recently I had the opportunity to tour the local cider house. Armed with a Knowledge of cider making already, I was eager to see the layout. Avery good friend of mine who also enjoys a bottle of Sheppy’s came along to enjoy the experience and take these photos.
The tour started with a walk around the orchards, some of which are nearing 100 years old and still, the rows are arrow straight. Several varieties of cider apple are used including the famous Kingston Black. Sheppy’s have much younger orchards that run alongside the old timers and these again contain some lovely cider varieties. As with all orchards, the grass needs tending. They allow their own cattle and sheep to graze throughout the year keeping the grass low and the animals fed. On a side note, they have a restaurant on site so you can sit and watch someones future lunch grazing the orchard.
Down To Business
Next stop on the tour was the drop off point, this is where the apples once picked are tipped into a holding area before being washed and sent to the crusher and press. Everything is bright and shiny, all stainless steel. This process is highly mechanicalized though human presence is still a must.
How Much Cider
Next stop, the holding vats, each one holding 1000’s of gallons. Interestingly at this point, the cider has a high abv (alcohol by volume) Higher than when it is sold. Before it is bottled, it has to be diluted, Basically the higher the abv the higher the revenue owed. If you look at the photo above you can see the massive pair of oak barrels which are the originals and were lifted into the new building by crane. Below is another nice stack of full barrels ready to be delivered to local pubs.
A nice part of the tour is a trip down memory lane, You get to watch a short video about the history of Sheppy’s and cider making in general. Once the video is over you can walk through the buildings which contain all manner of farming ad cider making memorabilia. If like me, you are fascinated by the old ways you will, as I did, forget to photograph any of them. ( I will see if Nick got any) The last building takes you to the bar (perfect)
Here, the bar staff quite graciously line up glasses for everyone on the tour and fill them one at a time with a cider from the pump.
I have to say, they are very generous with the handing out of samples on the day. Nicks favourite is the fruity raspberry cider but for me, it was a little sweet. My personal favourite is the vintage reserve, this is more of a traditional cider but with a little bit of fizz.
Once you have tried all the delicious ciders they have to offer, and yes they do ask if you would like to try any again (fatal) You can either relax there at the bar with a Glass of finest or, Stroll through into the Restaurant or the shop.
With all the varieties available and wonderful Sheppy’s gifts, it’s a great place to buy. What really did impress me was the sheer amount of local produce. The way things were displayed, it was a real treat.
I was given this fantastic gift set as a prize, it contains the Raspberry cider, the delicious Elderflower cider, A beautiful Sheppy’s pint glass and a Sheppy’s bottle opener.
Details on how to win this fantastic prize below.
Thanks for reading