Following the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards recently presented Kingsley Ash of Thornborough Cider with the very first Breakthrough Cider Maker Award and announced the launch of the 2021/22 Awards. These remarkable awards are free to enter and offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings in the on and off trade.

Barny explains: “The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards are nothing like any other cider competition. It’s the competition that I wish I could have won when I was starting out. Without a budget, without much help and support, it can be really daunting trying to get started in any career, let alone cider. The winners of these awards benefit from priceless help on the journey: mentoring, advice on strategy and branding, technical help with cider production and guaranteed listing in both on and off trade. This is an award with the kind of bankable bonus that doesn’t grow on trees!”

He continues: “The cider makers entering the Breakthrough Awards have their sights set on growing and improving all parts of their businesses and to get more of their fantastic ciders into more hands. The BCMA is a slingshot prize to a cider maker that the judges feel has the kind of promise, purpose and potential to go to the next level and I am thrilled that Sandford Orchards has been able to make these awards a reality. It feels great to be able to give something back to the industry that has given me so much.”

The overall winner of the inaugural awards was Thornborough cider. Barny elaborates: “The cider was sharp with a light bite and fantastic biscuity finish. Dry cider is harder to make well because sugar is so helpful at ironing out imperfections, so when dry cider is good, it’s brilliant! Kingsley Ash should feel rightly proud of his contribution to cider so far, and pretty excited about where he can take it.”

Barny adds: “Thornborough’s branding is really strong and elegant, and the business proposition behind it is sound and purposeful. We could also see plenty of opportunities to help Thornborough grow and improve and this is where the BCMA is invaluable.”

Rick Wyatt from Pang Valley and Marc Salter of Ex-press Cider both took away silver awards. Richard Yarnell from Mitchells and Butlers was one of the judges on an expert panel which included Susy Atkins, drinks writer and broadcaster, Helen Thomas, managing director of  Westons Cider and The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook.  Richard comments: “The Breakthrough Cider Maker awards is an exciting new initiative from Sandford Orchards, which seeks to support the growth of another ambitious cider maker by awarding prizes that directly impact on the winner’s ability to grow.  I was very excited and honoured to be asked to join the judging panel, the quality of the entrants shortlisted for the award was very high and finding one overall winner caused much debate and discussion among the judges.”

Barny finishes: “It was a real pleasure to be part of the judging and, as a business that wants to move cider and the perception of cider forward, we are really excited to get a chance to work with this year’s winners and start the search for next year’s winners too. Bringing cider makers together is always brilliant for sharing ideas and dreaming up plans which we all hope will bring the joy of cider to more and more people. By supporting the energetic future of cider across the country we will grow our category, reach out to curious wine, beer and spirit drinkers and grow the love for this marvellous drink. I would like to thank everyone involved.”

The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards were launched by Sandford Orchards at the end of 2019 in collaboration with Westons Cider, Vigo Limited, Darts Farm and The Stable. The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards will be back again in 2022, recognising and celebrating excellent quality whole juice ciders from around the UK. They are free to enter and open to cider makers producing between 3,000 and 15,000 litres of cider per year who can register their interest now at

The prize includes: business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfield, founder Sandford Orchards, a retail listing at Darts Farm, Devon, on-trade listing with a The Stable restaurant, £500 to spend with equipment and consumables supplier, Vigo limited and a technical visit to Weston’s cider to quiz the cider makers.

For further information on Sandford Orchards and the Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards please visit email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and  Instagram.