Secret Orchard Cider, a small-batch craft cider produced in deepest darkest Exmoor, is set to release its third vintage – with a promise that it will be the biggest and best yet.
Cider enthusiasts and best friends Joe Heley and Todd Studley have been perfecting their pruning, picking and pressing techniques at historic orchards on the Nettlecombe Estate since 2012.
They reaped the rewards with a bumper harvest in 2015 – resulting in unprecedented quality levels and high yields.
Joe explained why he is particularly excited by this year’s batch, saying: “We have perfected our hand-crafted methods whilst staying true to our principles of low intervention – for example we don’t use any chemicals in the orchards or add manufactured yeasts – and it’s is really paying off.”
Secret Orchard Cider is made in small batches from 100% juice (no concentrate or sulphites are used), using wild yeasts and fruit from a single harvest; the result is a complex yet refreshing taste which remains true to its Exmoor roots.
This year Joe and Todd have made a dry and a sweet version of their signature cider, as well as several single variety batches for the connoisseur.
Todd said: “We are particularly proud of the single variety ciders, which are something really special; they are distinctive but also hugely drinkable. We will be offering these exclusively to local restaurants, who we hope will experiment with food matching to enhance the complexities of these ciders.”
The 2015 harvest was said to be the best for 20 years on the Nettlecombe Estate and the other West Somerset orchards that feed into the Secret Orchard brand.
As well as looking after the ancient walled orchards at Nettlecombe, Todd and Joe collect apples that would otherwise go to waste from local various orchards, giving their owners cider in return.
Thanks to the large harvest, Joe and Todd will be taking part in several food festivals and other events this year, starting at Dunster Food Festival on 27th and 28th February.
Secret Orchard Cider will also be available at a growing number of restaurants and local stores – current stockists include Reeves Restaurant in Dunster, The Old Ship Aground in Minehead, and Dunster Village Shop & Deli.
Secret Orchard also has a new website- www.secretorchardcider.com and the 2015 vintage will soon be available to buy online.
For the latest updates, follow Secret Orchard Cider on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/secretorchard/