Showing posts with label Cider. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cider. Show all posts

Friday, May 24, 2024

Drink of the Week. Killahora Pét-Nat Rare Bittersweet Cider 2022

Drink of the Week

Killahora Pét-Nat Rare Bittersweet Cider 2022, 6.0% ABV, Ballymaloe Food Festival

Pale orange is the colour, with a fountain of little Bubbles rising through the haze to the top. The apple in the aromas is subtle rather than strong. In the mouth, there’s a nice balance of acidity and tannins.

On the palate, it may be best for me to take a step back and just endorse what Killahora say: This is a real expression of our natural terroir and will appeal to those who may enjoy other wild fermented liquids such as lambic beer, especially Oude gueze, and natural wines.  The complexity that can come from ciders such as these will undoubtedly surprise and delight those who try it.

And yes I am delighted with it as I also like those Belgian beers. This bottle contains wild fermented ciders aged in neutral Irish whisky barrels and allowed to mature in their cellar.  Each production is unique…it is 100% Killahora terroir-based juice, wild fermented, cask aged and unlike most ciders you’ve tried.

With its acidity and tannins, it is a real food all-rounder. They advise to serve it with cooked meats, oily fish or roasted vegetables. Or, of course, serve it lightly chilled and enjoy it as an aperitif.

Pét-nat – pronounced pet-naa – is short for Pétillant Naturel, meaning naturally bubbling. It is a return to tradition in sparkling wine production and here is used in cider. The method may be borrowed from the winery but no one would mistake this complex sipper from Glounthaune for a wine!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Non-Alcoholic Cider Gems By Highbank and Stonewell

Non-Alcoholic Cider Gems 

By Highbank and Stonewell 

Two of the best non-alcoholic drinks, across cider, wine and beer, that you are likely to come across. 

Highbank Organic Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Drivers Cider, 0% ABV, 330 ml bottle, Ballymaloe Food Festival

Made with Organic Cider apples from the Highbank Farm in

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A delightful déviation to the cider and poiré of Normandy

A delightful déviation to the cider and poiré of Normandy.

Thanks to a family gift! Some of the family were on holiday in Normandy a month or two ago and came back with cider and poiré bought from two local farmers, a very enjoyable gift indeed! 

Ferme du Bénété Cidre Fermier Demi-sec 5.5%, 750ml 

This farmhouse cider from Normandy has a deep orange colour, a murky one. It has a natural effervescence so be careful when removing the cork (treat it like a champagne and you or anyone close by won’t get a black eye).

It is fresh and amazingly delicious, round and fruity and bubbly and semi-dry.  Yann Borey, selling this at a local market, had nothing but praise for Irish cider but not too many producers here make anything like this beauty.

This  “is our raw farm cider.…”. “This powerful cider, derived from the assembly of 4 of our apple varieties (Bisquet, Clos Renaux, Douce Coet, Marie Ménard), will perfectly accompany your meals. To be served fresh.”

He produces it in Russy, Normandy, at the the Bénété Farm, a farm dedicated to the manufacture of cider products. They are in conversion to organic farming with the end of conversion scheduled for next year.

Pacory “Le Doyen” Poiré Domfront (AOP) 4 ABV%, 750ml 


A lighter gold colour, fountains of bubbles rising through the clear liquid. Bread-y and fruity in the aromas, some funky notes too. Light bodied and effervescent, round and ample and refreshing, this Perry is a very good one.

They say: “..beverage is 4% alcohol and goes down easily for an everyday treat or mixing in cocktails.  The sweetness is balanced with acidity.  Enjoy!” By the way, poiré has been called the Champagne of Normandy, because of its bubbles and pretty golden colour. The producers say it is the perfect accompaniment to every course from aperitif through to dessert. 

A farmhouse in Normandy

"The Doyen comes from the last manual picking under our century-old white plant pear trees. Harvested and selected fruits can be compared to late harvest, mature pears. The Doyen produced in the tradition of the Gromaux terroir, is a rich pear, charming and complex, inherited from the savoir-faire of our ancestors."

