Showing posts with label Killahora. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killahora. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"We work on what the year gives us". Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

"We work on what the year gives us"
 
Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

A group of members of the Munster Wine & Dine spent a very enjoyable evening on a tour and tasting at Killahora Orchards near Glounthaune yesterday (Tuesday). Barry was our enthusiastic guide as we got both our whistles and our feet (aside from those who had brought wellies) wet in a most delightful way. 

Some of us had already marked Killahora products, including Johnny Fall Down cider, the Pom 'O Apple Port and their unique Rare Apple ice wine, among our favourite things. Those who hadn't come across them before were converted on this tour and tasting. And Barry (and his cousin Dave) who are responsible for this innovative orchard have more in the pipeline.

For more details on Killahora Orchards please check my January post here. Photos (and a few comments) from Tuesday's tour follow.

Blossom on a very young red fleshed apple tree. Rosé Cider?

Barry (striped top) finds a very stragglers under the crab tree. Lots of chat from Barry including pruning tips
and also the fact that cows don't like tannins!

Spray in the more established but still young orchard. The pears behind have already shed their blossom.

Promise of good things to come

Cork Harbour views from the orchards, above and below


Checking on how the grafts are taking.

Keeping out the rabbits. "We thought at first we and the rabbits
were on the same hymn-sheet but soon found out they
had their own agenda."

In full bloom. Not a crab tree, but a wilding and one of the most promising they found in the hedgerows/
It is coming in for particular attention "grafting the bejasus out of it". "We're going to keep
the wild ones going, to include in our mix."

The tasting line-up (some of it!). "We work on what the year gives us."
"In the cidery, we do as little as possible to it."

Another view of Cork Harbour

This Killahora tree appears on the Pom'O label.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Taste of the Week. Killahora Rare Apple Ice-Wine

Taste of the Week

Killahora Rare Apple Ice-Wine
Barry (left) and Dave
show their amazing ice wine.

This superb drink, particularly with its aromas and finish, speaks very much of the orchard, maybe even a touch of warm apple tart. Mostly, there is on the palate a well-balanced tension between the dry and the sweet, a sweetness that is not at all sticky. “A bittersweet symphony,” they say themselves. Not a bad summing up of our Taste of the Week.

There was a lot of love expressed for it on Twitter when it made its public debut recently. One enthusiast was so impressed that she cancelled her standing order for importing Canadian Ice Wine!

How do they make it? The juice of their rare apples (114 varieties growing here on south facing slopes) is concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.

I came across this a few months back as a matching drink for the superb cheese menu at SpitJack. Beautiful and rich, it was perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. More recently, I got the same magnificent result with the St Tola Ash Log, the two premium products mutually enhancing.

And where is Killahora? You might well ask. If you are lucky enough to get a bottle of the Ice Wine you’ll see a corner of an ordnance survey map from 1837 showing an orchard here on these warm slopes close to the village of Glounthaune just east of Cork City. Well over a hundred types of rare apples growing here now and it is here too that the bittersweet cider Johnny Fall Down is produced.

Killahora
Glounthaune
Co.Cork
PHONE 021 486 8177

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Taste of the Week. St Tola Ash Roll

Taste of the Week

St Tola Ash Roll
I know this has been mentioned here before but it is such a superb product that I just couldn't resist putting it up again. Bought half a roll recently in Iago (Princes Street, Cork) and enjoyed it no end.

It is an amazingly creamy cheese from the tough fields of St Tola in County Clare. The cheese has been rolled in traditional food grade ash when fresh. The ash slows down the development and maturation of the cheese and after a few weeks of careful handling, an elegant, smooth textured and full flavoured cheese emerges.

Take your time as you savour the special flavour and that smooth creamy texture; you might even notice the slightly grittier texture of the ash. Enjoy it on its own or pair it with either of these two delicious Irish products: Killahora Orchards Rare Apple Ice Wine or the Hot Crabapple Pot (if you don’t fancy the heat - it is mild - then try their Elderflower and Crabapple Pot) by Wild Irish Foragers and Preserves.

Gortbofearna,
Maurice Mills,
Ennistymon,
Co. Clare,
Ireland V95 XA9C.
GPS: 52.903140300  -9.178353600 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down. Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.

