Blackwater Honey were co-founded by brothers Andrew & John Shinnick who hail from the parish of Ballyhooly near Fermoy, Co. Cork. Both began their beekeeping careers at a very early age with their uncles Dan & Andy as teachers and mentors. They are now the 3rd generation of beekeepers in the Shinnick family to carry on the art of beekeeping. Between them, they have impressively amassed over 60yrs of practical beekeeping experience. Andrew, who is the driving force behind the Blackwater Honey brand also works as full time Senior Army Officer within the Irish Defence Forces. Meanwhile, his brother John, is a full-time farmer tending to a large Dairy herd alongside both of their parents and looks after the logistical side of the business.
Blackwater Honey, which was officially launched in 2020, has its roots, focus, and aim firmly set on producing ‘a high quality Raw Irish Honey’ made by the Native Irish Honeybee – Apis Mellifera Mellifera (AMM). They produce several artisan honeys like their multi award winning Blossom honey. Andrew informs us that ‘this was a finalist in Blas na hÉireann – Irish Taste Awards and which also won a Gold Star in the Guild of Fine Food awards – UK Great Taste Awards. It was also a finalist and winner in the Irish Quality Food & Drinks awards 2021.’
He also went on to say that they also produce a wonderful Heather honey. This was also a finalist and winner in the 2021 Irish Quality Food & Drinks Awards. Andrew stated that their Heather honey is sourced from the Dublin & Wicklow & often the Tipperary Mountains. This he says, produces a wonderful aromatic honey which, according to a 2018 Trinity College Dublin study, is comparable to Manuka honey. When tested, it was found that Heather Honey had a higher TPC (Total Phenolic Content) and thus a higher antioxidant capacity, and Irish heather honey had the highest TPC of all Irish single origin honeys and even had a higher TPC than Manuka honey. Andrew said this is extremely exciting news for Irish Beekeepers. He said perhaps we should be ‘capitalising on this research and perhaps should be marketing Irish Heather honey the same way New Zealanders do with their Manuka honey.’ He also stated that they also do a very limited run of Ivy Honey soft set honey, something which they may ‘expand in the future.’ As he said, ‘it’s popular with certain customers.’
Such a success is their operation and their raw Irish honey, that their soft set Honey went on to win a Gold Medal at this year’s Blas na hÉireann – Irish Taste Awards. Andrew stated that this was a ‘great surprise and great success for not only for them but for beekeeping in general.’ It goes to show you that pure Irish Honey is often undervalued. The amount of enquires from retailers having won a Gold in Blas na hEireann has opened many doors for the business from retailers such as Supervalu, Dunnes Stores, and several health foods stores. For now, he said ‘they are happy just to keep and maintain the local customer base they have but he did state that in time they want to ‘expand the business.’
Andrew went on to state that in addition to winning the above awards, they also won the overall ‘Food Category’ winner in the Irish Country Magazine – Irish Made Awards 2021. They impressively beat off contenders like Ballymaloe foods (who were the runner up), Ashes Annascaul Black pudding, Nutshed, Gino’s Gelato, Mana Nigi’s and many others. This is a huge credit to them and their vision in producing a limited, but extremely highly sought-after natural Irish food product.
Along with raising breeder queens, selling nucleus colonies, and producing award winning honey they also are very much focused on biodiversity and sustainability. They give away free wildflower seeds with all their honey and offer a ‘Adopt a Hive’ for corporations under the ‘Corporate Sustainability Responsibility’ pillar of business for them to meet their obligations to achieve the ISO standard 14001:2015. This he stated ‘will help those businesses improve their image and credibility in tackling the climate crisis’ whilst helping to ‘raise awareness of the plight of all pollinators and of course the bees which are being constantly threatened by lack of biodiversity and due to pests and diseases along with the threat of hybridisation by imported honeybees. In fact, such a success is their adoptions that he said, ‘there is normally a waiting list to get involved.’ For more information on their story, their successes or to buy some of their multi award winning honey then you can follow them on their social media accounts all of which, are all linked on their website www.blackwaterhoney.ie