At Craigies we only use Irish apples, sourced from dedicated growers primarily in counties Waterford, Tipperary, Cork and Kilkenny. Over the years we have developed close links with the apple growers and work with them throughout the year in order to be able to work with the best quality fruit possible. We believe that Irish cider achieves its greatest complexity and expression as a blend and that each apple should reflect its regional origins as well as its specific fruit characteristics. We also strongly believe that our ciders should reflect the year in which the fruit was grown and so only produce vintage ciders.
Each variety is handled separately in a careful, time consuming manner. The apples are first washed and then broken down into a pulp before being pressed using our 5 ½ ton pneumatic press. The juice is then allowed to settle for twenty four hours before being fermented in tanks of different volumes ranging from one thousand to ten thousand litres. Temperatures are kept low in order to preserve and maximize the fruit characteristics and as such the alcoholic fermentations can last up to at least one month. The ciders are then settled over winter to allow them to develop their full aromas whilst sitting on their fine lees. Once malolactic fermentation is complete each tank is then tasted and judged on its own merits before being blended and bottled.
2013 was a welcome return to a more normal vintage after the difficult growing conditions of 2012. The year began with a very cold winter and continued this way into early spring with March being the coldest month of the year. Flowering took place in early May in very settled conditions and was followed by a wonderful early part to the summer with the highest temperatures recorded since 2006. This was coupled with the some of the driest conditions for twenty years with rainfall across the southern counties being recorded at 75-85% below average. Katy was the first variety to reach maturity and the harvest began in the second week of September. Dabinett was the last variety harvested with our final bins arriving in the last week of November – making it a very long harvest!
2014 followed on in the same vein as 2013 and first indications are ciders of real concentration and depth. Flowering conditions in spring 2014 were mixed with below average rainfall in April but higher than average in May but with both months being warmer than the LTA (long term average). The months of June and July were exceptional growing conditions with below average rainfalls and warmer than average temperatures, July being one of the warmest in twenty years. A cooler and wetter August prevented an early harvest but conditions in September with 25% less rain and higher than average warmth provided excellent conditions for picking this most promising of vintages.