Busy 2017 for Johnny Fall Down.

Killahora Orchards Operation Expands.
Barry (left) and Dave

This time last year, most of us heard about Johnny Fall Down for the first time. Their Rare Apple Cider was hitting the shelves. And not staying there very long as it was being snapped up.

I first visited the orchard at Killahora, near Glounthaune, last March and met Barry and Dave. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants while Barry is the man that turns the fruit into alcohol. The combination is a natural, has expanded and is expanding. Watch these warm south-facing slopes for more delicious developments.

Then they had over forty apple varieties. Now, on last week's visit, they told me thay have over 114. They also have about 40 pear varieties here, the latest a bundle of young Welsh pears. A similar bundle is on the way from Austria (Barry is thinking schnapps!).

They now have three products available commercially, including the latest edition of Johnny Fall Down, their award winning Bittersweet Cider. They have also created a uniquely Irish Rare Apple Port (Pommeau), and the first Ice Cider created mainly from Bittersweet varietals. 

I came across the Pom’O and the Rare Apple Ice Wine at SpitJacks on Washington Street where they form part of the amazing Cheese and Fortifieds Menu. More details about the Pommeau here .

The Ice Wine which may, in the future, be barrel aged, is made from the juice of their rare apples, concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.

The south facing land exposed to the Atlantic, “gives us the opportunity to create an infinity of expressions of the land itself, that will surely change year to year, but we hope will retain a familiar style and optimum quality”.
Dave, with his Welsh pears

The pair are hugely enthusiastic about the future, Barry always thinking about the various blends that are possible and that will become possible as the trees mature. 

And it is not just the apples and the pears in their neat lines. The hedgerows around their 30 or so acres include fifteen old crab trees, all with different characteristics that show in the fruit (apple babies don't grow up resembling their parents). 

Even months after the crab crop had been gathered in, there was still enough solid fruit on the ground to taste last week. The first one we sampled was close in taste to a normal green apple, the second on the opposite hedgerow, was much sourer.

And, as if the 15 crab trees (some of them quite large) aren't enough, they have planted other fruits in amongst them. Early days yet! But it’s not all plain sailing. Storm Ophelia did some damage to the established fruit trees in the orchard and one or two in the hedgerow have been chewed by the local wildlife! 
The Future.

OS Maps from 1838 show an orchard in the same place as it is today, with the same old walls bounding it, and the same south facing slopes slowly ripening the best of fruit. The revival is moving forward impressively and with help from Mother Nature! A beekeeper, Mick, has been recruited to set up hives around the orchards and we met him during the visit.


The bees will be helping with pollination. Already though Barry is looking forward to an interesting honey. I think some of it will end up in bottles rather than jars! 

What is also interesting is that the operation has found a natural ally in the mixologists at Cask. They bounce ideas off one another and often find out that two heads are better than one. Recently,  with help from others, they combined to make the world’s first single field cocktail! 
View of Cork Harbour from the Orchard: Fota Island stretches along centre from the left. See its folly (the tower on the point) just beyond the railway bridge on the Cork-Cobh line, both in right hand quarter of pic.
Barry thinks Cask is a marvellous place, one of the best in Ireland and the UK, and was not at all surprised that the McCurtain Street venue swept the boards at the Irish Cocktail Championships.

Dave is just as enthusiastic (and knowledgeable) in his field. Last year, he showed his skill with tongue and groove grafting. While not quite the season for it, this time we got an example of Chip budding which is one of the easier forms of grafting. 

A bud, rather than a shoot, is attached to a rootstock to produce a new plant. With practice, this technique can be mastered by anyone and, as just one bud is needed to make a tree, it is very efficient. Amazing how one tiny bud contains all the genetic material necessary to take over the host.

If there’s a lot going on outdoors, there’s a hell of lot going on indoors. In the cidery itself, there all all kinds of containers quietly getting there. No doubt some “experiments” will be cut short but others will succeed. There are three ex Bourbon casks employed here. We got a taste of one, a very encouraging taste indeed with the promise of whiskey notes to come in some future Killahora product.

