New innovator with Driver's Cider
The Irish Times.
Good news for designated drivers tired of flat water and fizzy
drinks. New to market is Driver's Cider, an alcohol-free artisan
cider made by the Kilkenny-based apple farm, Highbank Organic
Driver's Cider was created with "a little bit of alchemy" by Rod
and Julie Calder-Potts, who are the fifth generation of the
Calder-Potts family to live on the 54-acre farm at
Driver's Cider is made from cider apples grown specifically for
their flavour with processing in mind. This is in contrast to many
apple juices and ciders on the market that are made from lower
grade or reject apples.
Unlike normal cider, the Highbank product is unfermented and has
a natural sweetness, so it has no added sugar.
In addition to developing Driver's Cider, the farm has also
recently launched Highbank Proper Cider which, as its name
suggests, is the one with the kick.
Another unusual feature of the products is that each vintage
will taste a little bit different as apple harvests vary.
"Over the last number of years we have been looking at ways of
creating value-added products from our apples that would appeal to
local buyers, but also to the export market," says Julie.
In 2010 the farm launched the first of these products, an
organic pouring syrup that she describes as "Ireland's answer to
The product, which has a shelf life of two years, is now listed
in Selfridges and available in Germany, Romania, France, the US and
the United Arab Emirates.
"The cider came about as a byproduct of the syrup as we have to
filter the juice before we can turn it into syrup," she says.
"When the solids were taken out, we were left with a nice fruity
residue which we wanted to find a use for. We decided to add some
yeast and see if we could turn it into cider."
Julie estimates the cost of developing the new products
(including the syrup) at about €100,000 and the business has
received support from Bord Bia and the Leader programme.
The company employs four full-time and three part-time staff as
well as seasonal workers, and there are five more apple-related
products in development.
The next project is to build an automated glass-bottling line,
as the cider is currently bottled by hand, which is a very