Pear cider (known in France as poiré) has been produced in Normandy for the local markets for hundreds of years.  In the 11th century, pear trees were already planted in Normandy when cider-making apples arrived from Spain, apparently from the Basque country.  Then, in the 1990s, a handful of producers decided to work together to promote poiré and to protect the local landscape.  The Domfront area is home to orchards that are unique in Europe, with more than 100,000 pear trees, close to 100 varieties, and an average annual production of 25,000 tonnes of pears that will go to produce pear cider.  

An AOC was formed in 2002 that protects the quality of the product. AOP/AOC means that production is in accordance with specified criteria and so is a guarantee of both origin and quality. They only use specified varieties of poiré pears, among them the “Plant de Blanc” that gives Poiré Domfront AOP its particular character and the fruit is collected at maturity after falling from the tree rather than being picked.

Links to explore:

Domfront AOP:

Cider route:

Tronquay Poiré Bouché Fermier Michel Renee, 4% ABV

Michel Renee is based at Tronquay in Normandy, close to Bayeux and its famous tapestry, also close to the D-Day laying beaches. Here he makes everything from plain juice to Calvados from his apples and, from pears, produces this Poiré. The cellar is located in the heart of the Calvados de Normandie appellation area and his parents have always grown apple trees here. 

This cider pours a light straw with a big white head that doesn’t last kissing time.  It is a bit on the hazy side but not so much that you don’t see the fountains of small bubbles crowd towards the top. Aromas are of the orchard. And the palate is a thing of beauty, a gorgeous burst of flavour from the fruit warmed by the summer sun, the finish quite dry and refreshing. 

Tronquay “Terre Mer” Cidre Bouché Fermier Cuvée Portaise  Michel Renee, 4% ABV

This farmhouse cider from Normandy has a mid gold orange colour. It is clear so you can see the many bubbles rising. Again the flavour is full and typical, the finish refreshing and dry. Another fine example of the craft in these parts.

Tronquay Cidre Bouché Fermier Brut Michel Renee, 4.5% ABV

Lovely gold colour in this one and streams of bubbles rising up. Aromas probably more apple-y than the previous one, the Terre Mer. No shortage of flavour here either but this is classed as brut and the fact that it is very dry tones down the flavour a bit. But, on a hot day, after a bout of physical work or play, this is the one you’ll reach for.

Cidre Bouché ("cider with a cork") is made entirely from apple juice. A maceration before pressing removes bitter tannins. A still cider is placed in a Champagne-style bottle and a second fermentation is initiated to add natural sparkle. Other styles may add carbon dioxide to create the fizz. - from Wine Searcher. All my six bottles came with a champagne style cork but not all were marked Bouché.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tipperary’s Longways Cider produce excellent results through working with nature. A Quart of Ale± #102

A Quart of Ale± #102

Tipperary’s Longways Cider produce excellent results through working with nature

A 25-acre apple farm is home to James O’Donoghue and his family who have been producing some of Ireland’s best cider apples for many years. Surrounded by nature, the orchards are also home to sixteen Irish honeybee colonies that pollinate the entire orchard.

Founder of Longways Cider, James O’Donoghue is an expert beekeeper and was awarded the Silver Medal at Britain’s prestigious National Honey Show in London – 1996.

They say: Every drop of Longways Cider captures the essence of the .. rolling countryside of the Suir Valley in South Tipperary that provides the perfect conditions to produce truly outstanding apple juice and cider. Our cider is brewed from carefully selected Irish apples, grown exclusively at Longways Orchard.

For a good illustration of how Longways cider is produced, check out this section of their website here

“We set out to craft a cider which embodies quality, character and consistency, a philosophy we have adopted in apple growing over the years. We have created a vibrant, fruity modern cider with buckets of apple flavour and a smooth finish which pairs well with food or can be equally enjoyed on its own, with friends.”

Longways Medium Sweet Elderflower Cider 4.5%, 500ml bottle

Strong pink colour with a myriad of bubbles rising. Elderflowers surprisingly head up the aromas with a background of ripe juicy apples. And that is the mix on the palate as well, with the apples coming on stronger here. It is classed on the label as medium sweet and that is probably accurate enough though maybe (and happily) not as sweet as I anticipated, especially at the finish. Flowers from the spring and apples from the autumn orchard make a lovely refreshing summertime drink. Enjoy!

