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 sandfordorchards.co.uk.
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 www.sandfordorchards.co.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Devon based Sandford Orchards has launched a brand new collection of Vintage Ciders; a finest cask-aged cider, ‘Sandford Reserve’, a fresh oak-finished cider, ‘Apple & Oak’ and a mighty vat-aged cider named ‘The General’. This new range is available nationwide from retail outlets and www.sandfordorchards.co.uk RRP £32.00 for 12 x 500ml bottles.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards comments: “Every apple harvest has a distinct character. To use the term ‘vintage’ a cider must declare the year of harvest with the age of the cider providing a strong indication of its depth of flavour and maturity. A huge amount of effort went into creating our new vintage ciders and we are thrilled with the results. We trialled more than forty different potential winners before whittling them down to these three, each of which boasts their own unique characteristics.”
Apple & Oak – Fresh Oak-Finished Cider (ABV 6.7%)
‘Apple and Oak’, is a dry vintage cider aged in new oak barrels. It showcases youthful, ripe, bittersweet apple flavours which are complemented by hints of vanilla and toasty oak. The ideal accompaniment to a cheese ploughmans or cured meats, it’s the ‘cider nouveau’ of the collection.
Sandford Reserve – Finest Cask-Aged Cider (ABV 7.4%)
Sandford Reserve is the ‘exhibition’ cider of this new range. Using the pick of the 2019 crop and matured in larger wine casks, Sandford Reserve drinks like a smooth, oaky, chardonnay with flavours of honey, Madeira and dried fruits. It’s the perfect partner to curry or spicy Asian food.
The General – Mighty Vat-Aged Cider (ABV 8.4%)
The General is the Imperial Stout of this vintage range. This super rich cider is bold and satisfying with the flavours of Seville orange, plum and baked apple. It is a superb complement to gamey meats or a fully-laden Sunday roast.
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Crediton, Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. The area has long been known as one of the most fertile parishes in all of Britain, both for its grazing and ability to grow apples. Crediton sits in the lee of the moors, so receives the right amount of rain and the right units of heat in summer.
Sandford Orchards takes a fresh, natural and low impact approach to producing cider. With their recent rebrand and expanded capacity, they are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of their fast-growing fan base as well as cider drinkers who want to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting.
Combining tradition and innovation, Sandford Orchards produces an award-winning range of core session ciders including Devon Red, Devon Dry and Devon Mist and fruit ciders; blackberry flavoured Fanny’s Bramble, Berry Lane using perfectly ripe raspberries, Old Blossom made from delicate Elderflower and an invigorating and zingy Cider Ginger.
For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit www.sandfordorchards.co.uk, follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
*Sandford Orchards Vintage Range of cider is available in cases of 12 x 500ml bottles RRP £32.00 and can be purchased from selected retail and hospitality outlets or online at www.sandfordorchards.co.uk.
Sandford Orchards, one of the fastest growing challenger brands in the cider industry, has bucked the business trend during the pandemic by investing £1.2 million into expanding its bottling and canning capabilities and developing and implementing a new branding strategy. Sandford Orchards, whose ethos is to produce the best tasting cider ‘done right’ is now well placed to meet an increased demand for real cider driven by a strong consumer interest in authenticity and quality.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker comments: “Whilst other businesses have retrenched during the last twelve months we have taken the opportunity to press forward with our expansion plans buoyed by an ever-growing number of consumers who are looking for an antidote to the standard commercial cider brands.”
Barny explains: “ At the end of 2019, we made the strategic decision to invest heavily in a full rebrand and we appointed award-winning branding agency Kingdom & Sparrow and market research agency Branding Express, who conducted focus groups across the UK. Blind tastings showed that consumers unanimously agreed that our cider tasted delicious, more natural and flavourful than mainstream alternatives. Our research also confirmed that there was a great opportunity for us as our ciders are far higher quality than the cheap mass produced ciders available but more accessible than the pricey craft options. This gave us the confidence to continue to invest in 2020 with the implementation of the rebrand and an expansion of our packaging capability to include setting up our own canning line for the first time.”
Barny elaborates: “At the beginning of the first lockdown our usual canning business became too busy to provide us with the capacity that we needed. We knew that canned cider offered us a huge potential market, as it is not well served by quality craft ciders, so we took the plunge and invested in our own in-house canning line which delivers 3,500 cans of cider per hour. In the same period we also purchased brand new state of the art bottling machinery to allow us to meet the growing demand for our products and match our ambitious projections. This has tripled our bottling rate to an impressive 6000 bottles an hour. Alongside this, we have also increased automation in our kegging line thus ensuring that we control the whole process from orchard to glass and have the ability to meet future demands.”
Barny continues: “We believe that we make the best tasting cider and we are proud to do it properly taking a fresh, natural, low impact approach and using the best apples in the world. With our new branding and expanded capacity we are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of our fast growing fan base as well as those consumers wanting to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting. We make simply great cider and we are optimistic that 2021 will be a simply great year for us.”
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. They press and ferment whole juice from the finest locally grown bittersweet apples and age it to perfection to create beautifully balanced and naturally refreshing cider.
Sandford Orchards’ range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders which will soon be joined by some brand new vintage ciders due to be launched in March.
For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit www.sandfordorchards.co.uk
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