Black Castle Craft Soda is a brand new range of soft drinks made right here in Ireland, in Co. Wicklow to be exact. We caught up with John McGee & Riva O’Malley the husband and wife team and the creators behind Black Castle Craft Soda:
Can you tell us about a bit about Black Castle Craft Soda?
Black Castle Craft Soda is a range of handmade soft drinks made in Wicklow using interesting and natural ingredients that are inspired by growing up in Ireland. Launched in 2015 by myself and my husband John, we currently have 3 flavours in the range that cater for adults and are packaged in long neck glass bottles. They are perfect as an alternative to alcohol or as a premium mixer to high quality spirits.
What was the inspiration behind your sodas?
The idea for creating a craft soda range came about in 2013 while we were still living abroad in London. John was working in an East End pub while I was working in digital marketing also in East London. We were really inspired by the food and drink scene there and the get up and go attitude of a lot of small producers who were experimenting with new products and flavours. The craft beer movement was exploding at the time, as were boutique spirits, particularly gin, but in terms of soft drinks. they were still an afterthought. We found that if you were not drinking on a night out, or were looking for a great mixer for all these lovely new spirits there was very little available, so then came our light bulb moment! Let’s create our own range!
We then moved back to Ireland and spent just over a year conducting research, seeking out suppliers and perfecting our recipes. Our mission was to create high quality soft drinks, that were made using natural ingredients, were not overly sweet and used interesting flavours and spices to cater for more sophisticated adult pallets. Our flavours were inspired by growing up in Ireland and giving them a modern twist – our Spiced Red Lemonade was the first recipe we created!
How have your products evolved since you launched it?
Since launch we have tweaked our recipes based on customer feedback. Getting the level of carbonation right, the balance of flavour from our spices to the level of sweetness just right. Initially we supplied mainly the on-trade and food service industry, however, with our recent move into larger retail outlets, we have now started to use screw-off caps rather than beer bottle crown caps. This allows anyone picking up a bottle for lunch the ability to open the bottle on the go.
What flavours do the sodas come in?
We have 3 flavours in the range at the moment; A Fiery Ginger Beer made using lemon and pear juice, gorgeous warm spices and just the right amount of heat from the ginger, a Spiced Red Lemonade that is refreshing and lightly spiced with cardamom and allspice berries creating a grown-up version of the childhood favourite, and finally a Berry Bramble Sting made using Blackberry and Nettle which is fruity and fragrant. All our drinks have less than 90kcal and are great as mixers too.
We often get asked to create new flavours by customers so we are working on a couple of exciting recipes we hope to launch in 2017!
What does the future hold for your business?
We are very excited for the future of Black Castle. We have plans to expand our range including new product sizes/options and are aiming to be available nationwide in Ireland by 2017.
There is also massive export potential for our product with the UK being the first overseas market we will target in 2017.
Where can you buy Black Castle Craft Soda and how much does it cost?
You can pick up a bottle in Avoca, Fallon & Byrne (Dublin), McCambridges (Galway) and selected SuperValu stores from €2.39 per bottle.
We are also stocked in lots of independent off-licences, bars and restaurants across Wicklow, Dublin and Galway. A full list of stockists is available on www.blackcastledrinks.com/stockists/