Words by Simon Difford
What’s in it? How long has it been aged? Where is it made? And by who? These are just some of the questions asked by today’s discerning drinkers. Add queries over allergens, vegan friendly, Kosher, added sugar and “craft” status. Sadly, such information is not widely disclosed and this led us to launch our Quality Stamps to help our readership make informed decisions about what they drink.
We have long indicated our assessment of a product's quality with a star rating out of 5 but this is judged purely on what we know, can see and taste. Since May 2016 we have further differentiated products we consider worthy of recommendation - those we rate at least 4 stars and that fully disclose product information - by displaying our green Quality Stamp alongside our reviews.
These Quality Stamps are designed to give discerning drinkers a visual reassurance as to a product's quality and provenance. We impart as much detailed formation - as many as 80 individual facts about each product, as much as the brand owner is willing to disclose to use.
Brand owners will find our simple, mostly box ticking and drop-menu interface easy to use, allowing them to quickly impart a large amount of information. Their answers, subject to our approval of their Product Listing, are then displayed on that product's dedicated page on Difford's Guide.
We want brand owners to view our Quality Stamps as a positive addition to their product reviews on Difford's Guide, benefiting discerning drinkers seeking assurance as to the quality and provenance of their product, hence we have made disclosing information as simple as possible.
We are keen to list products for sale on Difford's Guide that we have sampled and rated at least 4-out-of-five and with their quality and provenance assured of by full disclosure by the producer/brand owner via our online Product Listing form. We only issue Quality Stamps to such products.
Consumers keen to support artisans who have a stake in the products they make and we seek to support these "craft" producers by indicating which of the products we recommend are 'Artisan Crafted'. Hence, we will issue an additional Artisan Crafted Certificate to those distillers, brewers, blenders and winemakers who retain an active hands-on role in production and also have 5% or more ownership in the company/business owning the product(s) they make. Note, they have to own a stake in the product itself - we want to help discerning drinkers find products that are made and owned by artisans. Unlike "craft" we think this has real meaning.
What are the benefits for producers, brand owners and distributors?
Each product that qualifies for a Difford's Guide Quality Stamp receives:
• Quality Stamp displayed next to relevant product review on Difford's Guide
• information disclosed about product available for our readers to view
• the ability to direct consumers and trade opinion formers to a dedicated product page
• periodic promotion on Difford's Guide as a product we highly rate and so recommended
• high-res artwork of the Quality Stamp for use in media and advertising
• permission to use Quality Stamp on packaging during the year and following year of certificate being issued (renewable in subsequent years).
How long is a Difford's Guide Quality Stamp valid for?
Quality Stamps are valid for the year they are awarded, and the following year. For example, stamps awarded during 2017 state '2017 and may be renewed in January 2018 causing a new 2018 Quality Stamp to be issued. Or the 2017 dated Quality Stamp may continue to be used through 2018 and renewal delayed until January 2019. Renewal is dependent upon a product maintaining at least a 4 star rating and is conditional on full disclosure of any changes.
Applying for a Quality Stamp
You'll find a link to update a Product Listing alongside every product on this website and we issue Quality Stamps to all products we rate at least 4-out-of-5 and where brand owners have imparted sufficient information.
To list new products simply complete our online Product Listing form.