Today I had the incredible opportunity to visit ‘Armagh Cider Company’, a unique bottling operation just down Drumnasoo Rd. in Portadown, Co. Armagh.
The Armagh Cider Co. has been on the same land in 1898, run by the same family, but only just started producing cider (hard and juice-type) in 2006. The entire process ‘from blossoms to bottle’ happens right on their farm, and owner Phillip Troughton -his great-grandfather was the first to run the land- was kind enough to give us a first-hand look at the whole process. They use Bramley apples, unique to this part of the world, to produce a variety of apple juices and hard apple ciders.
What I found fascinating was the sheer number of operations happening on the farm all at once. Not only does the Armagh Cider Co. run on the land, working the whole cider-production process, but they also bottle a number of beers and ciders for local micro-breweries, including Bru and a local elderflower-apple cider which I definitely recommend but unfortunately don’t know the name of. The same family and plot of land also makes a beautiful variety of Rosettes that they supply the local horse industry with, and even harvests sperm from a number of Studs they keep in stables. Add that to the four dogs, children and employees, and Phillip’s plot of land is an incredibly busy place.
I think it’s truly a testament to the Irish people. Northern, Southern, Ulster-men or otherwise, there is an incredible sense of hard-work and survival that seems to come with the territory. Even if it means running three businesses and a zoo on the same plot of land, it is not questioned and is merely done.
There is also a huge sense of growth and adaption. Going forward the Armagh Cider Co. wants to develop into an visitor-friendly agri-tourism hot spot, inviting people to come to a winery-type setting and see the process from blossom to bottle, sampling and purchasing the product on the spot. Current licensing laws and infrastructure don’t allow for it, but I do hope to see it happen one day for Phillip and his family.
And maybe when I come back to Armagh in the future, I can go get a taste of Armagh Cider right from the bottling plant, or even back at home in Canada. In the meantime though, I’ll just get it at Sainsbury’s.