Exmoor Craft Cider Makers Celebrate Milestone
Secret Orchard Cider, a small-batch cider produced on the historic Nettlecombe Estate, has received its very first listing on tap – at CAMRA’s Somerset Cider Pub of the Year.
Pebbles Tavern in Watchet is currently the only place where cider enthusiasts can enjoy a freshly-pulled pint of the artisan tipple, which is made from 100% juice using wild yeasts and fruit from a single year’s harvest.
The entrepreneurs behind the Secret Orchard brand – Joe Heley and Todd Studley – were at Pebbles to enjoy the first pints pulled, and to toast this milestone on their journey to becoming one of Exmoor’s finest exports.
Joe commented: “It’s a really proud moment for us. We’ve been bottling our cider for three years now and every year sales have increased. To be on tap, especially in such a well-respected cider pub as Pebbles, is a major achievement.”
The walled orchards of Nettlecombe Estate are located within Exmoor National Park just 4 miles from Watchet; Todd and Joe harvest traditional Somerset cider varieties from the ancient trees, and also gather fruit in return for pruning trees on other local orchards.
Todd said: “All our apples are hand-picked, and Joe and I have pressed every single batch ourselves. It’s great to know that all that hard work is paying off, and that people are enjoying Secret Orchard straight from the pump.”
Pebbles Tavern is well known as a great place to enjoy a wide range of carefully selected ciders and real ales; the traditional and friendly tavern has won multiple awards over the years, including the CAMRA Somerset Branch ‘Cider Pub of the Year’ in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Owner Ben Allen was excited to be the first to offer Secret Orchard Cider on tap, commenting: “It’s a delicious cider with great local provenance. I know that Joe and Todd work really hard to maintain quality and consistency, and I’m pleased to be able to support small-batch cider-makers like these guys.”
The 2015 Vintage is also about to be released in bottle with a sweet and dry version available; the harvest was particularly good in terms of both yield and quality, which bodes well for cider drinkers during the summer ahead.