Article on Stonewell Cider for the Carrigdhoun Paper August 2020
Now if you, like me, enjoy the flavours of what cider brings whether its ice-cold on a hot summer day, mixed in with some delicious cocktails, spiced up at Christmas or to give your cooking that wonderful apple flavour then Stonewell cider is definitely a brand to look out for. Not just because they are local but because of their complex blends, variety of ciders and the fact they only use Irish farmed apples!
In 2007 after many years living in London, Daniel and Geraldine Emerson returned back to Daniels home town in Cork. With the recession hitting in 2008 and recruitment at an all-time low in Ireland Daniel continued to commute back and forth to London for work.
They had a small orchard on their land in Cork and their passion grew while Daniel experimented with the cider making process every weekend when he was home. Eventually, the travel was becoming tiresome and as Daniels’ knowledge and passion grew he decided to take that leap of faith and went to study the craft in Herefordshire and from there started the Stonewell Cidery in 2010.
Geraldine comes from a winemaking family in the Loire Valley and it happened that her father offered her their very first press. A very old fashioned manual one which they used for the first blend. A lovely gesture to get them on their way.
Right from the beginning Daniel and Geraldine wanted to make not just any cider but one that was produced using the finest quality apples and was free of artificial additives and colourings. The apples used for the cider are bought from Irish farmers in the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tipperary & Cork. They know these farmers personally and this ensures they understand the care with which these crops are nurtured and grown. The ciders are made from different blends of apples and some of the ciders are made with other fruits such as passionfruit and rhubarb.
I had the privilege of getting a tour of their manufacturing plant in Carrigaline by Ed who manages the running of the plant. It was fabulous to see how everything happens from when the apples are delivered, to the cleaning, crushing, pressing, filtering and fermentation cycles. The pressing season starts in October where they will be in full swing getting their large 16,000 ltr Cylinders filled. It was really interesting to hear that from delivery to bottling can take up to 3 years, who knew!
Their 1st cider produced back in 2010 was a medium dry which is still one of the most popular, since then they have grown their range which has stockists all over Ireland and also internationally. Locally, you can purchase them in Supervalu and Dunnes Carrigaline and Centra in Crosshaven.
They have won numerous awards over the years, too many to mention, and just recently one of the speciality blends Rós (made with apple and rhubarb) has been awarded the international gold medal prize at the International Apfelwein competition in Frankfurt. Rós was voted the Supreme Champion at Blas na hEireann 2016, the first time an alcoholic beverage won this prize so the additional Gold Award is a fantastic way to celebrate their 10 years in business!
Let’s have a look at some of the ciders available in stores.
- Medium Dry – The 1st of their ciders, with a wonderful fresh apple juice aroma this cider gives an initial burst of sweet apple flavour on the palate followed by citrus and woody notes derived from the bittersweet and Jonagored apples used as the base ciders
- Dry – A classic premium Irish cider that draws on the tannic bittersweet heritage of Dabinett & Michelin apple varieties grown in Laois and Waterford orchards. Crisp, puckering with a gentle astringency softened by the fresh eating apple juice used to back sweeten complete the cider; if your palate veers to the dry, this is the one for you.
- Stonewell 0% – a refreshing alternative for all those looking to avoid the sickly sweet mocktails or fizzy rock shandy at a social occasion.
- Tawny – An opulent, complex cider with chewy tannins and hints of fruit. Delightful as a slightly chilled aperitif but equally as a cheese or dessert accompaniment. This cider is made from the fermented juice of Dabinett & Michelin apple varieties and elaborated with El Dorado Dry hops
- Rós – This cider is made from a fusion of the finest rhubarb juice and the soft caressing flavours of fresh apple juice. It contains a complex range of flavours with the tart rhubarb characteristics complemented by full-bodied apple notes that create a smooth medium-dry finish.
- Passion Fruit – Passion isn’t in short supply at Stonewell and there’s been plenty of it over the last ten years. It seemed logical therefore that their 10th anniversary seasonal summer cider in 2020 should reflect that. Inside this bottle, you will find a fusion of fermented Jonagored, fresh apple juice and a hint of Natural passion fruit. A light yet fruity apple flavour with a hint of the tropics.
Right now they are in the process of making a speciality cider for Autumn to mark their 10 years in business which is an apple only cider that will come in a special bottle and will be out in the Autumn. From what I hear, for all you cider lovers out there, this is one not to miss.
As the passion continues so does their constant tasting and blending while they experiment to give their customers some wonderful cider options and not just cider but they are also currently in the process of trialling the making of apple brandy and a beautiful oak cider wine blend.
So if you’ve not tried Stonewell then the next time your in stores pick up a few bottles and give it a go. You will not be disappointed! You can find out more on their website (www.stonewellcider.com) and if you’re on Instagram give them a follow