By the way, if you are having a reception this summer why not try using this eye-catching pink drink instead of imported sparkling wine. At just over four per cent abv, your guests will thank you, if not that evening, in the morning after!

Longways Tipperary Medium Dry Cider 4.5%, 500ml bottle

This Medium Dry Longways is “blossom to bottle”, made with Irish apples from the Suir Valley, has a light golden colour and no shortage of bubbles. It boasts the ripe aromas of orchard fruit. And that soft fruit continues pleasingly on the palate balanced with a tingly acidity, the initial (slightly) sweet notes turning into a (slightly) piquant finish. Also notice the lip-drying tannins. Another pleasant and refreshing number from Longways.

Longways Sweet Katy Cider 4.5%, 500ml bottle

This medium sweet cider, made from sweet Katy apples, has a lovely gold colour, with lots of bubbles sparkling. Aromas of the red skinned apples invite you in. And medium sweet probably sums this up, though nowhere near as sweet as I thought it would be. The flavours are supple, apple and strawberry, and this well balanced juicy Longways finishes with a slightly tangy note. Getting to like these Longways. Must make sure and get a few in for the brighter warmer days ahead.

Monday, April 4, 2022

"More pétillant than fizzy". Another amazing new cider from Killahora:

Another amazing new cider from Killahora: "more pétillant than fizzy"

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.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Legacy Cider. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! A Quart of Ale± #96

Legacy Cider. 

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

A Quart of Ale± #96

There’s going to be some top notch cider coming your way in Legacy bottles soon. On a visit to the Dungarvan based cidery last week, I got a hint of what is around the corner thanks to owner Liam McDonell. 

And there’s a lot of it here, so no worries about supplies. Some 80,000 litres slowly working its way towards maturity (it takes 6 to 9 months) and more in casks, bottles and other containers that pack the floor of the facility.

The original legacy.

“Since you’re here, why not try some straight from than tank," offered Liam. He explained that they do single variety fermentation here with the blending coming at the end, after much sampling of course!

The Michelin variety is common in cider production and we headed to that tank first. It is a medium bittersweet cider with soft tannins. A few sips and we could see that, while very dry at present (all cider apples are dry), it is, in Liam’s words, “coming along nicely”.

Pat and Liam

Next up was a tank of Elstar and John O’Gold. This was lighter in colour than the Michelin with its characteristic pear drop showing well. Dabinett, another well-known cider apple (which also produces a bittersweet juice), was also true to character. Bramley is well known to cooks and usually eaten cooked due to its sourness and that went down well with CL, much to Liam’s surprise.

He is obviously looking ahead to getting all this liquid bottled and on the way to a wide spread of customers. He’a also looking forward to their cooperation with Cape Clear Distillery who have provided Legacy with some barrels, previously used for gin and for white wine. And they also have some barrel aged cider on the way; the process is quite well advanced and should be ready before the end of the year, certainly for Christmas. Also on the schedule for Christmas and before is an Apple Wine (using those wine barrels from Cape Clear!); it will come in a 750ml bottle.

There be good things here! Patience required.

And what was Liam doing when we arrived? Why, beginning work on their mulled cider for next Christmas. The 2021 edition went down very well but, as they started it in the autumn, the production coincided with their busiest time of the year and caused something of a bottleneck in the premises (which is big but not that big!). It is blended with award-winning Legacy Irish Cider and spiced with winter warming spices including cloves, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon and more; a heart-warming drink to enjoy with friends and family. By the way, the spent spice mix finds its way to restaurants and into some tasty dishes!

Keep an eye out
 for this later
in the year!
While Legacy Cider is a relative new company, having been started in April 2016, apples have been very much in the McDonell family for at least three generations. Liam's grandfather was one of a number of locals encouraged by the government of the day to grow apples, And there was an apple market right where we were in Dungarvan. Indeed, Liam still uses some small wooden crates in which his grandfather stored and transported the apples. The venture eventually petered out as the group, with no value added, weren’t getting reward enough for their produce.

