Craigies Cider – From Wicklow’s Orchards To Kenmare’s Tables

We previously visited the wonderful West Waterford Food Festival as we’re always on the lookout for new & exciting tastes and inspirations to bring to No.35 Kenmare. By venturing outside of the county (where we’ve already got a vibrant Kerry restaurant/food & drink scene) to surrounding regions to source new ideas and ingredients we can continue to bring our customers the best that Ireland has to offer direct from committed & passionate suppliers.

“Gin, Whiskey and Cider were among the tipples highlighted in a drinks series at Merry’s Pub in Dungarvan as part of the West Waterford Food Festival. Simon Tyrrell spoke on Craft Cider on Saturday and gave us an idea of the challenges, both natural (weather, terroir) and regulatory (punitive duty), facing the new wave of producers.

Simon, a winemaker in the Rhone, makes Craigie’s Cider in County Wicklow, where his partners are Angus Craigie, Ralf Högger, Emma Tyrrell and Alan Garrioch.  Sourcing good apples can be a problem;  Simon is convinced that Ireland produces some of the best apples in the world “but difficult to find”.

Dabinett and Michelin are perhaps the best known cider apples in Ireland. Simon works a lot with Dabinett. “It looks awful, gnarled, small. The flesh is woody and it has tannins.” But these tannins give structure and also help the cider age and eventually helps the interaction between cider and food.

Cider makers only get one chance a year to get it right – a major difference with the making of beer! “We only make vintage cider, “ he said, as he introduced us to Craigie’s Dalliance 2012. “No blends from different years. Cider should taste different from year to year.” Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.

The apples used in 2012 were from the Cappoquin Estate. Elstar is a favourite with Simon: “the finest eating apple” accounts for fifty per cent of the blend. The varieties, the other is Falstaff, were fermented separately “because they ripened separately” and are then allowed sit on the lees for 15 months.

“You have pear and apple like flavours and a natural freshness. The PH, at 2.9, is very low and this helps protect the emerging cider”.

Craigies Cider At No. 35 Kenmare Restaurant

Next up for tasting was the Dalliance 2013 and there were differences, some down to the weather which was better for this one. June and July were very good months and September was above average.

“This is a different drinking experience. It is drier, has a less complex flavour profile but not the concentration of the 2012. Might get there but not sure!”

If the Dalliance illustrated the effect of the weather, the next cider, the Ballyhook Flyer, showed the way soil can impact on the cider. The Flyer is their “principal” cider and is made from 80% Dabinett (availability of this type is increasing) and also some Katy (desert) and Bramley. As he talked  us through the Flyer 2012, we could see that the “dry” sensation is more prominent than in the Dalliance. “Because the PH is higher.”

An extra orchard, near Carrick on Suir, was used for Dabinett in 2013. Here, a slight change in the soil type gave the cider more body, more tannin, and Simon is thinking of using barrel aging in future vintages of the Flyer to “help polish the tannins”. The aromas at this stage are less expressive. It has some of same characteristics as the 2012 but the style is “more gripping” because of the new source for the Dabinett.”

So if you are after a unique cider taste experience be sure to sample our Craigies Cider range when you visit No.35 Kenmare and our carefully selected menu ingredients will combine effortlessly with the authentic and vintage blends from this ever-popular Irish cider producer.