Breda Butler

Balla butter among best 50 foods in the world

MILK may have been heralded as Ireland’s liquid gold, but it seems Mayo’s Cuinneog farmhouse country butter is solid gold.

The family business, established outside Balla in 1990, is celebrating its silver anniversary by achieving three gold stars at the Great Taste Awards - the top ranking available - as well as a place in the Best 50 Foods in the World, as judged by the Guild of Fine Foods.

Cuinneog farmhouse country butter was amongst over 10,000 products entered for this year’s awards. Only 130 were awarded the top award of three stars, which indicates a unanimous decision by judges that the product is ‘faultless’. 

The Mayo company supplies its butter, as well as its buttermilk and a speciality aged double cream, to top restaurants throughout Ireland and its products are widely available in supermarkets and food stores.

We are really delighted and proud to get this award, because we are really proud of our butter,” commented Breda Butler, who is the second generation of the business that was started by her parents, Tom and Sheila Butler, 25 years ago in response to local demand for proper country butter, a flavour that was disappearing.

We have resisted going with the latest trends and have kept to our original aim of recapturing the traditional flavour of butter known in every Irish farmhouse long ago. For us, it is all about that special taste, so it means a lot to us to have the butter recognised at such a high level by the Great Taste Awards.”

The awards organisers noted a return to ‘simple and traditional artisan foods’ as a clear theme in this year’s awards.

Cuinneog have been using traditional methods to produce their real country butter for 25 years.

Breda Butler, who recently took over the full-time running of the family business, remembers when her parents first started making butter in their family kitchen at Shraheens near Balla - fermenting the cream in a creamery can beside the stove and churning it in the traditional wooden churn or ‘cuinneog’.

Sadly Breda’s father, Tom, who founded the business, passed away just four months ago, aged 73. Tom was well known in the local community for his work in rural community and agricultural development.

My father was hugely committed to this business and very passionate about the country butter, keeping the tradition alive. So it is a fitting tribute to him that we get this recognition 25 years on from his founding of the business,” said Breda.

The Great Taste awards, organised by the UK Guild of Fine Foods, are recognised as the most prestigious and respected awards in the industry.