Monday, 11 June 2012

Elderflower Cider

I may be known to most as having a passion for cider but when it comes to tubs bubbling away in the corner it does not stop there; My real passion is for the flavours around me. You can see this reflected in my products - Cider, check. Hedgerow Port, mmm. And those three cysers bubbling away for Christmas...

So the sight of white florets of Elderflower in the hedgerow has got me itching.

The beauty of Elder is its ease of picking, either flower or berries, unlike my favourite hedgerow fruit, the Sloe, which takes ages to gather any quantity of, and protects its fruit with thorns that go septic if you get a splinter.

Four  hours picking gathered me this nice pile of flowers:

 Which were soon steeping in cider:
There is a body of opinion, coming from purists and Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs that cider with Elderflower is not cider.

I believe that like me, back in the day the producers would have worked with what was around them to produce the best product possible. So Elder flower and berry, honey, sloe, damson, they are all game.

Its a strange thing, I can add water, malic acid (the acid in apples that give it bite), tannin (the real flavour in cider) and sugar to the point where the beverage stops being cider and becomes a chemical soup, yet HMRC still consider it cider and tax it as cider.

But add another natural product of our fields and hedgerows like honey or elderflower, or augment the tannins in a dessert fruit cider with sloe and it becomes a made wine and is taxed as such.
£1.07 a litre duty instead of 37 pence.  if the alcoholic strength goes over 5.5% the duty goes up by another pound a litre!

These things are sent to try us, but I can work with them. The Elderflower has been steeping a few days now and my test blend is tomorrow.

If all goes well I will have tasters of my Elderflower Cider ready in time for Corsham Food Festival this coming Saturday.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

So why the blog

Hello and welcome to my first blog!

 Just over a year into my solo cidermaking venture, I feel like the business is really properly up and running - compared to last years 4 blended tanks and 4 special ciders, I have tanks into the teens, including special blends and single varieties some in oak, plus a healthy amount of nicely mutured stock held back from 2010 (and a few bits & pieces from 09).

So now I find the need to let you know what I have and when, for though there might be some regularity in my range, there will be products that come and go. Some single varieties and single cask blends, the Hedgerow Port, Woodbine's Finest... will go, some will come back...and there will be more; bubbling away gently are 4 experimental Cyser blends, from light and fruity to full bittersweet ciders fortified to wine strength with local honey.

So the main purpose of this blog is to keep you informed about whats new in my range. There may be the odd bit of hyperbole, but its not going to be too wordy and its not really going to be full of the trials and tribulations of my life in the shed and orchard. Its going to be a list somewhat like the one below.

Oh yeah, I will also post about when I will be open for visitors, which will be sporadic, for now.
I am currently gearing toward being open over Easter 2012 (Friday 6th to Sunday 8th April) and hope to offer a delivery service to the local area.

And I will post about special offers.
On Thursday 4th April I will be discounting the delivery charge of £5 on all orders if you are within 10 or so miles of Slaughterford and you are either a blog follower or Facebook liker of Handmade Cider.
Not sure how I will make this bit work with the online shop yet, you will have to check back to find out...

And there is one last thing, my new website is up, the shop will be finished early next week, but for now you can see the full range, the press, orchards and my ethos at


New Products for Spring 2012

Bottled Ciders

Woodbine’s Finest 2010
4.8% ABV   Medium Dry to Medium Sweet, still.
Batch Size 240 Litres
This Cider was made from the last pick of the season in the really cold part of last winter, all the best cider fruit comes at the end of the season. The juice was clarified before a cold fermentation, leaving a naturally sweet, clean and incredibly fruity cider.
If those dry tannic ciders are not your taste this is the cider for you, more akin to alcoholic apple juice!

This cider was originally available on draught, now available in 50cl bottles £2.50 each.

Special Vintage 2009
6.5% ABV. Dry to medium, still.
Batch size 210 litres
It is said that to make the best cider start with the best fruit. This cider has been produced from the cream of the crop from our ex Taunton Cider Co Vintage Standard orchard in South Somerset and has been matured in an oak cask. It is has a nose of oak and a soft yet robust flavour which is underpinned by a vinous fullness on the palette and vanilla overtones. 

This cider was originally available on draught, now available in 50cl bottles £2.50 each.

YMB 2010
6.0% ABV  
Dry to Medium Dry.
Bottle conditioned sparkling.
Batch Size 210 Litres
This Cider has been made from Browns Apple, a sharp fresh fruit and Yarlington Mill a bittersweet. The Browns tempers the edge of the Yarlingtons bitterness and the Yarlington tames the acidity of the Browns.
Usually we allow a natural fermentation in our ciders but this has been fermented using cultivated yeast in order to allow the varietal characters to dominate rather than the flavours produced by wild yeasts.
The combination of the 2 apples allows me to present this cider unsweetened, but without excessive dryness and it has been bottle conditioned.

Available in 50cl bottles £2.50
For release early April.

Yarlington Mill 2010
6.0% ABV, Medium Dry, Still
Batch size 100L
Reflecting over a bottle of 2009 Yarlington Mill I decided that bottle conditioning was not the best way to present this fruit. For 2010 I have blended the Yarlingtons with just enough sharp fruit to give it some back bone and sweetened it slightly to balance. Rest assured the full Yarlington Mill flavour still shines through.

Available in 50cl bottles £2.50

Verjuice used to be common in the kitchen but fell from favour, to the point where there is no recorded recipe.
Made from unripe grapes in warmer climes and crab apples in Britain, it offers a mellow acidity in comparison to lemon juice or vinegar and has flavour enhancing qualities. Verjuice from crab apples can add a wonderful, fragrant appleyness.
My verjuice has been made from wild crab apples harvested from the hedgerows of Wiltshire. It is presented in 2 different forms, as I believe it used to be.

Sweet Verjuice
When first pressed it would have been used as a sweet acidic juice, ideal where sweet/sour flavours are required, or even in desserts and puddings.

Available in:
50cl bottle £9.50
25cl bottle £4.90

Dry Verjuice
As it aged the Verjuice would have fermented resulting in a dry acidulant, ideal in dressings, for deglazing pans and in savoury dishes.
Available in:
50cl bottle £9.50

All my products are produced from fresh ingredients, Cider fruit comes from selected old, traditional farm orchards in Somerset and other fruit is collected from the hedgerows of Somerset, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire.
I do not use any artificial preservatives, flavours or colourings apart from minimal amounts of Sodium Metabisulphite.