THE Bramley Apple products of an Ardress farm - from the traditional pie to cider - have been featured in ITV’s daytime programme ‘Ade in Britain’, presented by Ade Edmondson, made famous by the madcap TV comedy ‘The Young Ones’.
Ade and his TV crew called with the McNeices, who have grown the iconic apple for five generations, the latest custodian of the family tradition being Greg McNeice, who launched the latest product last year - the Mac Ivor Ciders, which featured in the Ade show, along with traditional Bramley products like the apple pie and the fillings.
‘Ade in Britain’ travels the highways and byways of the UK, concentrating on traditional family foods and trades, and the McNeice-Mac Ivor traditions stood up with the best of them during the crew’s trip to Northern Ireland - they also featured a County Derry Bakery and a County Antrim basket weaver.
Said Greg, “The attention of the producers was drawn to the County Armagh Bramley, after it received the PGI (Protected Geographic Indicator) last year.” This is to protect famous foods like Cornish Pasties, Lough Neagh Eels, Comber Potatoes, Arbroath Smokies, Parma Hams and the like to stop other “imitation” regions from producing unauthorised copies.
So Edmondson and his crew arrived at the McNeice spread - 100 acres of prime Bramleys - and took it from the start as Ade peeled Bramleys using an old hand-operated peeler and corer machine, viewed the more traditional processing set-up (established by Greg’s dad Sam and late uncle Joe 40 years ago). He finally toasted the firm with Greg’s cider, the Mac Ivor brew, thus named to differentiate it from the ‘McNeice’ brand and named after his late granny, originally from the Mac Ivor clan.
Said Greg, “I suppose it was a natural progression. I had an uncle called Paeder (deceased) who used to dabble and experiment in cider products - he was a real character - so I simply took that tradition to the production level. I tinkered with it for four years, attended a cider academy in Hereford and then came up with two Mac Ivor products - the Traditional Dry and the Medium, using 14 different varieties with the Bramley central to it all. It turned out well.”
The trade agreed, for the Traditional received the Silver Medal in England last year - just months after it hit the market - which is the ‘Oscar’ of the industry. That was in competition with around 1,000 beers and ciders, the first in Northern Ireland to gain the accolade.
“Ade and his team were really taken with it all,” said Greg. “They spent the best part of a day with us, sampling the apple products and the cider - it was a great day’s craic, and the sort of publicity you simply can’t buy.”
More details of the McNeice successes can be found on the website ‘macivors.com ‘and the company mascot Pedro the Fox - named in honour of Peader - is on YouTube, again by typing in ‘macivorscider’.