World champion marmalade makers whose products have wowed royalty are aiming to enjoy the sweet taste of success with their new gin and lemon variety.
Brian and Carol Horwich, owners of Pant Glas Bach Preserves in Axton, Llanasa, in Flintshire, have clinched a bevy of food industry accolades in the last 12 months.
Now, they are about to unveil their latest flavour at this year’s Hamper Llangollen food festival on October 15 and 16
The couple, who launched their business eight years ago, beat off strong competition from Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Korea and America to win two gold and two silver awards at the 11th World’s Original Marmalade Awards, held in Penrith, earlier in the year.
The achievement, which has led to stockist enquiries from as far afield as Rome, was followed up by a Great Taste Gold Award in August for the company’s Smoked Chilli and Garlic Jelly.
As the couple prepare to launch the Lemon and Dyfi Gin Marmalade at Hamper Llangollen next month, business couldn’t be better.
“Winning the World’s Original Marmalade Awards was one of the highlights of our journey so far and it gives you the confidence to carry on,” said qualified accountant Brian, 57.
“We don’t work nine until five or just five days a week but it’s very rewarding. You can see the results of your hard work and appreciate them. There’s nothing better than having someone buy and use your product and then coming back for more. You don’t get that feeling with another job.
“The awards recognise our quality and the only way small businesses like ours can achieve this recognition is by pitching ourselves against others. We’ve won awards over the years but this year has been truly outstanding because we’ve put ourselves forward.”
The World’s Original Marmalade Awards attract around 3,000 entries every year including hundreds of global producers.
Pant Glas Bach Preserves secured coveted gold award status for their Breakfast Marmalade and Grapefruit, Lemon and Lime Marmalade while their Satsuma and Grand Marnier Marmalade and their Ginger Marmalade scooped silver awards.
Manchester-born Brian, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, started the business in 2008, alongside wife Carol, 56, a business administrative worker, after taking a career break from his accountancy work.
The couple bought a small holding just outside the village of Llanasa and began growing fruit and vegetables, making marmalade and other preserves for friends and family with their excess stock. It wasn’t long before they realised their recipes were good enough to sell.
Eight years on, the business produces around 70 flavours including the popular Wales True Taste gold award winning Blackcurrant and Liquorice Jam. Their products are stocked in approximately 15 stockists in and around North Wales.
And they are reliably informed by one of their customers their jam was chosen for a hamper by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to North Wales.
“We are still based at home,” admitted Brian.
“Sometimes it takes over the house but it’s manageable. We have two kitchens now and a home area and a work area. It works better.
“We both do everything. We cook up ideas and discuss what will and won’t work.
“I’ve been on a career break for 13 years and still haven’t gone back – I prefer to do this. It’s a better work and life balance.
“It’s a very different lifestyle for me nowadays. I have no suits or ties anymore but it’s a much better quality of life. We chose to go into business at the right time as I was in a position to be able to do it.
“The Lemon and Dyfi Gin Marmalade is something we’ve created very recently and it’s gone down very well with the samples we’ve given out. We are using the gin from the micro-distillery in Corris”.
“We do very few festivals but Llangollen is one of those we always attend. People are always very receptive there and our customers are very loyal. There are people there year after year.”
The couple continue to grow their own apples, plums, pears, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants and have built a new polytunnel to grow chilli however increasing demand has meant they cannot grow everything they need for their products.
“The celebrity chef Raymond Blanc has a saying that if you can grow 20-30% yourself and another 30% from local producers, then you’re doing very well,” said Brian.
“We try to buy local wherever possible.”
The couple are excited about the future but have no plans for rapid expansion in the pipeline.
“We’re going to keep on doing what we do well and not overstretch ourselves. We want to serve our customers well and that’s important to us,” said Brian.
According to Hamper Llangollen chair Colin Loughlin, he can’t wait to try the new Lemon and Dyfi Gin marmalade from Pant Glas Bach Preserves.
He said: “Having enjoyed such a fantastic record of international success, I am sure this new marmalade will be utterly mouth-watering and will undoubtedly perk up my morning toast.
“Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality products.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of the local economy.”
For more information about Hamper Llangollen go to www.llangollenfoodfestival.com