Fowey Valley, makers of a range of exquisitely crafted fine spirits and ciders.
What makes us so different? How we do it!
Once upon a time the Fowey valley was bedecked with blossom. The Victorians would take special boat trips just to marvel at the blooming. Today Fowey Valley are one the few orchards left. We keep busy upholding the tradition of cidermaking in the valley and producing award winning spirits. All our ciders are made solely from fresh West Country apples and our spirits are all created from scratch- none of the usual industrial alcohol.
25 years ago, Barrie Gibson started making Cider. Him, and his wife Geraldine, only had 6 trees and the apples that had friends brought to them. They pressed the apples by hand and paid helpers with bottles of cider. In 2012, confident that they had crafted 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 twenty-five years ago. But Barrie's pride in producing great cider and distilling exceptional spirits is just as strong. Everyone at Fowey Valley is confident that whichever one of our products you buy, it will live up to the excellent reviews and deliver on taste and total satisfaction.
How we make
All our spirits are made from scratch from fresh west country fruit. We press the juice and ferment it to around 7% ABV and then carefully distil it.
First, we make our Eau de Vie, this is distilled to 65% then adjusted back to 40%. Eau de Vie makes a great digestif on its own or even 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. This is more of an Aperitif at 20%.
The rest of our Eau de Vie is put to age in new American Oak barrels, made specially for us by a cooper in Bulgaria. Each barrel is ‘medium toasted’ before shipment, a small fire is lit in each barrel to char them ever so slightly, which imparts a mild toasted note to the oakiness of the cider brandy.
Most Gin makers take a little known shortcuts by buying 100% Ethylene alcohol, watering it down to 40% and adding flavourings. We don’t! We make ours from scratch. We start again with our own 7% alcohol, and distil it several times to make a Vodka of 95% ABV which is then adjusted to strength. To make our Gin we begin with the Vodka which is given another pass in the still where we add our own unique botanicals.
All of our spirits are made in the same rigorous fashion.
How we make
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.
We only use fresh apples from our own orchard and others close by and 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 the 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 and it is pretty much left to its own devices for the best part of a year.
When we need the tanks back for the next year's cider we send some off for bottling, our Castledore, and we bottle the rest in Champagne bottles with a small amount of sugar. This is left for another year, for a secondary fermentation to take place. The yeast works on the sugar to make alcohol and carbon dioxide, gradually building up pressure.
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 bottles are chilled to 2C. The cap and about an inch of the neck are then put into a freezer, which runs at -27C. We open the bottle and the carbon dioxide created by the secondary fermentation forces out an ice plug containing any remaining sediment.
This bottle is then given a small amount of sugar to sweeten to Brut level and topped up by our bottling machine to 750ml. Finally the cork is inserted and the cage put around it to hold it in place. We then leave it alone again.
After a few weeks our Sparkling Vintage Cider is good to drink.