Virtual Orchard

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Virtual Orchard is a cider producer based in Wolverton Mill, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Contents

About

Virtual Orchard [1] was formed in 2009 in Wolverton Mill, near Milton Keynes, by cider maker Laurence Conisbee. The first cider was made in the Eastern style using culinary and dessert apples harvested from private gardens within a 20 mile radius of the cidery. This cider first went on sale at the 4th Cock & Bull Real Beer Festival in Stony Stratford in September 2010, where a competition was held to find a suitable name... and 'Hard Core' was born. By March 2011 'Hard Core was becoming a regular cider at the Bell & Bear public house in Emberton, Bucks (Twitter @bellandbear or [2]) where the lucky patrons could also take some home in 75cl bottles.

Word soon to spread that Buckinghamshire had a cider producer and in April 2011 'Hard Core' was to be found at the Reading Beer & Cider Festival where is was judged CAMRA Gold Medal Champion Cider of Britain in the National Cider & Perry Championships.

Virtual Orchard continues to prove a popular real cider and can now be spotted at most local beer and cider festivals, and in bottled form at several locations including:

  • Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckingham [3]
  • Bacchus Wines, Olney [4]
  • Concrete Cow Brewery, Milton Keynes [5] 12-2pm Saturdays only

In 2012, in order to satisfy demand, Laurence decided to give up his day job in IT to concentrate on developing Virtual Orchard. The next product to be launched was the Virtual Orchard English Apple Brandy [6] developed in partnership with the UK's first, and possibly only artisan distiller, the English Spirit Distillery [7]. Using 200 litre copper pot stills, small batches of 'Hard Core' are lovingly crafted into the most wonderful apple spirit. As Autumn approached Laurence then turned to his only local commercial orchard to obtain supplies of quality fruit which would then allow him to create additional ciders. Before the year ended, a small batch of Mead started bubbling away in the cidery too, extending the range of traditional delights to be offered in 2013.

In 2013 Virtual Orchard Cidery relocated to new premises just a short distance away in an old timber mill alongside the Grand Union Canal at Galleon Wharf in Old Wolverton. Here Laurence has opened a small shop where his ciders, brandy and mead, along with other local beers and spirits, are available for sale direct to the public.

2013 was a busy year with a range of new (mostly seasonal) ciders being launched throughout the year in 330ml bottles, gift packs, and 20L bag in box: The cider range includes:

Hard Core Saxon Aelle All About Eve Falstaff Hogshead Side Effects Cider Claus

Other Virtual Orchard products available in limited edition include:

English Apple Brandy 40% - 50cl, 25cl and 5cl Mead 14% - 50cl

And, if that wasn't enough, Laurence (who has been working closely with The Park's Trust [8] for several years) finally realised an ambition of planting a Perry Pear Orchard in Milton Keynes. 200 trees of three different Perry Pear varieties were planted and hopefully by 2018 Milton Keynes will be able to boast it's very own Perry.

2014 Plans

2014 will see the launch of several more new ciders as well as some other (currently 'top secret') creations utilising locally sourced ingredients. Laurence is also working on some exciting local partnerships as well as offering contract juicing services for anyone who has several tonnes of fruit or veg that need processing.

More to be revealed as the year progresses...

Anyone wishing to visit the cidery is more than welcome. Please drop Laurence an email or give him a call.

Contact details

  • Address: Galleon Wharf, Old Wolverton Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK12 5NL
  • Tel: 07901 800182
  • Email: info@virtualorchard.co.uk

External links