Why's Devon Cider Special & Who Produces It? April 28, 2016 09:59 2 Comments
We’ve recently obtained an alcohol license in preparation for stocking cider hampers, as well as including local real ales and wines within our Devon food hampers and afternoon teas. We have spent a lot of time researching Devon based cider producers and brands so that we can include the very best in our hampers. It therefore made sense to write this blog detailing Devon cider brands, along with a bit about why the region is a prominent cider producer.
For more about cider production and how to appreciate and identify high-quality cider see our Interview with 'real' cider expert Jim Callender.
What’s special about Devon / West Country cider?
In the UK there are two traditional ways to make cider - the West Country way and the eastern Kent and East Anglia way. The West Country tradition involves using a much higher percentage of true cider apples which are richer in tannins and sharper in flavour. Devon has near perfect conditions for apple-growing and as a result has many farms with an abundance of ancient varieties of specialist cider-apples. Production within Devon is often on a very small scale so comes with a handmade touch and attention to detail not always seen on bigger operations. These traditional methods involve nearly 100% juice, unlike mass-produced methods. Cloudy, unfiltered ciders made in Devon and also the West Country as a whole are often called "scrumpy".
Cider Producers in Devon
Sandford Orchards is a traditional farm business, pressing juices and ciders. They offer a tour & tasting evening at The Cider Works, which includes a homemade meal and cheese board with a talk on how cider pairs with different cheeses. Their cider range includes still, sparkling, fruit ciders and Devon Scrumpy.
Stoke Gabriel, near Totnes
Based on a 400 acre farm stocking cattle and sheep, as well as growing barley, Hunt’s Cider is produced from 18 acres of cider apple orchards. They make in the region of 5000 - 7000 gallons of cider each year predominantly from their own apples and sell directly from the farm gate. The apples are mostly Devonshire varieties such as Brown's apple, Sweet Alford and Tremletts Bitter.
Luscombe Organic Drinks
Buckfastleigh, South Devon
Based on a farm in deepest South Devon, Luscombe have been making organic drinks crafted with exceptional care since 1975. Better known for producing juice and soft drinks than cider, they use Devon apples including Tail Sweet, Sugar Bush, Devon Crimson and Slack-Ma-Girdle to produce medium dry cider.
Herron Valley Drinks
Kingsbridge, South Devon
As well as cider, Herron Valley produces juices, soft drinks and cider vinegar from their farm in the South Hams. They also have a travelling bar available for events in and around South Devon. Their still and sparkling cider is made from proper Devon apples and is either bottled or bagged.
Winkleigh, Central Devon
The site where Sam’s cider is produced has been a home to cider makers for over 100 years. The original business grew with its brands becoming household names until it was sold to Bulmer’s in 1996. One of the cider makers then decided to form The Winkleigh Cider Company and started producing Sam’s Cider on the site. They now have a range to suit everyone with dry, medium, sweet, sparkling and fruit ciders.
Stoke Gabriel, South Devon
Yarde Cider are a small family business based in the picturesque village of Stoke Gabriel on the edge of the River Dart. They produce real cider and juices from apples hand picked in local orchards. Their craft apple ciders come dry, sweet or medium.
Staverton, near Totnes
Ashridge Cider make their signature sparkling ciders using the traditional champagne method. It’s a high quality, award winning sparkling cider. They also now produce some bottled organic vintage ciders made from 100% apple juice, using up to fifteen different varieties of bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples.
Sampford Courtenay Cider & English Wine Company
Sampford Courtenay, Central Devon
Sampford Courtenay’s cider is made entirely form the apples grown on their farm. They have 14,000 apple trees; Ellis Bitters, Dabinette Michelin and Bramley's Seedling to create sparkling ciders which they bottle into 75CL wine bottles.