Liam Campbell's pick of Ireland's best craft ciders
Cider-making was the answer to wine in countries in northern Europe that were too cool to grow grapes but perfect for apple orchards - like Ireland.
Apples grown for cider differ from eating apples by their palate-tingling bitterness and astringency. Cider has so much to commend it. Low in alcohol, at a third or a quarter the alcohol strength of wine, it is a refreshing summer-time drink.
Irish craft ciders, in particular, are ideal for those looking for gluten-free drinks because no grain is permitted in creating true craft cider. Hand-made using Irish-grown apples, these ciders contain no artificial sweeteners, sulphates, additives, colourings or preservatives.
Well suited to the Irish dinner table, medium dry cider in particular is one of the few beverages that goes brilliantly with bacon and cabbage and hard cheddar-style cheeses. Sláinte!
1) Cockagee Pure Irish Keeved Cider, Slane 5pc
Naturally sparkling from the ancient keeving method of fermentation. Perfumed scents of windfall apples. Intense, pure apple flesh and skins with an attractive tangy finish.
€9.99 750ml in Dublin including Morton's, Ranelagh; Donnybrook Fair; Martin's, Fairview; Sweeney's, Glasnevin; Whelehan's; Redmond's, Ranelagh; Supervalu Celbridge & Mount Merrion; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Nolan's, Clontarf; Blackrock Cellar; Deveney's Dundrum and McHugh's Kilbarrack and Malahide Road.
2) Craigies' Irish Cider's Dalliance 2013, Ballyhook 5.8pc
Slightly cloudy with floral and yeasty aromas. A fresh and feminine style with an elderflower character and the lively acidity tempered by a slightly honeyed finish.
€4.50-€4.85 375ml at independent off-licences nationwide including O'Brien's, SuperValu, Next Door and Carryout Groups, McCambridge's, Galway, Bradley's, Cork and in Dublin: Jus de Vine, Redmond's, Donnybrook Fair and McHugh's.
3) Dan Kelly's Irish Hand Pressed Cider, Drogheda 4.5pc
Muted aromas contrast with a ripe red apple palate, off-dry and light-bodied. Very refreshing and natural.
€3.99-€4.25 500ml widely available at independent off-licences nationwide and in Dublin including Molloy's Liquor Stores citywide, Redmond's, Deveney's, Baggot Street Wines, McHugh's, Martin's and Sweeney's.
4) Longueville House Medium-Dry Cider, Mallow 5pc
Pronounced appley aromas. Off-dry with tangy apple skin flavours and a little bite of tannin. Refreshing apple flesh on the finish.
€3.99-€4.49 500ml SuperValu nationwide; Number 21 Off Licence Group and Bradley's, Cork. In Dublin: Redmond's, Ranelagh and Deveney's, Dundrum.
5) MacIvor's Traditional Dry Cider, Co Armagh 5.6pc
Fruity and apple orchard scents. Very dry on the entry and drying on the finish. Fresh sappy acidity underpins a subtle apple and almost winey palate.
€3.49-€3.99 500ml at independent off-licences nationwide including groups: O'Brien's; Next Door; SuperValu; Centra; Carryout and O'Donovan's, Cork citywide.
Júlia Florista Branco, Portugal 12.5pc
A waft of musk and rose scents. Very tasty, dry with exotic fruity lychee, white peach and finishing with lemon zest. Excellent with aromatic oriental dishes.
€9.99 at O'Brien's nationwide
Visit and experience the Irish Craft Beers, Ciders and Artisanal Foods at the RDS, Ballsbridge 27-29 August, see http://irishcraftbeerfestival.com