Belfast Telegraph

Cider company tastes success after winning farming award

By Linda Stewart

A Co Armagh craft cider company has become the first Northern Irish business to win a National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award.

The awards, supported by Freedom Food and now in their eighth year, celebrate the breadth and quality of produce grown, reared or made on places owned or managed by the National Trust, including tenant farms, orchards and gardens.

Mac Ivors Cider Co has grown out of a small family firm that has farmed in Ardress, Co Armagh, for the past 150 years.

The small apple growing and processing business nestles among its own orchards and has grown up organically around the family homestead. Using hand-picked apples from its orchards, the company produces its award winning cider on site.

Greg MacNeice manages the business along with his father Sam MacNeice and they farm 22 acres of Trust land, all of which is in apple orchards.

"Having grown up surrounded by apples, cider seems like a natural choice, but it was not until I tasted the fragrant and aromatic 'cidres' of northern France that I was inspired to use our own delicious apples to create our own distinctively Irish craft cider," Greg said.

"We have been making our cider for just over two years and in the last year we sold approximately 150,000 bottles of Mac Ivors in markets as diverse as Ireland, Scotland, Finland and Germany. Over the next five years, my goal is for Mac Ivors to define what is essentially a new drinks category – Irish craft cider.

"We are immensely proud to receive such a prestigious award from the National Trust.

"We have an amazingly close relationship with the National Trust, sharing the same values and ethos and above all, sharing a love of the land."

Rob Macklin, Head of Food and Farming at the National Trust and chair of the judging panel, said: "Since 2006, over 250 products have received a Fine Farm Produce Award."

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