Cockagee Pure Irish Keeved Cider 75cl, Mark Jenkinston

Cockagee Pure Irish Keeved Cider – Named after an old Irish apple tree variety, which was thought to be extinct but Mark believes he’s found it again – which the Seed Savers people agree with – and he’s planted 40 or 50 of them in his orchard. A forgotten name, Mark is now bringing it back and celebrating its heritage, and its peculiar name. It’s actually the Anglicised version of an Irish phrase ‘cacagheidh‘, which in ‘old’ Irish means ‘goose turd’, which is an actual shade of green.

This unique cider has pure, clean apple flavours, superbly balanced by the hand selected fruit natural acidity and sweetness. A masterclass - delicious, smile-inducing and invigorating.

“Delicately sparkling from the natural keeving art of fermentation. Off-dry, smoothly textured and very fresh and refined” Liam Campbell, The Irish Independent

“Mark Jenkinson has been producing his wonderful unique Cockagee for a few years, using traditional varieties grown in Meath. This keeved cider is naturally carbonated, unfiltered with a natural sweetness”. John Wilson, The Irish Times.

Mark Jenkinson, Cockagee Cider – Slane, County Meath

Mark is growing 120+ varieties of apple across 12 acres of an orchard, the apples are all hand-picked and all his fruit goes into his products but he does purchase some supplementary apples, carefully sourced, as some of his own trees are still quite young.

'Mark’s approach to cider is just like that of a winemaker, merely substituting grapes for apples. He’s particular about his process and precise in approach – his cider all comes from 100% apple juice, no other ingredients added. Whereas the big business cider-producing brands in this part of the world are making cider with probably 30% apple juice to begin with. Also, from pip to sip, any apple waste is repurposed by using it as compost in the orchard or being given to neighbour John McDonnell at Shalvanstown biodynamic farm as cattle feed.

Into natural, skin contact wine? Why wouldn’t you be into skin contact cider? Mark macerates his pressed apple pomace after the apples have been milled and they sit with their skins overnight (cuvage) to extract colours and tannins, whilst also facilitating the keeving process. As it sits, pectin leaches out and pectin is essential to the keeving process, because yeast is not added. As, you see, for keeving, nothing is ever added –– no water, no sugar, nothing but apple, so it’s pure and artisanal and romantic, but also hard work. So keeving produces a naturally-fermented (sparkling) alcoholic drink made from apple.

It’s a hands-on business, which is why it’s almost died out commercially in this part of the continent. Mark actually only does this over a six-week period in the Autumn when harvest happens, and it happens quite slowly too. The process, which gets its name from the ‘cheese’ racks it uses, involves tiered racks on a cloth press which dates back to Roman times. Each pressing is slow, taking 20 minutes to fully press the pomace. Gravity actually also plays a pivotal role in the process, as no pumps are used. A split happens with gel forming on top of what’s pressed (trapping the yeast within) and a concentrated apple juice underneath. This is – with gravity – poured off and then the clear apple juice allowed to continue to its naturally fizzy, fermented destiny. Other ciders, Mark explains, ferment down to a much drier taste, but this way the resulting taste isn’t dry.

It’s a slow, gentle process. Wild yeast fermentation. Slow to capture and keep the colour and flavour. Some UK mills are still doing this, but no one else in Ireland is. It’s still a process that’s widely used in northern France, and over the years it’s become known as a ‘Normandy’ style drink –– but this is how cider was always made before it became commercially mass-produced in Ireland and the UK.' Patrick and Russell, the