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27th August, 2021

Alex Hill, of Bollhayes Cider at Cullompton in Devon carried off both the Rupert Best Trophy for the Champion British Cider and the Pewterers’ Trophy for the Champion British Farmhouse cider, for his Farmhouse Dry.  It is the first time that a single cider has scooped both the top awards in what is Britain’s biggest and most prestigious cider competition.

“I’m absolutely delighted”, said Mr Hill, who founded the hugely successful and influential Vigo cider equipment business before going into cider-making on his own account in the early 1980s.

“And what makes it really special, is that all the apples that went to make the cider are from my own orchard on the farm, which I planted over 30 years ago. It is wonderful to see our hard work come, almost literally, to fruition.

“The apples were a mixture of Yarlington Mill, some Dabinett, and Chisel Jersey, plus one or two we couldn’t really recognise. Even when the cider was only half fermented it tasted delicious, and it is just a lovely, drinkable, traditional West Country cider.”

The judges obviously agreed.  Their chairman, Nick Bradstock described the winning cider as “a fine cider, with some austerity, the tannins and acidity excellently balanced and giving a long and full finish.  It is a long time since a farmhouse cider came out on top, but it does go to show how much care and attention goes into even as traditional a product as farmhouse dry”.

Some 299 ciders from the length and breadth of Britain were entered for this year’s Championships, despite the Covid crisis dictating a slimmed down format.

“I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but it is true that the overall standard gets higher with every passing year”, said Mr Bradstock.  “Even the very few ciders that aren’t quite up to standard usually have some quirkiness about them and the vast majority are superb examples of their type.”

Mr Hill was presented with the Rupert Best Trophy for the Supreme Champion British Cider, formerly the Fruiterers Trophy but re-named in honour of Orchards and Cider’s founding father, Rupert Best, who sadly died earlier this year, from David Simmons, immediate Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.  The Pewterers’ Trophy for the Champion British Farmhouse Cider was presented by Richard Hills, Upper Warden of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers.

The Arthur Davies Cup for the best bottled cider was won by Hayles Fruit Farm, from Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, who also won the single variety class.

The Reserve Champion British Cider was, slightly ironically,  a French-style naturally sweet cider called Golden Guinea, produced by Halfpenny Green Cider at Stourbridge in the West Midlands.  “An excellent cider of its type”, was Nick Bradstock’s verdict.

Earlier in the day, Mrs Gilly Turner, of Heineken-Bulmers, was awarded the Coopers Trophy for Craftsmanship in the Cider industry for her work on orcharding and organising apple supplies in Herefordshire over many years.

The full list of results will be available soon.

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