Cider distillation has been frequently mentioned throughout the UK’s history...
In 1560 just up the road from our farm, the last prior of Montacute Priory left his still and glass collection to his nephew having presumably used them for distilling and drinking Somerset cider brandy. It is likely that puritanical attitudes then caused stills across the West Country to be operated behind a veil of secrecy. During the 1660s the distillation of cider had a resurgence and by 1710 the industry was well-enoughestablished to warrant its own tax bracket.
Then with William of Orange came the plague of cheap gin and the establishment of vast whisky distilleries across the border. Somerset Cider Brandy once again disappeared off the records and behind hedges.
300 years later The Somerset Cider Brandy Company began the process of legally reintroducing this spirit to the UK.
The kind of artisan distilleries accepted as normal in Europe were at the time unheard of in the UK. In 1984 Julian Temperley began the long process of obtaining the UK’s first licence. By 1987 he was operating on a museum licence with Bertram Bulmer and then finally with the arrival in 1989 of our still Josephine we began to produce Somerset Cider Brandy commercially. Our steady French beauty was joined by Fifi in 1993, a smaller more frisky still. Between March and May or September and December you can see these 70 year old ladies working their magic at the farm.
Bottles of Somerset Cider Brandy are now found in some of the finest restaurants in the world, evoking all the magic and mystery of the West Country’s proud cider-making and apple-growing traditions.
"Julian bought and re-planted orchards, he protected and revived the breeds, he researched and understood the ancient methods and – maddest of all – he took on the monster that was at the time a cartel of distillers, making the first commercial cider brandy in Somerset for over 300 years. He made history, broke the mould and – incidentally – inspired the revolution of artisan distillers"
Protected Geographical Status
In 2011, we joined an elite list of European food and drink producers after being awarded Protected Geographical Indication status in Brussels. Much like our French cousin Calvados we now have a legally protected name.
Currently the use of the term Cider Brandy is not allowed in EU/UK law except for Somerset Cider Brandy. Our PGI recognises the exceptional terroir of Somerset’s cider apple region and each bottle can be traced back to its orchard of origin.
Our PGI shows that Somerset Cider Brandy is always produced in a consistent and traditional manner. It is distilled exclusively from cider produced using only freshly-pressed juice, which must be derived from at least 20 varieties of traditional cider apples grown naturally in Somerset on standard trees. Furthermore, the cider brandy must be distilled, matured in oak for a minimum of 3 years and bottled within Somerset.