Who Are They?
Killahora Orchards – a family owned orchard in the heart of the North Cork hills with a history and heritage going back over 200 years. Cousins Dave Watson (AKA “Tree Geek”) and Barry Walsh (AKA “Booze Geek”) make a range of artisan drinks, derived from the native-variety apples (and pears) from their old-growth orchards.
What are they best known for?
Their punchy, distinctive cider, Johnny Fall Down and their Killahora Apple Ice Wine, an 11% abv dessert wine that is as rare and distinctive as anything you will taste. There’s also a Pom’O Apple Port, inspired by the traditional French apple port, Pommeau.
How Do They Do It?
They mix heritage, family tradition and a deep knowledge of the apples and pears they grow (some from trees up to 150 years old) – with an adventurous, slightly bonkers spirit. There’s nobody else doing this in Ireland. There’s no ready-made market and and no real roadmap to follow– that hasn’t stopped Dave and Barry.
The first question they’ll often get is; “What the hell is Apple Ice Wine?” – the second is usually; “Where can we get some more?”
Have They Been Successful?
In a very short space of time, they’ve taken their cider (not such a hard sell in Ireland) and their Apple Ice Wine (utterly mysterious until you taste the first drop) to a large and growing market. The lads have already conquered Cork, now they are looking further afield to the UK and Europe. Their Johnny Fall Down cider has already won gold medals in Ireland and the UK.
What Is Their Philosophy?
“We are artisan producers. We make an expanding range of unique drinks that seek to elevate the perception of what can be made from apples and pears, and reflect the taste of the land and the year in which they’ve grown”.
What Does The Future Hold?
More drinks, more experimentation, more adventures with fruit. There’s a fermented Perry Pear Poiré on the way, making use of a variety known (rather marvellously) as Hendre Huffcap.
Can I Meet The Maker?
Do they allow site visits, tours etc? They have had some “unofficial tours” of the orchards, they are planning to do official tours in the near future.
Are They On Social Media?
Try @Johnnyfalldown on Twitter.
And Finally, What’s Their Pro-Tip When It Comes to Food, Drink or Entertaining?
Barry says; “Our Rare Apple Ice Wine – has been paired with goat’s cheese and honey compote. It goes brilliantly with Cork cheeses like Durrus and Ardsallagh goats cheese. It’s also worked with a main Pork dish with an Autumn Jus, so it’s not just a dessert wine.
“Also, our Pom'O has been called 'a match made in heaven' with Blue Cheese, (or specifically Buffalo Blue Cheese from West Cork). But it’s also a fabulous aperitif or after dinner sipper.