But the seed had been sown and Liam’s dad Pat took a different route. “My Dad became passionate in apple tree growing, achieved a PhD in the subject and developed his own miniature apple tree!" Pat still runs his own company and is “the chief advisor" at Legacy. As Liam said:  “He’s a wise old sage with over 40 years of experience.” 

No wonder Liam went into apples, eventually going on to found the well-named Legacy. The Legacy Dry was their original cider. Liam is as enthusiastic as ever about it: “It’s my favourite as I think it has a lovely balance between sweet and dry. There is a 'good bite to it' as I’ve been told oftentimes, this 'bite' is the strong Bramley flavour coming through.”

And he is very happy also with their Legacy Medium. “This is a crowd pleasing cider; easy drinking, great flavour profile, natural apple aroma. Great with good friends, a warm sun, a good sporting occasion or kicking back on your own.” This one is a bit like the Alsace Gentil wine: it has no less than six varieties: Elstar, Bramley, Discovery, Katy, Michelin and Dabinette. 

Latest: Catch Liam talking about yeast and more on Beoirfest this coming Saturday. He'll be joined by  Brewpub De Kromme Haring and Eik & Tid who will bring the beer experience. Interested? Register here for free.

Also on this trip:

Dine and Stay at The Tannery

Copper Coast Road

Trip to Mahon Falls in the Comeraghs

Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #79. A craft session of Brehon & Hopfully with cider from Stonewell & Mac Ivors.

A Quart of Ale± #79

On the craft journey with a session of Brehon and Hopfully and cider from Stonewell and Mac Ivors.

Stonewell Cask Irish Craft Cider 9.5% abv, 75cl bottle Bradleys

“It’s not often that one gets to indulge in two of one’s passions, for me that’s cider and whiskey,” says Daniel Emerson as he introduced his latest cider.

“I have added cider for 6 months in fresh whiskey barrels, kindly lent to us from a distillery in East Cork, then blended it with a select bittersweet ferment to create this woody tannic cider with whiskey overtones. It is effervescent, opulent, viscous and rich in character, but not for the faint-hearted.”

The amber colour is that bit darker than normal. Aromas are of moderate intensity but very much of the orchard. The whiskey cask makes its presence felt on the palate, adding a slight toasty flavour. It is smooth and delightful, with a bitter-sweet finalé, an amazing amalgam of the orchards, the cidery and the distillery. Very Highly Recommended (unanimous here - not always the case!). Go get it!

The Stonewall and Nohoval listing already contains quite a few innovative ciders from Daniel and wife Geraldine. As they say themselves, it takes courage to only use apple juice to make cider and more courage to take it a step further as they have done here. Their apples come from orchards in Waterford, Tipperary and Laois.

Starting this year, when you buy a bottle of Stonewell Cider, Stonewell will make a donation to the Irish Bee Conservation Project (IBCP).

These funds will go towards the general activities of the organisation, including the creation of pollinator trails, the construction of bee lodges and raising awareness of the plight of the Irish Bee species. 

Mac Ivors Traditional Dry Cider 5.6%, 50cl bottle Bradleys

Mac Ivors, inspired by the aromatic ciders of Northern France, made this Traditional Dry Cider, an elegant blend of over ten different apple varieties. “Our crisp Armagh Bramley apples balance the fragrant flavours of traditional dessert apples and bittersweet cider apples, giving a deep and dry cider style.”

It is a much lighter colour, as you’d expect, than the Stonewell. Aromas are yeasty, a little sourness there. And on the palate it has deep apple flavours (thanks to the slow, cool fermentation), and is dry with a lip-smacking finish. One tarty tipple for sure, the tannins drying those lips.

They also do a Medium Cider, a Plum & Ginger, a White Reserve Cider, a Non Alcoholic version, and a Juicy Session Cider.

Armagh is well known as “The Orchard County”. It is here that Mac Ivors Cider has its roots.

“Our farm was established in 1855 in the townland of Ardress. Our cider takes its name from our Cider Maker, Greg Mac Neice’s grandmother Annie Mac Ivor.

Annie, her husband Matt Mac Neice and their nine children had a passion for apple growing. Her son Sam and her grandson Greg continue that tradition, farming over 100 acres of prime Armagh orchard, packing and processing the apples grown and now making great craft cider too!”

