Locally produced cider has made a big comeback in recent years, and there is nowhere more fitting for that to happen than Armagh, The Orchard County. At Ballinteggert House, just outside Portadown, the Troughton family are the fourth generation to grow apples. Their Orchards have been established here since 1898.
Philip and Helen Troughton own the Armagh Cider company. It was Philip's father who planted the seeds of success, with a long held dream to make the stuff on the Armagh farm. With an upturn in the apple market, he focused instead on producing fresh cooking apples for retail and also supplying to a commercial cider maker.
The cider dream was once again brought alive by Philip and Helen, who decided it was time to realise the ambition of Philip's father 'TG'. Carson's Cider was introduced in 2006, handcrafted on the farm from Troughton's own fresh orchard apples, with the help of master cider maker Keith Knight from the UK.
Carson's Cider was highly praised and its popularity grew, along with a demand for the Armagh Cider Company to make healthy apple juice as well. 'AJ' Apple Juice was born in 2007 with the help of juice maker and fellow Good Food Ireland member Con Trass. Since 2009 production of all products has been undertaken entirely on the farm.
Philip and Helen's son Mark has become immersed in the cider and juice making process, handling everything from pressing to bottling. All apple juice and cider is made from Ballinteggert's home-grown apples, with the orchards managed by the family from blossom to full fruit to bottling the end results. It's a great success story culminating in awards being won in recent years. The newest cider on the block is Madden's Mellow - already winning awards like its stable mates.
Armagh ciders look set to rise and rise in success and popularity. Recently introduced products include a vibrant sparkling fresh apple juice that can be served any time of day, and a full fruity apple juice flavoured with Blackcurrant or Wild Berry which makes a deliciously quenching drink. Honey Hill Apple Punch is a non-alcoholic subtly spiced juice to serve hot.
A warming glass of Molloy's Mulled Cider has aromatic spiciness, perfect for all those autumn and winter parties. And for the cooks among you, the Armagh farm's Cider Vinegar is wonderful in salad dressings and a small splash really peps up a stew of chicken, pork or beef. Cider vinegar is also renowned for its health giving and medicinal properties so look out for this one to combat all sorts of ailments!
All Armagh Cider Company products are produced naturally and fly the flag of local produce for local people.