International Cider Challenge rewards Northern Irish ciders

Article by Sam Butler

Two Northern Irish companies have won medals at the recent International Cider Challenge 2016. The winners were Armagh Cider from County Armagh, Northern Ireland’s ‘Orchard County’ and Kilmegan Cider of Dundrum, county Down.

Kilmegan Cider, run by Andrew Boyd and one of Northern Ireland’s most recent cider producers, was among just eight major trophy winners and also won a gold medal for its handcrafted Real Cider in the ‘Bottle Conditioned/Bottle Fermented’ category in the competition organised by the UK’s Off Licence News magazine.

The small business, started in 2013 by Mr Boyd, a longstanding cider enthusiast, also won silver for his Irish Farmhouse Cider and bronze for Cider Infused with Wild Elderflower. The company also gained silver medals for all three ciders in the design and packaging category.

Armagh Cider, Northern Ireland’s longest standing cider producers, gained silver medals or its Madden’s Mellow and Madden’s Special Cask, a wood-aged cider and a bronze medal for its Doyle’s Summer Fruit Cider.

Armagh Cider is a family business owned run by Helen Troughten using apples mostly from its own orchards.

The challenge attracted ciders from Great Britain, Republic of Ireland, France, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Japan, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand and the US.

The trophy for Kilmegan Cider is the first time that a major award in the International Cider Challenge has gone to an Irish processor.

Both successful Northern Ireland companies have won UK Great Taste Awards in the past.

Mr Boyd, commenting on the new trophy and medals, says: “I’ve been immensely encouraged by the awards. I intend to keep Kilmegan Cider as a specialist craft business with an emphasis on hand production and quality first.

“I’ve never really liked the overly sweetened ciders made with apple concentrates, water and chemical enhancers. Choose the right blend of apples for the cider and sweetening juice and there is no need for additives,” he adds.