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Under a wall of brambles, some twenty feet high, in 1967 my father, Maurice Boyd discovered the old orchard that had been planted some seventy years previously beside the old farmhouse he and my mother (Anne) had purchased. With the back drop of the majestic Mourne mountains, in the beautiful scenic part of Co. Down near the village of Dundrum, growing up here with a garden full of apples was as good as it gets.

However, although there were some twenty odd trees of different varieties, only a few were at all palatable to me or my brothers Graeme and Jonny or sister Suzanne. “Eat too many of those, you’ll get the collywobbles.” my mother used to warn. Although my mother made lots of apple tarts (best in the world, by the way) and my father who made the occasional batch of wine it was the blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings and dammed wasps that seemed to be the main benefactors of this seasonal bounty.

Realising that due to there originally only being a well as a water supply to the farm, the previous occupants didn’t grow all this fruit to become a Co. Down version of Mr Kipling but to produce cider for the summer months when the well was low.

So in 2009 my wife Karen and I set about trying to make a batch of cider. Using a strong bucket and a 4” wooden fence post, we laboured for hours to mash up enough apples to put into my fathers wine press and produce a gallon or two of juice. We then simply put the juice into a demijohn, added some champagne yeast, stuck on an airlock and let nature take its course. After a few months the juice had cleared, fermentation had stopped and hey presto our first cider was made. It didn’t taste anything like the mass produced cider I had vowed to NEVER AGAIN drink as a 16yr old on a cursed camping trip with school mates.

This beautiful amber liquid was a revelation to me. Tasting fresh and crisp and as natural a product as you could wish for. Using no added acids, sugar, water or concentrates this was, to me, REAL CIDER and so it began. “Less is more” they say and we agree.

Although or methods of producing our juice have thankfully changed (we are now using a proper apple mill and rack and cloth press). Our principles have not Get the proper blend of apples, extract the juice, ferment and leave to mature for six to eight months and as it are made with 100% fresh pressed juice you will taste the difference.

Kilmegan Cider - County Down

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