The kings of the cider drinking world are the British, Britain consumes more cider as a nation than the rest of the planet combined together. The British have a long history with cider and their eccentric traditions of making and drinking cider in all different forms is quite unique.
However, Britain is not the only country that loves its apple refreshment and cider is made all around the world with the most prominent producers being; France, Spain, Germany, and the U.S. We look at the differences in the way cider is produced in different countries and the ways it is drank.
Traditional cider making started in England in the southwest, areas such as Somerset, the West Country, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire are renowned for their rich cider making heritage. Other areas such as Kent, and Suffolk also produce excellent cider but it is in the West Country that the best cider is to be found.
In fact narrowing our search down to a particular county, Somerset is the king of cider producing in Britain. The biggest producers are Hecks, Sheppy’s and perhaps Wilkins.
One particular producer has recently found fame for making a twenty year-old vintage cider brandy. Julian Temperley came to fame at the Glastonbury Festival for his highly popular Cider Bus and now his much in demand brandy is so sought after it has become quite a rarity, perhaps the bottle which was designed by Damien Hirst has something to do with this also.
The West Country produces such good cider as it grows the best cider apples and Perry pears in the country, combined with hundreds of years of tradition in making cider it is a winning combination.
English and Welsh cider is basically the same thing, there are no big differences in style or production methods. There are slight variations and subtle changes due to Welsh apples being used which gives the cider a distinctly Welsh flavor. If you want to sample some top Welsh cider then look for Ty Gwyn, Hallett’s, and Gwynt-Y-Draig.
The best French cider is grown in the north, and in particular Brittany and Normandy, it is said that they have been producing cider in this part of France since the 12th Century. The French style of cider is a little sweeter than the British and it is also a little less alcoholic. Some of the British scrumpies can be over ten percent abv.
The three standard variations of French cider are; cidre brut, demi-sec, and cidre doux. The latter is very sweet and quite weak, with the strongest and driest being the cidre brut which is around five percent abv. Normandy has a fine tradition of drinking cider out of ceramic mugs whilst munching on delicious crepes.
If you like your liquor a little stronger then try the French version of apple brandy which is called Calvados. It really is a fine alternative to cognac and of course with rich apple overtones.