The husband and wife team who run Blackford Craft Distillery near Inverurie are preparing to launch Aberdeenshire’s first Cidery.
Neil and Katie Sime have plans to grow heritage apple trees on site at their six-acre property in Blackford.
The couple currently produce Vesperis Pictish Gin and Vodka at the distillery using locally sourced seasonal apples as one of the key botanicals, drawing on Scotland’s rich heritage in growing apple trees.
Katie said: “Apples are a wonderfully versatile fruit, we originally used them as a botanical with the intention of distilling an apple-based spirit from scratch for our gin and vodka in the future, however, we’ve recently been getting into the craft cider scene.
“We were encouraged by my nephew, to try the new wave of craft ciders being produced, he is coeliac so was looking for gluten-free alternatives to beer.
“We were amazed by the variety of taste profiles available and have been trialling unusual yeast strains and botanicals due to our knowledge of gin, he has been very impressed with the results.”
Neil and Katie hope to commence cider production next year.
The planting of an orchard using heritage apple trees will enable the company to produce single estate spirits and cider which fits into their ‘branch to bottle’ philosophy.
Katie added: “It will take a few years for the trees to mature, so in the meantime we will be relying on apples from the local community in return for cider or gin.
“Although production will be small scale to start with, we do hope to produce several hectolitres in autumn next year with the first release before Christmas 2019, and expanding over the next few years into bars, restaurants and shops.
“We are launching a ‘sponsor a tree’ initiative in November for the initial 30 trees, supporters can choose a variety of tree, either a British cider variety such as Slack Ma Girdle or a Scottish heritage tree like The Bloody Ploughman or Beauty of Moray.
“They can also name or dedicate the tree and even come and plant it in February 2019, if they wish.
“Our daughter’s nursery at Rothienorman Primary School will be helping with the planting of the trees next year, it’s great to get children in the community involved, I love the idea that the trees will grow as they do.”
Sponsorship packages start at £30. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org.