Real cider only has one ingredient - fresh pressed apple juice. Cider-makers pick the apples in the autumn, press them, and then leave the juice to ferment over the winter. The yeast that lives on the apples turns the sugar into alcohol and when that’s finished (usually after 3-6 months) you get cider. It really is as simple as that! Of course, making good cider takes a bit of practice and many cider makers have been perfecting the art for generations. Real cider is variously known as craft cider, artisan cider or fine cider – they’re just different names for the same thing.
Commercial cider is very different to real cider. To be called ‘cider’ in the UK you only need to use a minimum of 35% juice (even less for fruit cider) and commercial cider-makers will often use highly concentrated juice with very little flavour. This means that they have to recreate the taste of real cider with artificial sweeteners and flavourings. Sadly, there is no requirement to list ingredients on alcoholic drinks, or even to display what percentage of juice is used. Luckily, real cider-makers are very proud of what goes into their cider so they will list exactly what is in the bottle, on the bottle!
Farmhouse cider (or ‘scrumpy’) is the most traditional form of cider. It is made from lots of different types of apples and is simply fermented until all of the sugar has turned to alcohol. It is still, cloudy and will typically be very dry. It is not to everyone’s tastes and is sometimes referred to as ‘rough cider’(!) but this is the starting point for all proper ciders.
West Country cider is made from cider apples, which are full of tannin and acidity. They’re no good for eating but when they ferment they’re full of flavour and this is the hallmark of a good cider. Most ciders are blended from 2-20 types of apple and the skill of the cider maker is in balancing all of their different characteristics. A few apples have the complexity to be made into cider on their own and these are used to make single-varietal ciders.
Any fruit containing sugar can be fermented into an alcoholic drink but it won’t have the same flavour as cider made from cider apples. Our friends in the South East of England (e.g. Kent) make excellent cider from culinary (eating and cooking) apples and as a result their cider has a different character. Eastern Counties cider tends to be lighter and crisper than West Country cider and is often stronger in alcohol (sometimes up to 8%!)
Every cider that we sell is vegan-friendly but not all ciders are. When making cider (and wine/ beer) some producers use ‘finings’ to remove sediment from their drinks. Some finings are produced from dairy derivatives and some contain fish derivatives. While none of the finings remain in the finished products, cider that is made in this way cannot be said to be vegan. We have checked with every producer we work with and you can rest assured that every cider we sell is vegan-friendly.
There is nothing in craft cider that contains gluten so cider is often seen as a good alternative to beer for those that are sensitive to gluten.
All cider contains a small amount of sulphites but craft cider contains much less than commercial cider. Craft cider-makers use sulphites after the fermentation process to kill off bacteria which could affect the cider but these are kept to an absolute minimum as they could also kill off the wild yeasts that give the cider it's character. By contrast, commercial cider-makers typically want to kill off the wild yeasts so they use much larger quantities of sulphites and introduce their own cultured yeasts. That’s one of the reasons you get a headache after drinking cheap cider!
Craft cider-makers are very fussy about what fruit they use in their cider but this is not the same as being organic. The word ‘organic’ has a very specific meaning and can only be used to describe fruit grown in orchards that have been certified to be pesticide free. Some producers get all of their fruit from unsprayed orchards (which may or may not be certified as organic) and some producers buy some of their fruit from orchards that may or may not be sprayed. The only way to guarantee that a cider is ‘organic’ is to check if it has the Soil Association organic certification on the label.
Most cider contains sugar. During the fermentation process, all of the sugar is converted into alcohol and you are left with very dry cider. If you want a sweeter cider then you have to sweeten it with something and the main options are sugar or fruit juice (or artificial sweeteners). Cider sweetened with apple juice tends to be very fruity and usually has a lower ABV. Most cider is sweetened with sugar. The other option is to ‘keeve’ the cider. This process removes the nutrients so the yeast dies out before it can turn all of the sugar into alcohol, making the cider naturally sweeter.
Perry is a very old, traditional drink and is made in the same way as cider using a special type of pear called a perry pear. It produces a light and delicate drink with a floral aroma and a distinctive flavour. Perry is traditionally only produced in the Three Counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and legend has it that perry pears can only be grown within sight of May Hill.
Pear cider is as different from perry as commercial cider is from real cider. Pear cider is typically cheap (apple) cider flavoured with pear flavouring and this is why pear cider often tastes of pear drops.
We used to be dead against ‘fruit ciders’ because a lot of them have never seen an apple in their lives! We’ve now come to the conclusion that if it’s proper cider blended with fruit juice then fruity ciders can be a nice alternative for those with a sweeter palette.
Proper cider is more expensive than commercial cider because the ingredients are much more expensive. Craft cider is made from fresh-pressed fruit juice and this costs a lot more than cheap, imported, concentrate which is then diluted and mixed with artificial sweeteners and flavourings.
All orders received by 12.00 (midday) will be sent by overnight courier (Parcelforce) for next working day delivery. Next day delivery only applies to standard mainland deliveries - UK islands, Scottish Highlands and Northern Ireland will take longer. Orders received after 12.00 will be sent the following working day. No deliveries are made on Saturdays.
Our licence doesn’t allow us to have customer collections on site so we can only take orders for delivery, sorry!
Unfortunately we can’t put together bespoke cases as it’s just not practical to keep individual bottles of every cider in stock - but we've tried to make sure that there's a mixed case for all eventualities.
Unfortunately we can’t guarantee delivery for a particular date, but if you leave a note we can delay shipping to as near as possible.
Delivery is £6.95 for the first case and then £2.95 for additional cases.
Surcharges will apply to Scottish Highlands and Islands of the UK. Sorry, we cannot deliver to Channel Islands or Northern Ireland.
Rather than hiding the delivery cost in the product price and offering free delivery (there’s no such thing as free delivery!) we’d rather be transparent about the cost of the product and the cost of the delivery. Only a few carriers will take glass and alcohol, and fuel surcharges keep increasing, so we review this regularly.
We can’t do same day delivery but all orders received by 12.00 (midday) will be sent by overnight courier for next working day delivery where possible.
It is a condition of our License to sell alcohol that all parcels are handed over to an over 18. We cannot therefore "leave in porch" or similar.
Our couriers will attempt delivery 3 times, or leave with a neighbour if they are in, and then take to the nearest Post Office, leaving a card infirming you.
Your online tracking will show this, and you can arrange delivery to a different address is needed.
Once shipped, you will receive and email from us including a tracking code from our couriers (Parcelforce).
The quickest way to track your parcel is to follow the tracking link and this will show you the status of your delivery in real time. This will also let you change any delivery details if you need to "in flight".
If your parcel is marked as "returned to sender", please email us as we wont always now, and we will refund or replace.
Yes, please do, and we will add it to a card. No invoices are included in parcels. Please check the gift recipient's address is the Shipping address if you want us to send it direct to them.
Please make sure you check:
1. Shipping address is correct, especially if you want to send to someone else
2. Check house number, name, and full address - Google has a habit of pre-populating addresses now - please check
3. Please don't leave delivery instructions, as we cannot leave alcohol unsigned for.