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The Spirit Of Highbank Farm

To be an entrepreneur, you have to have a generally positive and optimistic outlook on life, don’t you? Or else you would never innovate or believe you can succeed when others doubt it.

Rod and Julie Calder-Potts farm near Cuffesgrange in south Kilkenny. It is an ancient place where Rod’s family has lived since the 19th century.  When they decided to “go organic”, about 20 years ago, they were told that it was impossible to grow apples organically in Ireland. With our humid weather and mild winters an outbreak of scab and mildew could not be prevented without use of chemicals, said the experts. For some reason, Rod believed otherwise and now 20% of whole country’s production of organic fruit happens at Highbank.

Rod Calder-Potts
Rod Calder-Potts

Being an organic farmer is not easy; especially an organic apple grower! The first few years were particularly difficult, says Rod, but gradually the soil recovers and the trees become more hardy and resistant. Growth is slower than conventional farming and the yields are smaller, but quality and taste are the rewards.

Rod is passionate about soil. Everything comes from the soil, he explains. In a small spoonful of soil there are 10 billion micro-organisms, most of them good. Spraying the trees (or any crop) may prevent disease in the short term, but it also causes considerable collateral damage in the soil, killing many helpful microbes. “The scab doctor is in the soil!” he claims. When given a chance, the “scab doctor” will prevail.  Now his soil and the trees are healthier than ever. “You have to use your head”, he explains, “and work with Nature, not try to beat it into submission!”

I love it when someone “discovers” that we have a perfectly good homegrown alternative to an imported staple, right here in Ireland! Like when we learned that rapeseed oil is an excellent substitute for olive oil. Apparently it was Julie’s idea, to explore the possibility of making and selling apple syrup to rival maple syrup. It took quite a bit of research, trial and error but in 2010, Highbank’s Organic Orchard Syrup was launched. It was an instant success and sales have grown steadily since. It contains organic apples from Highbank Farm; and nothing else! Inspired!

When they introduced a range of ciders one might have thought that their portfolio was complete. That was a fine enterprise by any standards – by adding tremendous value to their excellent produce, they were already doing far more than most farmers. They were busy growing, making and marketing their own range of artisan products: apple juice, apple syrup and cider.

That’s when they bought a still!

The still is a new venture for Rod and Julie, and their biggest yet. They have located the still on their property, of course, in a converted dairy. There have been many hurdles to overcome but Rod, as is his way, has nothing but good to say about the organizations and agencies he has dealt with to bring this concept to fruition. Even Customs and Excise gets a dollop of praise: “they have bent over backwards for us”, he says.  Obviously Rod and Julie bring out the best in people!

Now the range includes Highbank Orchard Spirit, Highbank Orchard Liqueur and, most recently, Highbank Crystal Gin!  Like everything the do, these spirits are of fabulous quality. Although the junipers for the gin have to be imported, the botanicals used are mostly from the farm. The result is so unbelievably smooth, pure and fragrant; it can be enjoyed without any mixer, just poured over ice.

The Calder-Potts have no concept of “Can’t”!  Their energies are focused on “What’s next?” and “Why not?”  While their achievements are indeed significant, their ethos is also notable. They have built their considerable enterprise on a bedrock of Respect: respect for history, for the land, for people and for Nature.

The Calder-Potts of Highbank Farm are a beacon of positivity and enduring optimism. But, even more than that, they really do make the world a better place!

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  • Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Syrup 200ml

    Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Syrup 200ml

    "Irelands answer to maple syrup", this sweet and delicious, pouring, organic syrup, is the first of its kind. Grown and produced by Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny, Ireland. With years of research, Highbank launched the Orchard Syrup in 2010 at Savour Kilkenny. Totally organic, this unique, healthy product is made from Irish, organic apples from the farm. Highbank Orchard Syrup is completely organic made from our apples only - no pesticides, no artificial fertilisers or preservatives. Stored at ambient temperature, Highbank orchard syrup has a shelf life of over 2 years.Drizzle on porridge and muesli. Pour on ice cream and desserts. Glaze for meats and flavour for bakes.

    €8.45

  • Highbank Medieval Cider 500ml

    Highbank Medieval Cider 500ml

    Highbank, the Irish Organic Cider Growers, in their never ending quest to offer their customers different products, have blended their Organic cider with Organic Honey to produce a sensational drink with subtle honey overtones and a long tannic finish. They have called this “Highbank Medieval Cider” in honor of their medieval home towns of Callan and Kilkenny and the fact that honey and cider were famously popular in medieval times in the fertile hinterland of County Kilkenny, drawing visitors from afar. Try and get a bottle to try if you can because Highbank produce their ciders in small batches which are very quickly snapped up.

