference in the communities where it's sourced. Brew-tiful!

(C) Beardy Baker

Sweet treats

After all that coffee talk, we’re looking for an accompanying sweet treat in the form of Canterbury-based Beardy Baker’s Chocolate Brownies! Winners of the Kent Bakery and Confectionary Product of the Year, these chocolate morsels pack a lot of flavour and have the added win of being described by the judges as intensely chocolaty – honestly, what more could you want? Fancy adding a touch of decadence to your brownie? Street Farm Dairy’s Free Range Double Cream scooped up this year’s Kent Dairy Product of the Year award. Indulgent and almost like clotted cream, it doesn’t get much better than this, unless of course you take into account the fantastic community work this family farm has taken on in the last year, delivering milk products from field to bottle, to those sheltering or vulnerable during the pandemic.

(C) Brisket & Barrel

Savoury sensations

Give us a minute, because the winner of the Kent Ambient Product of the Year award is said to be the perfect accompaniment to cheese on toast and our stomachs are rumbling! Brisket & Barrel’s Ketchup Smoké comes from a passion for barbecued slow-cooked food with a French twist and feedback from customers to the team’s Sevenoaks-based deli and restaurant, which demanded more quantities of this deliciously smoky sauce be produced to be enjoyed at home – positive, eh? From smoky to smoked, our next winner, Tankerton Smokeshed’s Scottish Smoked Salmon not only caught the prize for the Kent Prepared Food Product of the Year, but they were also this year’s overall Kent Food Product of the Year! Five years of careful recipe curation, the finest Scottish salmon and 12 hours of smoking goes into the beautiful product, which was all started when the owner’s daughter Emily uttered the words, “You love food, Dad, and I know you can make it”. Thank you, Emily!

(C) Goupie

Going the extra mile

When it comes to sustainability, our Kent businesses really do work hard to make a difference, but this year’s winner of the Kent Sustainable Food and Drink Award, chocolate producers Goupie, astounded the judges with their continual focus on environmentally sound development and innovation. While the chocolates themselves are devilishly delicious, their philosophy around everything from their recyclable packaging, and waste management, to their 30-hour working weeks and thoughtful ingredients sourcing is positively angelic. The last 12 months have proven flexibility to be more important than ever and winners of the Kent Diversification Award, Foodari Limited, have certainly proven their ability to go the extra mile even during uncertain times. Quickly branching from being a supplier to the trade, to offering home delivery and serving local communities has seen Foodari prevent food waste, continue to support local farmers and deliver food to those who need it most. Safe to say their resilience and agility makes them worthy winners of not only this award, but the Kent Food Retailer of the Year award too!

(C) Cafe Nucleus

From farm to fork

Ask any of the winners we’ve mentioned so far and we’re sure they would say they wouldn’t be on this list without the amazing farmers and growers they work with, so we were delighted to hear about Eckley Farms’ award for Kent Grower of the Year. Focussed on community, sustainability and innovation, the Eckley family are worthy winners, with a real specialism in regenerative arable farming. A family partnership that has a farm on the Leeds Castle Estate, the team even produce Pure Kent Cold Rapeseed Oil from their very own produce. Ending with a bang, our final winners, Café Nucleus, are actually double winners, chalking up the Kent Food and Drink Business of the Year and the Kent Hospitality Business of the Year for their Rochester-based café! This small chain of continental style cafés has so many things to shout about, we’ll never cover them all, but we will say they deliver some of the best Kent food and drink around, connected with 41 local suppliers. What’s more, whether you ask their customers or their staff, you’ll soon discover this local business is a real Kent gem with charity and people at its core.