To make excellent craft cider and apple juice it is important to choose the best varieties of apples to provide balanced flavours and plenty of juice when pressed. It is also important for us to have varieties that grow well in the climate of South Wales (mild but at times damp). We also prefer varieties that are resistant to the common pests and diseases of apple trees (eg. aphids, scab, canker).
We grow over 50 different varieties of apple to give us the range of different flavours we need for our juice and ciders each year. This mix allows us to blend to get a good balance of sweetness, acidity, and tannins and also allows for the variation in crop of each variety in different growing seasons.
Approximately half of our trees are traditional high-tannin cider apples. These are excellent for adding the tannic complexity to cider – but are not pleasant to eat or (for most tastes) in juice because of the mouth-puckering dryness and bitterness of the tannins. Examples of this type of apple are Dabinett, Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Michelin and Harry Masters Jersey.
Approximately half of our trees are lower-tannin cider apples and dessert or culinary apples. These balance the tannins in our ciders and some make excellent juice and eating apples. Examples of this type of apple are Morgan Sweet, Katy, Ashmead’s Kernel, Discovery, Egremont Russet and Cox’s Orange Pippin.