2016 is a big year for food and drink here in Northern Ireland. We recently attended the launch event from Tourism NI which showcased some of the finest food produce in Northern Ireland, and indeed we’re blessed with some great local food producers here. One such producer is Abernethy Butter, who hail from the small Co Down village of Dromara. With this week being National Breakfast Week, and January being breakfast month here in Northern Ireland, we caught up with Allison and Will Abernethy to find out more about their award winning butter.
Interview with Abernethy Butter
1. How long have you been making butter?
We’ve been making butter for 10 years in total but 5 as a business.
2. What made you take the leap to turn your hobby into a business?
We saw the potential of it as a business and thought it would be something different to do.
3. You are the only Northern Ireland Company to use traditional hand methods to make butter. What are the main advantages of this and do you see your production methods changing?
Our production methods won’t change. We offer a handmade product and that is what we have to do. It is labour intensive but worth it when someone says how beautiful our butter is.
4. We have read that local farmers markets played a big role in the growth of your business in the early days. Are these local Northern Ireland markets still a part of your growth today?
We still like to do some markets but don’t have to do as many as we are so busy at home. It is nice to get out and about and meet the customers who buy our butter and support us.
5. You supply the 3 Michelin Star restaurant The Fat Duck owned by Heston Blumenthal with Abernethy Butter. How did this relationship come about?
He googled butter makers and up we popped. We were contacted and sent samples over and he loved the butter.
6. How important do you think local artisan food and drink producers are to the food and drink industry as a whole here in Northern Ireland?
It’s very important. The Artisan food industry is thriving at the moment. We make such good food in Northern Ireland, with real passion.
7. Where is the furthest place you have exported Abernethy Butter to?
The furthest place we have exported our butter to is the USA.
8. You also make caramel, fudge and flavoured butters. Is product development a big focus for the future?
Not really. Sometimes you can have too many products. We think it is better to make a few products and make them well.
9. With 2016 being the year of food and drink here in Northern Ireland, how important is it for consumers in Northern Ireland to support local food producers like Abernethy Butter?
All local food producers should be supported every year, not just 2016. The year of food will make others more aware of NI food. We are lucky to have Food NI and Tourism NI pushing and promoting NI Food.
10. Many famous faces have tried Abernethy Butter, but who are you proudest to have tasted it?
That is very hard to say as so many Famous people have eaten Abernethy Butter from The Queen to President Obama, but I have a soft spot for Marcus Waring and James Martin.
We’d like to thank Allison and Will for taking time to answer our questions and give us a little insight into the Abernethy Butter world. You can find out more about the butter by visiting abernethybuttercompany.com or following the guys on Twitter (@AbernethyButter) and Facebook.
A year of interviews on Pikalily
We’re planning a series of interviews with local food & drinks producers, restaurants and foodies as we celebrate an important year of food and drink here in Northern Ireland. Get in touch if you would like to get involved.
Photos courtesy of Abernethy Butter