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The Guide has always championed the best of Irish produce. It’s the philosophy behind our food recommendations and the Natural Food Award has emphasised this for many years, by specifically celebrating establishments that create a meeting point between the best and freshest local produce and the consumer.
The original aim was to recognise specifically “an individual or team, driven by a total commitment to using the very best of fresh, seasonal and mainly local foods – and preparing them simply and with style, to showcase their natural goodness and the quality produce of the locality”. It now also includes food products, producers and retailers as well, along the lines of entries in our regional food tourism guide, Ireland for Food Lovers.
The revival of craft brewing has been one of the biggest stories in Irish artisan production in the last few years and, while new craft beers have hit the market with dizzying speed, craft cider making has gradually been re-establishing itself and a number of excellent naturally made ciders are now available.
Especially appealing, we think, is Longueville House Cider, which is made by William and Aisling O’Callaghan of the renowned country house hotel and sporting estate, Longueville House, in Mallow, Co. Cork, from their own apples. It all started when William’s father, the late Michael O’Callaghan, planted 20 acres of cider apples in 2000. He was keen to create a product like Calvados, and the superb 40deg Longueville Irish Apple Brandy is now distilled annually.
Recently, William has brought the cider production to another level, while maintaining the very natural process - crushing, pressing, fermentation, filtration, light carbonation, pasteurisation. No colourings, additives or preservatives are used and everything is done on the farm except bottling, which is done at The Apple Farm near Cahir.
Medium-dry, with a fresh appley flavour, Longueville House Cider is a gorgeously refreshing drink - and as far from commercially produced ‘cider’ as can be imagined. And their Irish Apple Brandy is unique - the perfect gift.