I will admit straight away that I have never been much of a cider drinker. Maybe it was all the cheap stuff I drank when I was a youngster or the lack of decent varieties in the pubs and bars I have frequented. I always kept trying various types but nothing ever flicked my switch.
When I was on one of the recent BaldHiker Retreats I was given a bottle as a gift – a gift from the heart of Wales. It was a bottle of Welsh Mountain Cider, and it was a revelation for me. It was delicious, tasty, moreish and completely refreshing. This is the cider I had been missing.
After drinking it all up I wanted to learn more about Welsh Mountain Cider: the place, the history and the other varieties there are on offer.
There is a lovely story about how the orchard and cidery, over 1000 feet high in the mid Wales mountains, came to be and I will go into that in this article. But first let’s look at the cider itself.
Welsh Mountain Cider Kingston Black 2020
This was my introduction to Welsh Mountain Cider – the bottle I have tried and tasted; the one that finally piqued my interest about ciders.
On pouring I found it to be a hazy golden orange colour and with natural carbonation there is not much of a head that forms.
On the nose, the apple, along with vanilla, cinnamon and buttered toast notes really does come through.
The taste is what also helped make it extremely drinkable. The natural carbonation combined with all the hints of apple, tropical fruit acidity and a nice tannic finish.
The kingston black apples used in this cider are actually harvested from old row of trees in Hertfordshire, then in Wales they are fermented and cellared in the mountains.
The Welsh Mountain Cider Ciderworks
These are Britain’s highest altitude ciderworks located over 1100 feet up in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales.
Before I talk about the other varieties they have and those that are harvested in Wales too, it would be good to briefly go over the story of the family run ciderworks.
Chava and Bill are the couple in question and the hard work involved to get this going I can only imagine.
14 years ago, Bill had the opportunity to buy this 6 acre plot of land called Prospect Orchard. They immediately started planting apple trees which has now grown to over 450 differing varieties of apples as well as pear trees.
They have created a whole range of ciders you can buy. But that’s not all. Given both their vast knowledge of creating orchards, you can learn from them as well as buy apple and pear trees from them.
The Cider Production
You can easily see the standards they have set for themselves in this unique orchard growing part of the world. All is produced as naturally as possible and it is no surprise that their ciders have become award winning.
To make the ciders the best apples are picked from their orchard and then, over winter, they allow them to naturally ferment.
The fermenting period is 6 months to 2 years and when bottled it is completely unpasteurised, unfiltered and finished without adding any extra sulphites.
Even then the ciders are allowed to cellar age from 6 months to 10 years to get the rich mature flavours they are known for.
Other Cider Varieties
Now that I have tasted just one variety of their cider I want to try the rest!
Ping Pong Pet Nat
Love the name of this one. It comes from the fact the ciders were aged in a barn underneath the ping pong room. This is a single variety Cox’s Orange cider.
Let me see them apples
I am starting to see their trend for unique names. Using Shropshire and Montgomeryshire apples combined with older apples from their own orchard, this variety is all about the apples for sure.
A rich and deep cider made from 100% Somerset Redstreak apples.
Definitely one to get you going. Described as wild fermented, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and no added sulphites. Made from 100% fresh apples pressed in 2021. A blend of 70% Yarlington Mill with 30% Jonagold. Sound very interesting.
And There Is More
I shall be adding more details to this page as I try the other varieties out but you really need to check out Welsh Mountain Cider. Not just for the ciders but also because you can visit them, take a tour, and learn from them, all within a beautiful part of the country.