How long have you got…
We currently grow 20 different varieties of apples, the majority of which have never been grown this far north. Our cider apple orchards are, we believe, the most northerly in the UK and quite possibly the whole European continent.
Due to the reliably cool climate we enjoy up here, our apples ripen at least a month later than in the south meaning we start pressing anywhere from late November to late December.
The Cold Fermentations
As a consequence of our later harvests we ferment through the deep and unforgiving winters where again our cooler climate means our fermentations take about three months longer than almost any other cider maker on the planet. In fact it’s not uncommon for the juice to freeze solid for a few days at a time. Fermenting this cold may take a lot longer but it also allows the fragrant juice to retain as much fruity character as possible.
The majority of our ciders are wild fermented, meaning that only yeast found naturally occurring on the apples themselves are used to ferment the juice.
However each year we ferment some of our ciders using several different novel yeast strains which gives us even greater variation and choice when it comes to blending our final ciders. One of our more ‘exotic’ yeast strains was captured near the Muir of Ord where it was minding its own business on a sprig of heather. It gives a complex, piney earthy aroma which can be really interesting at low levels in a big, rustic style Highland Scrumpy.
The Whiskey Casks
We ferment and mature all our ciders exclusively in locally sourced oak whiskey casks because, you know, we’re in the Highlands…what else would we use?
The Long Maturation
After the cold extended fermentation is complete we just leave the cider alone until about June when, enthusiastically we start tasting the casks and planning our blends for the year.
Using small casks to ferment and mature our ciders allows us to pack in a huge variety of characters and styles into each blend. In our cider shed we have an incredible range of cider to choose from when putting our final ciders together.
When it comes to this final stage of our process we take a very much ‘hands off’ approach. All our ciders are both unfiltered and un-fined so absolutely no flavour is lost during excessive processing.