24th May, 2018
The British Cider Championships, this year sponsored for the first time by Barbers Cheese of Ditcheat, has attracted an entry of 475 ciders and perries, ranging from the most traditional West Country farmhouse ciders through to the very latest in hipster-chic products. The top prize in this competition is the Fruiterers’ Trophy for the Champion British Cider, which was won last year by Lancombe Rising, a naturally sweet, sparkling cider, made by Nick Poole of West Milton Cider in Dorset.
Dorset also provided the winner of the other big prize, the Pewterers’ Trophy for the Champion British Farmhouse Cider, which went to Dorset Nectar of Waytown near Bridport.
Entries for the Bath and West International Cider Competition, launched last year, have again reached three figures, despite the logistical and fiscal difficulties of sending bottle and cans of cider sometimes halfway round the world. The competition is under new management, in the shape of award-winning cider educator and advocate, Gabe Cook, aka The Ciderologist, who has created six distinct categories of cider, reflecting the main styles of cider worldwide. Like the ciders in this competition, the judges have an international flavour, including as theywill do John West from Glintcap, the world’s largest cider competition, in the USA.
A new feature of this year’s competitions will be the “Cider Newcomer Award”, masterminded by Orchards and Cider Chief Steward, Bob Chaplin, and sponsored by Vigo Presses of Dunkeswell. Aimed at the many micro-producers and backyard cider-makers, producing less than 2,500 litres per year, it has attracted 42 entries, all of which will be given written feedback to guide them in the development of their cider-making.
The Orchards and Cider Marquee will also feature the ever-popular People’s Choice, in which members of the public get the chance to sample and judge for themselves some of the very best ciders from the dozens available on the bar, which will again be run by volunteers from the South West of England Cider-Makers Association (SWECA).
The Royal Bath and West Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in the cider industry will be presented on Wednesday 30 May, with the Coopers’ Trophy for Craftsmanship in the Cider industry being presented on Thursday 31 May.
Orchards and Cider chairman, Anthony Gibson, said: “Rather like the cider industry itself, Orchards and Cider is going from strength to strength, with more entries, more features and a really encouraging entry for our Newcomers competition.
“There will be plenty of serious sampling and judging going on over the four days, but plenty of fun as well, in what is very much a celebration of one of Britain’s, and especially the West Country’s, abiding glories.”