Boost for local cider as Greg toasts international taste success
The quality and taste of Northern Irish apple cider was showcased again by the success of MacIvor’s Cider of Armagh in the recent International Cider Challenge (ICC).
Based on family-owned orchards near Portadown, MacIvor’s gained two important medals for its locally produced ciders in the international competition.
The company, run by Greg MacNeice, also the master cider maker, was recognised for its plum and ginger and traditional dry ciders.
Greg said: “We are thrilled that the quality and outstanding tastes of our ciders have been endorsed in the international awards.
“The recognition will be immensely beneficial as we continue to grow sales, especially in Britain and the Republic of Ireland, our two most important markets.
“The awards showcase Northern Ireland’s continuing emergence as a source of great tasting ciders.”
With a spread of entries from five continents and 60 cider makers of varying sizes, this year’s ICC saw 16 golds, 53 silvers and 53 bronze medals.
Judges included cider makers, drinks writers, wholesalers, on and off-trade owners and buyers.
This year’s ICC saw a change in categories in an effort to move away from geographical focus, with West Country becoming Tannin Led and New World becoming Acid Led.
Tannin Led, Acid Led and Flavoured were the biggest categories, with a reduction in Low & No, Perry and Pear Cider.
Golds were awarded across Acid Led, Rosé, Naturally Sparkling, Speciality, Wood Aged, Ice and Tannin Led, which made a comeback after winning no golds in 2021.
Among the themes that stood out was an increase in bold flavours – for example, Blood Orange, Grapefruit and Plum and Ginger among others.
Now in its 12th year, ICC is the most authoritative, respected, and influential cider competition in the world.
Judges include some of the shrewdest cider judges in the land – retailers, importers, producers, and writers.
Judges study each cider in turn, considering the appearance, the aroma, the taste, and the finish, before discussing their findings with other judges and reaching a consensus on which medal to award.
The level of knowledge and experience of the judges is striking and for a cider to achieve any kind of medal from such exacting critics is a real achievement
Greg, who founded MacIvor’s Cider in 2011 and a fifth generation family apple grower, continues: “From our delicious Traditional Dry Cider with its incredible depth and long lasting flavour through to our unique rosé coloured Plum and Ginger cider, to our new Alcohol Free Cider for those who want all the taste of real cider without the alcohol, we believe that there is something for everyone in our product range.
“These Irish craft ciders are made entirely from the juice of fresh apples – four whole apples in every bottle,” adds Greg.
The company also supplies cider products to Dunnes Stores, SuperValu/Centra and Tesco for stores in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It has supplied Marks and Spencer stores in Northern Ireland.
MacIvor’s Ciders, in addition, has won UK Great Taste Awards and Blas na hEireann Awards for outstanding quality and taste.
MacIvor’s is a key player in Northern Ireland’s dynamic cider sector, which has been racking up important deals in export markets.
Other export-led cider companies from Armagh to win external business include Armagh Cider, Long Meadow and Tempted, all based on apple orchards in Armagh.
Armagh and Long Meadow have both been shortlisted for this year’s Blas na hEireann awards in Dingle, County Kerry.
Long Meadow, a family business owned by apple farmer Pat McKeever, wife Catherine and son Peter, has won business with major UK online grocer Amazon as a result of a collaboration with a Cheshire craft brewery assisted by McCracken’s Real Ale, also based in Portadown, and is now growing sales in Britain.
Tempted, another craft business in Armagh founded and owned by Davy Uprichard and wife Janet, has won breakthrough business with Ocado, the UK’s biggest online grocer, which has particularly strong sales in London and the Home Counties.
The important deal with Ocado is an outcome of the endeavours of Drinksology Kirker Greer in Belfast, Tempted’s distributor in Britain and other international markets.
The achievements of MacIvor’s, Armagh, Long Meadow and Tempted outside Northern Ireland signal the region’s growing emergence as an internationally rated cider producer.
Irish cider is also seen by Bord Bia, the energetic Irish food marketing body, as a business sector with a bright future, especially in international markets.
And Pete Brown, an acknowledged expert writer on cider based in Britain, has lauded Northern Ireland’s “unique cluster of processors still making cider from pure apple juice, mostly sourced from their own orchards” unlike many producers outside Ireland which produce cider from reconstituted concentrate.
Greg MacNeice, founder and managing director of McIvor’s Cider in Portadown, has been successful in the International Cider Challenge.
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