A locally produced cider has earned its place among the best in the UK in a new guide published by CAMRA.
Napton Cidery’s Whisky Cask blend features in Modern British Cider which is being launched around the country this month by author and industry expert Gabe Cook.
In the book, the self-titled Ciderologist, Gabe shines a light on the rise of popularity and diversity of craft cider that exists within UK as well as exploring the trends, challenges and opportunities that influence cider’s ability to innovate and grow.
Napton’s 7.7% Whisky Cask Kingston Black Cider is made from a blend of Kingston Black apples from a 30-year-old orchard and matured in single malt whisky casks from Auchentoshan distillery using wild yeasts and natural sugars.
In the book, which was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign, Gabe critiques the cider as having ‘Christmas pudding levels of clove and cinnamon richness but finely balanced with a brusque bitterness, dusty astringency and glowing warmth.’
With 15 years of experience to draw on, Gabe is an acclaimed international, writer, broadcaster, educator and consultant on all matters cider. The resident cider expert for Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Gabe an outspoken advocate of the industry, leading the charge for a cider revolution by chairing a number of international competitions and heading up campaigns, events and publications.
He said: “Modern British Cider looks at how cider has formed an integral part of the UK’s landscape with a heritage dating back at least 2,000 years. Today, cider faces a new change in the drinking landscape of Britain – the rise of craft and modern styles, discerning drinkers with different needs, habits and spending opportunities.
“This guide celebrates the heritage, diversity and innovation within the wonderful world of British cider today and celebrates the full diversity of styles, flavours and occasions that cider can provide, whilst also showcasing the best of cider-making talent from across these isles.”
The Cidery, run from Napton-on-the-Hill by husband and wife Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier, started life as a hobby nine years ago when the couple were first introduced to the taste of craft cider on a family holiday to Cornwall. Returning home with an apple tree, they soon started experimenting in their back garden.
Today, the team harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of craft cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards.
Central to Napton’s growing popularity among customers is its strong sustainability ethos, from harvesting through to packaging. All of its apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organic and biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
The shop also sells perry, juices, spirits and vinegars as well as a new products the team have been working on this year – including Apple Cider Brandy, canned ciders and branded collectors’ glasses. There’s also the opportunity to sample them all.
Reacting to news of the book, Charlotte said: “We’re feeling very excited and proud. We’ve worked with Gabe before when he’s delivered cider courses to our employees and he’s doing really important work to change the perception of cider and make it clear that there’s a cider to suit every taste. He’s also doing work to support cider makers (writing to MPs, campaigning for changes to the law), and we took part in a campaign that he organised last year called Discover Cider.
“Cider doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves, it’s a craft/art that’s just as complex as the wine-making process in many ways. It’s great that this book promotes small cider makers – there are so many amazing cider makers featured.”
She added: “We are proud to be part of the craft cider movement – and are delighted that our whisky cask was Gabe’s favourite lockdown cider!”
The Cidery is open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm.
Visit Napton Cidery here
Modern British Cider is available to purchase at Napton Cidery and all usual outlets.