Cider makers bring cheer to Westminster

Cider makers bring cheer to Westminster

Gordon Johncox, the chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) and the chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, addressed MPs, government officials and industry figures to outline a British success story in need of support.

Gordon outlined how collaboration across the industry by cider makers of all scales is a positive feature, though the hard-pressed sector still needs support from government.

As a relatively small industry, representing the best interests of every cider maker informs all aspects of activity of the NACM. The vision of the association is that all producers can operate successfully and fairly in a competitive market, whilst continuing to support their communities, employees and apple growers.

To enable this, he called for a balanced regulatory environment for cider makers reflecting the unique circumstances of producers. In particular, MPs, Ministers and officials were urged to deliver a consistent application of regulations.

Gordon challenged the Government’s willingness to understand the specific situations of cider makers. While headlines from the Autumn budget stated that cider duty was frozen, ciders in the middle duty band received a 25% tax increase, impacting many small cider makers.

Following his speech, Gordon commented: “Cider businesses of all sizes are working hard to deliver a sustainable future for the benefit of consumers and the rural environment. The industry is a significant part of British heritage.

“We need the support of politicians to work with us to return cider to more positive results, remove red tape and the unnecessary rules that limit innovation and investment.  This support can enable cider makers produce fantastic products that interest in our category.

“We work to see every cider maker flourish and grow in line with their ambitions, whilst maintaining the highest standards. We firmly believe that with our collaborative nature and how we support one another this can be achieved when we can rely on consistent and sensible legislation.

“In recent months we have seen members providing orcharding experts when others experience weather related problems, large companies have supported smaller producers to expand their packaging ranges. When something is challenging or if advice is needed, small producers will always be supported, and to me, this is why the UK cider industry is so very special.”

The Parliamentary Cider Group Reception was an opportunity to showcase the best of British cider, which is home to the largest cider market in the world. The evening was attended by cider makers from across the South West, Midlands and further afield, as well as many MPs that represent cider making regions within their constituencies.

The NACM is the UK cider industry representative body, working on behalf of large and small producers:

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Squash and Goat’s Cheese Risotto with Friels Vintage Cider

Squash and Goat’s Cheese Risotto with Friels Vintage Cider

Thanks to the Fuss Free Foodie for her latest creation with Friels Vintage Cider!

Serves 2

  • 160mls Friels Vintage cider
  • 600mls vegetable stock
  • 35g butter (15g/20g)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (approx. 50g)
  • 150g risotto rice (I used carnaroli)
  • 150g butternut squash, peeled and finely diced
  • 40g Parmesan cheese
  • 45g goats cheese, diced
  • Salt and pepper


  • 8-10 sage leaves
  • 20g walnuts
  • 20g stale bread
  • ¼ garlic, grated
  • ¼ lemon, zest grated
  • 2 tbsps. olive or rapeseed oil
  1. Add the stock and cider into a pan and bring to the boil. Set aside.
  2. In another pan add 15g of the butter and melt. Add the onion and cook on a low to medium heat for about 8 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 further minutes.
  3. Add the rice to the pan. Stir and coat it in the butter. Season with 3 or 4 twists of salt and 2 or 3 of pepper. Add in the diced squash and stir, then add 2 ladles of stock and stir again.
  4. Stir the pan every 3 or 4 minutes until the stock has disappeared, then add 2 more ladles. I don’t stir continuously! Continue repeating this process for around 20-22 minutes.
  5. Whilst the risotto is absorbing the stock, make the pangrattato. On a board, chop the bread, walnuts and sage as fine as you can (or pulse in a small blender). Add the garlic and lemon and chop through one more time.
  6. In a frying pan on a medium to high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the pangrattato mixture and stir it into the oil. Stir regularly to avoid it burning for 5 or 6 minutes or until it is golden brown. Set aside.
  7. After around 20-22 minutes and the stock has nearly all been used, try 1 grain of rice and assess the texture of the risotto rice. If there is a chalky bit in the middle, the rice needs to cook for a couple more minutes. If it has a firm bite without it being crunchy, the rice is ready. You don’t want a mush, so keeping checking every minute or two until you reach the ‘al dente’ texture.
  8. Add the remaining butter (20g) to the risotto and stir until it is melted and mixed in. Take the risotto off the heat now and stir in the Parmesan. If the risotto is too thick, add a little more stock if there is any left. You want the risotto to fall easily off the wooden spoon. (Use a splash of hot water if the stock has run out).
  9. Serve the risotto onto your dish or plate. Add the goats cheese on top, then sprinkle over the pangrattato; This will add a lovely additional dimension to each mouthful of the risotto!

Click here to watch on youtube. Alternatively, click here to have a look at other recipes by The Fuss Free Foodie involving ciders from our members!