Our Story

Fowey Valley cider's home orchard at Hybadore, all Cornish heritage varieties

We are Fowey Valley, makers of a range of exquisitely crafted, award winning Cornish fine spirits and artisan ciders.

Nearly 30 years ago Barrie Gibson and his wife Geraldine began to make their artisan, Cornish cider. They pressed by hand the apples from their six trees and those they received from friends, paying their willing band of contributors with bottles of cider. In 2012, confident that they had mastered the process, they went commercial and established Fowey Valley Cidery in a beautiful orchard in Golant, on the banks of the river Fowey in Cornwall. Working in an old out-building, with a small and dedicated team, they took three years to perfect their flagship product; a multi award-winning, dry 7.5% champagne-style cider.

 

Today, our product range has expanded, the team has grown, and we have moved into bigger premises. A lot has changed since those first bottles thirty years ago, though Barrie's pride and passion in producing artisan cider and distilling exceptional spirits is prevalent with every sip. 

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How we make
our Spirits

What makes our award-winning spirits so unique? Many gin distillers, for example, buy in mass produced ethanol and just add their own botanicals. At Fowey Valley we do things differently - all our spirits are masterfully handcrafted from scratch using premium, fresh west country fruit. The juice from these fruits is pressed and fermented to produce our special base spirit of 7%. 

 

We firstly produce our Eau de Vie, which is distilled to 65% then adjusted back to 40%. Eau de Vie makes a great digestif or mixed into cocktails in place of Vodka or Gin. Some of the spirit is then mixed at a 50% ratio with apple juice to make our wonderful Pommeau, which makes a delicious aperitif at 20%.

 

The rest of our Eau de Vie is put to age in new American Oak barrels, made exclusively for us by a cooper in Bulgaria. Each barrel is ‘medium toasted’, meaning that a small fire is lit in each barrel to char the inside ever so slightly. Our Cider Brandy is aged in these barrels for either one or two years, gradually absorbing a mild toasted oak note which mingles with aromas of warming spice and fruit. 

Barrie has also perfected other spirits over the years, producing the award-winning Foy Gin and Vodka - each a masterclass in small-batch distilling. To create these premium spirits, we start again with our own 7% alcohol, and distil it several times to make a Vodka of 95%, which is then adjusted to strength. To craft our Gin we begin with our Vodka, which is given another pass in the still where we add our own unique botanicals.

At Fowey Valley, we have a simple vision. This is to produce the finest sipping experience possible, using time-honoured skills and local ingredients that are all grown in this very enchanting corner of the Country.  

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How we make
our ciders

Mass market ciders aren’t often real cider at all - as in made solely from freshly pressed apples. It’s very common for commercial cider to be made from two thirds sugar water and one third reconstituted apple concentrate with added chemicals and flavourings.

At Fowey Valley, we only use fresh apples from our own orchard and others close by, and absolutely nothing else. We wash the apples three times and reject any we wouldn't eat. We mill the apples into small pieces and then press this ‘pomace’ in our new belt press. About 65% of this is juice, which is then pumped into our 1,500-litre tanks. At the end of each day we add yeast and put it under an airlock for about a year to slowly ferment.

 

Some is then bottled as our award-winning Castledore - a clean, refreshing medium dry and lightly carbonated cider. The rest is put into champagne bottles with a small amount of sugar which kickstarts a year-long secondary fermentation. This is left for another year, for a secondary fermentation to take place. 

 

During the third year, the bottles are inverted in what the French call 'pupitres' and every day or so, they are twisted to encourage the sediment to creep down through the bottle and come to rest on the inside of the crown cap. When that happens, the cap and top of the neck are frozen and the sediment is disgorged, before a small amount of sugar is added to sweeten the cider to Brut level.

 

After a little time to allow for resettling, Fowey Valley's flagship Vintage Sparkling is ready for you to enjoy. 

As you can see, from each ingredient sourced to the last touch on the packaging, all our processes are done by hand, paying attention to every small detail, ensuring the utmost quality at every step.  So, every time you drink one of our award winning tipples, you can taste the craft and dedication invested behind every bottle. 

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