Killahora Orchards Bottle Conditioned Dry Bittersweet Cider 2019, 5.9%, 750ml (champagne style) bottle
Colour is close to that of apple juice. Quite murky though, so you won’t see the bubbles rising unless you look down on top of the glass. Remember though that the goal here was “to be more pétillant than overly fizzy” and that has certainly been achieved.
Aromas are definitely of the orchard. There’s quite a posse of flavours on the palate, delicious light fruit flavours (not just those of an Irish orchard), moderate spices too, and just the slightest hint of the oak. Amazingly well balanced and a long dry finish.
Be sure and swirl this around on the palate, the better to appreciate the many qualities of a rather special drink, a flavourful and honest record of the south-facing Killahora slopes where the apples were grown and the cider made.
This is a “first production” version, a blend of some of their finest ciders from 2019 (mostly), barrel-aged and allowed to mature in the cellar. “It is our first production of a pure dry bottle conditioned cider made from 100% juice, wild fermented and with nothing added. Serve at 8-10 degrees and with spicy foods or meat.”
That blend? Killahora: It’s a ‘3 year blend’ inspired by Belgian Oude Gueze – so takes c. 30% from 2018 barrel aged cider, 55% from 2019 barrel aged and the remaining 15% from our 2020 harvest from the fermentation tank. This hadn’t fully fermented so gave a bit of residual sugar but more importantly a fermentation kickstart – we didn’t want to add commercial yeast.” The final label will have a gold foil on it and will be based around a 2020 blend, but with very similar characteristics.
The producers recommend a serving temp of 8-12 degrees. “Chill horizontally and pour first few glasses without pause to minimise sediment if the aesthetics are preferred – however there is a lot of goodness in the lees so don’t be shy to drink it!”
“As a pairing,” they say, “this is robust in taste so would go well with pork belly, Korean chicken wings, Mexican, oily fish like mackerel and funky cheeses.” We tried it with Pork Belly (with some apple sauce made from The Apple Farm’s Bramleys) and it worked a treat.
Killahora have noted “more interest internationally in these natural wine style productions which really show off the potential complexity of cider when we step away from the more accepted methods of industrial production. Would appeal to natural wine and lambic drinkers as well as seasoned cider drinkers.” Personally, I’m not too sure you need to be a seasoned cider drinker to enjoy this beauty, our Taste of the Week.