The 2013 Cider Celebration was held at the Apple Farm in Cahir and a great day it was too with cider makers from all over the country displaying their produce! Good day for Mac Ivors as their sweet won the Best in Show in that category. Would love to see that Celebration revived!.

Brehon Brewhouse Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout 5.0%, 440 can Bradleys

Beware The McMahons”
It wasn’t the Vikings you had to fear, it was the McMahons. Or at least that’s how they tell it in this part of Ulster. We were the notorious ruling clan for centuries, raiding the Pale for whiskey and beer. These days, we brew our own….. once we’ve finished milking the cows. Always ready for a quiet pint.”

And this Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout is a winner. At least, it was my favourite beer in 2020 and this current version smells and tastes just as good. It is not be hid under a bushel; it is a star in this particular firmament. 

Black as a wet sod after a rainy week in the bog. The fleeting head has some of the colour of a well-dried sod. Aromas also from the dark side: coffee and dark chocolate. And that theme continues on the palate. 

But it is not exactly like other oatmeal stouts, not over-rich. There is a balance, a harmony, that lifts this toasty stout well above the normal. All before a lip-smacking finish. Try it out for yourself! Best served around 8 to 10 degrees. That’s more or less what I wrote last year. No need to change much, I’m delighted to say.

They say: “A sweet, toasty Oatmeal Stout with a dark chocolate and coffee finish. Bottle conditioned with strong notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt and liquorice. Hopped with magnum.  Full bodied and full of flavour, this cozy stout always hits the spot. Ideal with game or strong red meat, smoked meats and hearty stews. Also great with desserts such as chocolate, caramel or dark fruits.”

Hopfully Tangerina  DIPA 8.5%, 440 can Bradleys

“Here’s our new and ‘very limited’ edition small-batch brew, Tangerina Double IPA 8.5%,” said Hopfully back in September.

It has a slight murky orange colour and the white head doesn’t last too long at all (despite the fact that Dextrin is one of the malts used). It is packed with “a gorgeous amount of whole tangerine purée” and you do get it in the aromas. And very much so on the palate, thanks to the addition of the purée. And then it seems to fade out at that - just wondering if that addition was over-generous. Tangerine for sure so it does what it says on the tin. Dry at the end.

The label names the malts; Pale, Oats, wheat, Vienna and Dextrin. “Drink fresh - do not age.” Hops are Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops into the whirlpool and “dry-hopped this beauty with Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, and Centennial”. 

This artwork is a master piece by @staselejakunskaite and is part of her SWAP project in which parts of common images or situations are swapped with each other creating new somehow unusual and surprising senses and ideas. Staselė is a Lithuanian visual artist and illustrator working in fields of conceptual illustration, advertising, publishing, indie print projects, and murals. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Taste of the Week. Stonewell Tawny.

Taste of the Week

Stonewell's Tawny Cider.

At a discussion, featuring three cidermakers, on Beoirfest earlier this year, Stonewell’s Daniel Emerson was asked how his stunning Tawny came about. Through a collaboration with local brewer/distiller Sam Black was the answer. “El Dorado hops added complexity and helped balance the extra sugar. “ 

Tawny is truly special. It is a rich, opulent and viscous apple wine, dark in colour and possessing complex bittersweet flavour. Tawny can be consumed as a slightly chilled aperitif or it also performs excellently as an accompaniment to cheese or desserts.

It has been compared to sweet wine and sherry. Stonewell advise using it as “a slightly chilled aperitif but equally as cheese or dessert accompaniment”. 

At the Ballymaloe LitFest 2016, expert Pete Brown (author of World’s Best Cider) was impressed after tasting it and said it reminded him of a Canadian Ice Cider, “beautiful’.

“A well-produced cider can stand shoulder to shoulder with good wine,” says Daniel . “The reaction has been extremely positive, I haven’t heard one negative comment so far. It won a prestigious Pomme d’Or award at the Frankfurt Apfelwein Welweit."

It keeps well and has an abv of 15%. It is described as “an opulent complex cider with chewy tannins and hints of fruit. Delightful as a slightly chilled aperitif but equally as a cheese or dessert accompaniment”.