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Brandt recently shared some insights on behind the scenes at the Great Taste Awards, what it's like at the judging table and some tips on how to help your product stand out and be remembered as a winner.


Congratulations to everyone that picked up a Great Taste award recently! I hope it gives your brand a nice little boost...

It got me thinking again of the number one tip I often find myself suggesting to people who are looking to submit products to the awards, so I thought I would share it on here.

Having been on both sides of the judging process many times (both judging and submitting samples to be judged), this is what I learned...

On the submission forms, take the time to write the tasting notes of your products as well and as thoroughly as you can, BUT make sure you only include notes that the judges are actually likely to detect. Let me explain...

All of the judges are different in terms of background, experience, palate sensitivity, etc etc. Many people taste things differently and have their own preferences - after all, the enjoyment of food and drink is highly subjective (which I believe is a good thing).

So, let's say you have a chocolate brand. Internally, with all of your experience in tasting cacao varieties, fermentation levels, conching profiles, you can detect delicate notes of sour cherry, liquorice, leather, dried blueberry, the wet grass of a cold Tuesday morning in Snowdonia, etc etc. So you think, 'well, let's definitely include all of that in the submission document'.

The danger comes that if the judges (who may have just tasted a barrage of vegan bacon, miso ice cream, and 7 different varieties of balsamic vinegar) cannot detect those notes during their tasting session, you run the risk of being marked down for it. I've seen it happen so many times. Especially in instances where judges either disagree or do not have the experience/confidence in a particular category, they revert back to the submission sheet to see if they can objectively score the product based on how closely their findings match what is written in the tasting notes.

I'm not saying 'don't add much detail to your tasting notes', I'm saying keep it in language and at a level that a broad range of experiences are likely to appreciate.

'Fruity, smooth, rich, mouth-watering, sweet, fragrant, balanced, delicate'. These are the type of words that are accepted within submission rules, and I suggest are a good starting point and should be weaved throughout your tasting notes.

Then, if you're confident that there are other flavours and characteristics within your products that the judges will clearly be able to detect, feel free to weave one or two of those in two. Tell a story with them - how do the tastes and flavours unravel and evolve as you eat the sample?

Finally, I'd like to say that whilst I think it's great to receive the feedback and suggestions from the judges on how you could improve your products, keep their feedback in balance with all other sources (yourself, your consumers, people whose opinions and taste buds you trust).

I've submitted countless Green & Black's chocolate samples over the years, and we would regularly receive feedback suggesting how to improve our skus such as the Dark 70% chocolate, or our Butterscotch milk chocolate bar. Meanwhile, they're amongst the best-selling premium chocolate products in the UK, with a huge army of loyal consumers who rave about the taste, and the likes of Jamie and Nigella proudly showing them in their cooking shows when suggesting (unpaid) to 'make sure you use the best quality chocolate for this recipe'. So, keep all feedback in balance.

I hope this helps for future awards and next year's' GTA!

I am going to finish with a small brag and a shout out to the brands/products that the Tastehead team worked on who picked up awards this year:

The Kraft Heinz Company

Nourish by Jane Clarke


Savyll Beverage Company

Mergulo Vegan Butter

Stratford Sodas

(apologies if I missed anyone!)

Well done all, let's get even more next year!!

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