Davy Uprichard explains how Tempted Cider was born after he was inspired by childhood memories of making wine with his father.
In 2009, Davy, a horticulturist by trade, set up a small cidery at the family home outside Lisburn, and began pressing apples.
This humble hobby kick-started his mission to make the world’s most-loved and enjoyed craft cider.
Less than 12 months later, spurred on by the whole family, Davy’s mission was well underway.
Tempted Cider is now the most-awarded cider here with five styles in its range. But modest Davy jokes: “It all came about after a midlife crisis!
“I had a plant nursery for about 25 years. After university, I became self-employed as I’m quite my own person and didn’t see myself working for anyone else.
“It had gotten very ‘samey,’ so I started looking for something a little bit different.
“When I started this, I was in my late 40s - a dangerous time for a man! I’m not into cars or anything, so I was looking for a hobby I could spend more time on. I have always produced things, I get a massive kick out of it.
“I had a bit of knowledge about wine-making, which was not very sophisticated at the time, but I feel apples are the biggest raw material we have in Ireland that’s capable of making a wine-based product, which is what cider is, really. And that just seemed like the natural way to go.
“So I bought myself a bit of equipment, and set out to make 100 litres of cider. Customers would deliver stacks of apples and we ended up making 1000 litres. We bottled it up for people who had given us the apples, and I was like a dog with two tails!”
Reflecting, Davy chuckles, “Looking back at it now with experience, you think to yourself ‘you wouldn’t win too much with that stuff!’
“It was a bit like myself, nice - but with no big levels of sophistication to it!” he laughs.
“We moved to Lisburn in 2009, and the very first year we made commercial cider was 2010 when we made 5000 litres.
“The year 2013 was when we got more serious, it became our full-time jobs and sole source of income. At that stage Janet (Davy’s wife) and I had been going to a lot of the local shows, and more time was being taken up by it. It had become untenable to run the cidery and the nursery together.”
Despite their resounding success, Davy laughs: “I didn’t have a grand plan of becoming a commercial cider maker. I was just trying to have fun!”
TEMPTED: THE STORY BEHING THE NAME
Tempted is a family business,” Davy explains proudly. “I am surrounded by women with my wife, two daughters and even the dog!
“In the early days my daughter Jenny would have come round to the shows with us all the time and helped us out, and in the very early days would have helped us with the packaging and getting the orders away.
“In the early stage, my eldest daughter Sarah, who did a degree in Fine Art, made the initial design for the label. We were watching Kerrang! and Sarah was really into tattoo style art. I was very keen on a band called Squeeze, and oe of their biggest songs was called Tempted, so that is where the name comes from! Sarah sketched a design of an apple with a snake wrapped around it. It incorporated my interests with the name and the theme perfectly. It ticked all the boxes!
“In response to customer feedback, Sarah’s now husband edited the design to today’s logo which is a snake as an apple. Whereas before it reflected more of a rebellious side as Sarah designed it when she was in her teens; now she is in her early 20s, it’s more sophisticated. So the whole thing is a bit of a journey, just like Tempted.”
GETTING IT ‘JUST RIGHT’
“English dry ciders are more in your face, whilst commercial ciders can be very sweet,” Davy explains.
“I have never been able to get a nice cider that I liked, so I set out to make something that I wanted to drink myself.
“I was looking for something that was much more wine-based, lighter, fresher, fruitier, but which still had that high level of sophistication.
“If you’re going to make what would be classed as ‘industrial cider,’ which is what most of the comercially available stuff is, you can make it pretty quickly because there is not a lot of levels of sophistication in a lot of it. We’re trying to make a product that you can tell there is a lot more time, a lot more effort, and a lot more care has gone into it.
“For instance, a lot of the commercial ciders are fermeneted up to quite a high alcoholic percentage, as in maybe 12% and then brought back to their sales by adding water and colours and things. Whereas I personally make our cider up to the seven or eight percent range, and then when we are finishing off to our final ABV we add apple juice rather than adding water.”
“In my opinion, one of the things that helped us the most was the recession, because I think it made people walk away from buying a lot of something that was relatively cheap, and made them start buying one or two bottles of something better quality, as a bit more of a treat for themselves,” Davy explains.
“We started off right in the midst of the recession really, and I actually think that’s one of the things that made a difference.
“When we went to shows, that is one thing we really noticed. There’s definitely a clear decision amongst many of us to support local if they can.
“I would say if you are buying a product which is supporting its own local ingredients, I think that’s important.
“You don’t always have to buy something that is local to yourself, but if you are buying a product that is sourcing their ingredients from their region, I think that’s what is important.
“All of our sweet apples and Bramley apples come locally from Armagh, and all of the cider apples which we use come from Tipperary from one particular farmer. I know exactly how he grows them, and all of the apples we buy here are sourced from the farm I make the cider on.
“We know where they come from, we know how they are grown, we know how much care and attention has gone into them, so you know what you’re working with.”
Amongst their many awards, Tempted Elderflower cider not only received three stars at the Great Taste Awards but it also featured in the 2017 Great Taste Top 50 Foods List, which is the top 50 foods in the UK each year. It was one of only two Northern products to feature.
Davy explains, “The Elderflower cider has been one of those little things that just keeps on giving.
“Will we be bringing out new flavours? Yes we will.
“Our first flavoured cider was Strawberry, which goes back very much to the wine-based because we make strawberry wine and mix it with apple juice and mix it with cider. But from when I had the original thought, it was two and a half to three years before we actually brought it to the market.
“I’m a great believer that you need to know what you’re trying to achieve, before you bring something to the market. T
“I probably have 10 different cider flavours I can think of, but we’ll only bring one or two to the market in the next couple of years whenever I feel they are just right. I’ve seen people bring flavours and ciders to the market that after about a year they go off the market, or they’ve changed so much, because they never really had an idea in their mind of what they were trying to do.
“This whole business means you have to make sure you have the product exactly right. And by the product, I mean everything, from the flavour of the liquid, to the packaging.”
Find out more about Davy and his family at Tempted over at temptedcider.com.