Photography by Dennis Cieri / Written by Lorena Caro
From the historical Museum Mile to the city’s centuries old architecture, Kilkenny is a city that is filled to the brim with heritage and culture. The atmosphere, the food and drinks, and of course the people, are what make this charming place truly feel “steeped in medieval history.” The city of Kilkenny is a huge part of the heart and soul of Ireland.
Located at just a 15 minute drive from the heart of Kilkenny is Highbank Orchards. This family – run farm grows organic apples and also produces a large variety of organic apple – based products such as syrups, ciders, gin and liqueurs. It’s definitely a destination to consider on your next trip to Ireland.
A visit to this place is unlike any other thanks to the lovely people who run the orchard. From offering visitors the opportunity to ride on a tractor around the estate, to showing visitors the actual machines that produce the quality products they ship to other countries, this place will win your heart over with its genuine passion for quality work. It’s a must go for people who want to experience an intimate, nature inclined side of rural Ireland.
What’s impressive about this seemingly quaint farm is how it’s managed to build a brand while staying true to the art of the apple. Highbank Orchards manages to stay true to its mission while also becoming more intune to the ever changing world of business. The location uses things such as steel barrels, aged ethanol made on site and locally sourced botanicals to make their products, which is only part of why their customers keep coming back. Their work stretches as far as Japan, making its way into the country’s cuisine and its religious temples. Today, it’s hailed as a favorite all over Ireland.
The estate also includes a river which runs underneath the distillery as well as a conference centre and an Airbnb, where guests could book a stay.
The highlight of any visit to the farm is taking the time to walk in the orchard where it all begins. Grown upon soft dirt naturally infused with limestone, the apple trees in Highbank orchard are lush and beautiful. Because our trip was in May, we were able to catch young apple trees in mid bloom. There were rows of young trees upon a field of grass with just enough space to fit a tractor. Each tree had dozens of branches filled with small pink flowers.
At the end of the tour, one can visit the farm shop where you can look through a variety of syrups, cider and spirits available for purchase. Our guide was kind enough to explain what a couple of the products were and how they were produced. We even had a couple cups of cider straight from a tap. Take a tour around the estate and breathe in the crisp, orchard air. You’re sure to fall in love with the wonderful cuisine that rural Ireland has to offer.