What is so special about Somerset?
It has long been recognised that for growing apples for fermenting, England has three “vintage” areas where the soil conditions and climate are deemed best for growing cider apples, known as "terroir"; all of these areas are in Somerset. At Burrow Hill, Kingsbury Episcopi, we are right in the middle of one, the others being around Wedmore and Baltonsborough.
Apples are the starting point for both our cider and our Somerset Cider Brandy and at Burrow Hill, we believe it is vital to know their origins. All the apples we ferment come from Somerset, the majority from our own orchards but also from small local growers. We grow more than 40 varieties of vintage cider apples such as Brown Snout, Stoke Red, Harry Masters and the legendary Kingston Black.
The art of blending different types of fruit is key to the craft of cider making and distilling. At Burrow Hill, this is the responsibility of Tim Stoddart and Julian Temperley who between them have over 50 years experience of making cider.
Our policy of growing apples is to use the minimum of sprays possible, often not spraying at all. We use no artificial nitrogen, which means we produce smaller and tastier apples than those grown in orchards for industrial cider and no insecticides in order to protect the local bee population. In fermenting and making cider we use traditional methods, fermenting juice in the autumn without first turning it into concentrate.
Our apples are mainly grown in our own orchards and all the apples we distil come from Somerset. The only exception is Kingston Black apple, we search the cider world for this variety. We grow standard rather than intensive bush orchards and traditional, old varieties that produce unreliable crops and are therefore unviable for industrial cider production but known for their unique qualities and superior tastes.
Somerset Cider Brandy is part of the Slow
Movement, in our view this is more relevant to our
artisan production than the current organic system,
which did a grand job in the 80’s but has not evolved
to meet new challenges. Currently, ‘organic’ often
means huge businesses supplying the supermarkets
with goods flown from the other side of the planet
at a vast carbon cost.
In 2003 Somerset Cider Brandy was declared to be part of their ‘ark’. A great honour!