Tipperary apple farmer aims for sweet success with two new craft ciders

Longways Cider is made near Carrick on Suir

Aileen Hahesy


Aileen Hahesy

Longways CIder

Two new varieties of Longways Cider available now

A Carrick-on-Suir apple farmer has developed two new brands of his award winning Longways craft cider.

James O'Donoghue who farms 25 acres of apple orchards near the Dovehill Irish Design Centre a few miles from Carrick-on-Suir, launched his new Longways Sweet Katie and Elder Flower ciders at the Bank of Ireland Enterprise showcase in the Loreto Secondary School in Clonmel last weekend.

Both ciders have taken James two years to research, develop and produce and like the original Longways cider are ideal for drinking with food.

Longways Sweet Katie cider is named after the Sweet Katie apple fermented to create the drink.

"The Sweet Katie is a beautiful dessert eating apple and when it's fermented it creates a lovely delicate tasting cider," James explained. "The cider is sweetened with apple juice which gives it a lovely aromatic taste. The only sugar in this drink are the natural sugars from the apples," he added.

According to James, the Sweet Katie cider is suitable for eating with white meats and soft foods while the other new brand, the Longways Elder Flower cider, is a perfect accompaniment to desserts like pavlova.

"The Elder Flower is made from Sweet Katie apples infused with wild elder flowers from Tipperary that we get from the Irish Hedgerow Company, who extract the aroma and flavours of wild elder flowers."

James and two part-time workers produce the Longways ciders, which are bottled by Donohoe Drinks Company in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford and at Con Traas' Apple Farm near Cahir.

Creating a news cider is a long and complex process that according to James starts with picking the right type of apples, testing them out by fermenting a batch. Then you must trial different types of yeasts to choose the one most suitable to use in creating the raw cider and after leaving the fermented apples to mature for about six months you begin the blending process to develop the right combination of ingredients.

"It takes a minimum of two years and you then hope the consumer likes it," says James.

The Co. Cork native worked as a farm manager at O'Shea Farms in Piltown for about 15 years and purchased his own small farm at Ballynoran, Carrick where he has grown 20 acres of apples on contract with Bulmers for the past 18 years.

"We supply Bulmers with about 450 tonnes of apples a year for this contract, which has been excellent. We planted an extra five to six acres of apples about 8 years ago because we saw a market developing for craft ciders and in 2011 I went to England to study cider making."

After completing this course, James set to work developing the Longways Cider brand and received mentoring and assistance from the Super Valu Food Academy Programme run by Bord Bia, Tipperary Enterprise Board and Musgraves.

The Longways craft cider drink first went on sale in November, 2014 and has won a Blas na nÉireann Gold Award and a Gold Award from the British Bottlers' Institute.

James says it's made with traditional bitter sweet apples and is lovely to drink with spicy foods such as curries.

Longways Craft Cider is sold in many Super Valu stores around the country and local stores with off-licences. The brand's two new ciders are now on sale in local stores.

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