One of the reasons it is so easy for Hawke's Bay residents to buy local is because we have some of the best produce and products in the world.
The Damson Plum Collection has just added to this with its damson gin liqueur being named the best fruit liqueur in the world at a prestigious international competition.
The Damson Collection's Damson Plum Liqueur won not only the Best New Zealand Fruit Liqueur gold award, it also took the top honour for World's Best Fruit Liqueur, at the World Liqueur Awards 2020.
That's an amazing achievement and owner of The Damson Collection Fiona Tomlinson is understandably over the moon.
"We [her son is part of the business] entered at Christmas and entries closed in February. Then Covid-19 happened and everything shutdown," Tomlinson said.
"I didn't know that the process had gone ahead until a got an email at 5am saying we were the best in the world.
"It was just an incredible feeling. It was a long wait for people to wake up so I could share my news. I ended up sending a message to a friend in Spain," she laughed.
She said while the validation from experts that the product was world class was amazing, one of the best things about winning the award was "actually getting the lovely emails and messages from our customers about the product".
"I love that they take the time to send a message and in many ways, though it may seem a little corny, it's great to be able to share this award with them because without customers we have no business even if we have the best product in the world.
"Today I've had emails and Facebook messages from people I've never met but who buy a variety of our products — how nice is that?"
Each of the 150-plus entries was categorised into 18 genres, including fruit, honey, spice, coffee and cream and this year was tasted in isolation at home by each of the 14 industry experts.
The judges praised the Damson Plum Liqueur for its "aromas of tropical candy initially, before being presented with acidic notes on the palate" saying it was "vibrant in flavour" and had lingering notes of tropical fruit.
"Our damson are grown using sustainable practices on an orchard located on the Heretaunga Plains, and the plums' tartness makes this such a unique marriage of flavours.
"Damson Plum Liqueur is really versatile spirit – great on ice, with bubbles, or in a cocktail."
Damson Plum Liqueur is part of a range of premium jams, cheese accompaniments, sauce and vinaigrette that started life at the Hastings Farmers Market.
Gin has become really popular recently and Tomlinson thinks it is partly due it "its air of sophistication".
"A decade ago it was all about vodka. But now gin has come into its own, it's a lot more botanical and layered in flavour.
"For us this award is just the beginning. It's so exciting."
To find out more go to www.thedamsoncollection.co.nz