One of eight IFWG Award winners, Killahora Orchards is a family business founded on an estate dating back to 1837 where more than 130 varieties of apple and 40 perry pear varieties are grown. Combining an interest in horticulture, fermentation and flavour as well as mixing traditional artisanal production with new techniques, Killahora Orchards set out to push the boundaries of what can be made with Irish fruit.
The range includes craft cider, apple port, perry and its premier drink, Rare Apple Ice Wine, for which it won the IFWG’s Drink Award.
It’s made in a similar way to ice wine in Canada (which uses grapes), by slowly freezing apples and then thawing the pressed apple juice to create a much richer must than from regular pressing.
It’s then partially fermented to keep the natural sugars intact, providing a balance between the 11% alcohol level, the fresh, bright acidity and a delicate, pure sweetness. Recommended as a dessert wine, it works equally well with pork and cheese.
Now in their 25th year, the IFWG Food Awards celebrate indigenous food producers and organisations, north and south of the border, who help to maintain Ireland’s outstanding reputation in food and drink.
This year’s winners include cheesemakers from both sides of the border, organic spelt berries from a farm in Louth, the above-mentioned rare apple ice wine made in Cork, a well-known Dublin coffee brand, a goat farm in Antrim and one of Ireland’s best-known butchers and food champions born in Kildare but who operates from County Down. The Guild also presented its Community Food Award to one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations.
“With the food industry gearing up for the impact of Brexit and with the threat of UK tariffs a real possibility, it’s incumbent on us all – government, industry and consumers – to protect and support our abundance of incredible food producers who’ve played a significant role in helping position Ireland as a food tourism destination,” said Kristin Jensen, IFWG Chairperson speaking at the annual Food Awards.
She urged all sectors of society to embrace sourcing, buying and eating local, high-quality produce, “ensuring that all our wonderful producers survive and continue to thrive as they face into a period of great uncertainty.
“Today we are honouring eight outstanding winners who represent so much that is great about the food and drink industry in Ireland. They have created sustainable businesses, have continuously looked to innovate and have been singled out because of the outstanding quality of their produce and dedication to Irish food.”
The other seven award winners were:
Food Award: Hegarty Cheese for Teampall Gael Cheese (Co Cork)
Food Award: Mike Thomson for Young Buck Cheese (Co Down)
Food Award: Dunany Flour for Organic Spelt Berries (Co Louth)
Outstanding Organisation Award: 3fe (Co Dublin)
Environmental Award: Broughgammon Farm (Co Antrim)
Community Food Award: Cork Penny Dinners (Co Cork)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Hannan (Co Down)
The IFWG Food Awards are unique, as no one can enter themselves or their product into the awards and no company knows it has been nominated or shortlisted for an award. The Guild is the sole nominating and decision-making body. The exception to this is the Community Food Award, for which the Guild invites nominations every year from the general public as well as their own members.