So what can we expect next from Glounthaune? An apple champagne, no less! It is underway. Lots of bottles standing upside down in the cool cellar, a 180 year old shed. Just like champagne, the sediment will be frozen in the neck of the bottle, disgorged and then replaced with a dosage (a little sugar). The mind bubbles. 
Beekeeper Mick



Monday, March 20, 2017

Johnny Fall Down. Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples.

Johnny Fall Down

Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples

A farm that has been recovered from a semi-wilderness is the unlikely scene for a craft cider revolution. Thanks to Dave and Barry of Johnny Fall Down we had a tour of the fields at Killahora (Glounthaune) last week where the south-facing slopes are planted with over 40 varieties of apple.

Not just apples. Pears are there in abundance. And other fruits trees too, including damson, plums. Even though this current operation started in 2010/11, there is a orchard history here, going back through the centuries, evidenced by an old wall (a relic of a walled garden). And reminders in the hedgerows, gnarled old crab trees and some wilding too.

And it is not just fruit either. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants and so here you’ll find some rare ones, everything from tiny Bee Orchids to huge (not yet!) Sequoias.

They focus on the rare apple varieties here, Barry tells me, as we climb the slopes. “They give us more punch.” And you can try that for yourself. Their first product, the Johnny Fall Down rare apple cider, is available around Cork city in various pubs including Cask and The Roundy.
The south-facing slopes are ideal. It just seems warmer there. And, by the way, there is a fantastic view, a panorama of Cork harbour and estuary and the islands, including nearby Harper’s and Fota. And birds of prey hover above on the thermals.

All the apples and pears (already in flower) are planted in neat rows, all tidy and well maintained. But those twisted old crabs trees in the hedgerows are amazing. The first one that we saw had hundreds of little apples, many of them quite sound, on the ground underneath, months after they had fallen. 
Dave (left) and Barry

And they'll soon have company. Dave and Barry intend to plant fruits and herbs in and about the hedgerows. In a few years time, you'll see cherries and more in the wild.

We were just in time to see Dave do a bit of grafting, a Turner’s Barn pear was being introduced to its host Pyro Dwarf. First he cut the Turner’s, at about 45%, down to the Cambium (layer of tissue in the middle), and repeated the procedure on the host. Then, the tricky part, making a tongue and groove so that the union would be even better. 
from an old crab apple tree!

Then he bound the two with a bio-degradable tape (keeps in the moisture and allows the graft to take) and it was ready to go. “Not rocket science,” he humbly admitted. But still one just had to admire the enthusiasm and the precision as he demoed the ancient art. After the demo, it was work as hundreds remained to be done!

Then, time for a tasting, starting with some of the single varietals. Some had the acidity to the fore, others sugar, others tannins. Getting the balance right is the challenge for Barry in the months and years ahead.
Could be drinking from the fruit of this in about five years time!

It won't be just cider. Already one of their products, a pommeau, is being used in cocktails. Barry also plans a Perry, champagne style!  Perhaps the one that made the biggest impression on me was the Ice Cider, even if it was still only half-way on its journey. I usually - inadvertently, I hastily add -  pick the expensive ones. “A lot of juice required to make this!”.

And soon we would say goodbye and leave this beautiful part of the parish behind. The terroir seems to be just perfect for purpose and Dave and Barry complement each other perfectly also. Their knowledge and expertise is top notch. 
Pear bursting out

And there is enthusiasm in abundance. More importantly though, there is patience, there is no rush, they’ll wait for nature (magic in those hedgerows in years to come) and produce accordingly. I can’t wait to see what Killahora comes up with next but Dave and Barry can and their products will be all the better for it. Watch this space.

An old crab tree

And what of the man himself? We read on our sample bottle that Johnny Fall Down is a rare apple cider, bitter-sweet with an abv of 5.5%, made from 42 varieties of cider, many of them unique to the Glounthaune producers. It has a lovely light amber colour, bubbles galore on the rise. Aromas hint of really ripe orchard fruit and there are hints of tropical fruit on the well balanced palate. The "rosé like" finish comes from a mix "of rarer tannins" that have matured for six months. Well worth waiting for!