    €5.49

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Apple Cider Vinegar 500ml

    Highbank Orchards Organic Apple Cider Vinegar 500ml

    • with ‘Mother’
    • Raw
    • Unpasteurised
    • Unfiltered

    €6.50

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Balsamic Cider Vinegar 250ml

    Highbank Orchards Organic Balsamic Cider Vinegar 250ml

    Organic Balsamic Cider Vinegar with ‘Wild Mother’

    • Raw
    • Unpasteurised
    • Unfiltered

    €10.50

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Drivers Cider Non-Alcoholic 330ml

    Highbank Orchards Organic Drivers Cider Non-Alcoholic 330ml

    Made from Organic Cider apples from Highbank farm, Drivers Cider is a refreshing non-alcoholic drink for the driver with no added sugar or chemicals.

    €2.95

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Apple Juice 750ml

    Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Apple Juice 750ml

    Highbank Organic Apple Juice, known by it's gold top, is a delicious, refreshing healthy organic breakfast drink, made from our own organic apples. Highbank Gold Top is a single vintage apple juice pressed from our organic apples, known as 'Blushers'. All our apples are pressed fresh and are selected for their unique flavour which is especially delicious served chilled. A new vintage is available every October.

    €4.99

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey 50cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey 50cl

    This is a great Highbank creation. unique to Ireland this drink is 100% organic apples with all of the ageing tannins coming from the apple. It is a rich, smooth liqueur  very much at home with all of the after dinner drinks and specialist cocktails, especially with ginger and cinnamon. Again, another great postprandial drink on the rocks. 

    €43.50

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey 70cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey 70cl

    This is a great Highbank creation. unique to Ireland this drink is 100% Apple with all of the ageing tannins coming from the apple. It is, however, essentially a brandy and very much at home with all of the brandy based cocktails, especially with ginger and cinnamon. Again, another great postprandial drink on the rocks. 

    €59.00

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Spirit Liqueur 20cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Irish Orchard Spirit Liqueur 20cl

    Highbank orchard liqueur is lovingly distilled, using only Highbank Organic Apples, in our small, contemporary, copper pot still with rectification column, capturing the unique taste of the apples to give a delicious orchard liqueur for the connoisseur.

    €21.50

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Kilkenny Apple Vodka 20cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Kilkenny Apple Vodka 20cl

    This is the base organic apple vodka from which all Highbank Orchards spirits are derived. It is an excellent basis for cocktails. Highbank Organic Apple Vodka lends a wonderful apple flavour to cocktails bringing one back to balmy autumn days in the orchard with the scent of late blossom in the air. use this instead of vodka in cocktails and wait for the accolades.

    Grown, fermented, distilled & bottled on Highbank Organic Fram, Kilkenny, Ireland.

    €21.99

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Proper Cider 500ml

    Highbank Orchards Organic Proper Cider 500ml

    This traditional, dry cider grown and produced by Highbank Orchards Matured on its wild yeasts Highbank Proper Cider has no added sulphites, no added sugar and is Irish Organic with naturally high tannins. A delicious, refreshing drink, Proper Cider should be served chilled over Ice particularly with a fish course

    €5.49

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 10cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 10cl

    Crystal Clear Gin with overtones of over 12 organic botanicals. A delicious smooth organic apple gin from Highbank Orchards Single Estate spirit range, 'from the rocks of Kilkenny'. Grown, fermented, Distilled and Bottled with organic botanicals on Highbank Organic Farm.

    €14.95

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 50cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 50cl

    Crystal Clear Gin with overtones of over 12 organic botanicals. A delicious smooth organic apple gin from Highbank Orchards Single Estate spirit range, 'from the rocks of Kilkenny'. Grown, fermented, Distilled and Bottled with organic botanicals on Highbank Organic Farm.

    €45.00

  • Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 70cl

    Highbank Orchards Organic Single Estate Kilkenny Crystal Gin 70cl

    Crystal Clear Gin with overtones of over 12 organic botanicals. A delicious smooth organic apple gin from Highbank Orchards Single Estate spirit range, 'from the rocks of Kilkenny'. Grown, fermented, Distilled and Bottled with organic botanicals on Highbank Organic Farm.

    €59.90

  • Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Syrup 50ml

    Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Syrup 50ml

    "Irelands answer to maple syrup", this sweet and delicious, pouring, organic syrup, is the first of its kind. Grown and produced by Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny, Ireland. With years of research, Highbank launched the Orchard Syrup in 2010 at Savour Kilkenny. Totally organic, this unique, healthy product is made from Irish, organic apples from the farm. Highbank Orchard Syrup is completely organic made from our apples only - no pesticides, no artificial fertilisers or preservatives. Stored at ambient temperature, Highbank orchard syrup has a shelf life of over 2 years.Drizzle on porridge and muesli. Pour on ice cream and desserts. Glaze for meats and flavour for bakes.

    €3.65

  • Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Treacle 200ml

    Highbank Orchards The Original Irish Orchard Treacle 200ml

    Bitter-Sweet Flavour for Meat Glazes, Marinades & Bakes. 

    €8.50

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