Nick's cider adventure gets off to a golden start
- Credit: Nick Cunningham
It was a triple-win for local brand Axminster Craft Cider at the 2021 Taste of the West Awards, as each cider variety they entered was honoured with a gold by the judges.
Axminster Cider was started in 2019, when an interest in making cider evolved into a small business.
Owner Nick Cunningham said: “There was an ancient cider apple tree in the paddock behind our old cottage in Thorncombe. So I built a press out of oak beams and a car jack. The results were pretty good, and I wanted to know more about traditional West Country cider apples, and the traditional method of making cider.”
Nick's parents were friends of Rob Mangles, who planted an orchard 50 years ago at North Down Farm in North Perrott, Somerset, and now his grandson Ross supplies Axminster Cider with all of the ancient apple varieties that they need.
In a past life Nick spent years helping to market global drinks brands like Jameson, Strongbow, Bacardi, Budweiser and Coca-Cola. He used to love working on these iconic brands, but finds it much more satisfying to build up your own business from a standing start.
He said: “Our aim is to produce the best quality cider that we can. Nothing is added, apart from a little sugar to reduce dryness at the bottling stage. We’d never backfill with water or juice to lower the ABV, or add sulphites like most commercial makers do.”
The strategy seems to be working. Axminster Cider has received many glowing reviews that you can find online, and it has become the best selling cider at Millers Farm Shop, near Axminster, outselling all of the more established brands.
Nick added: “I always want to maintain the quality and taste delivery. We never want to make dull, run of the mill ciders.
“A cider should surprise you when you try it, and have the right balance of flavours. Clean and refreshing, but you also need to taste the orchard, like the terroir of a good wine. So we may actually never grow that big, because the bigger the batches that you make, the bigger the compromise on quality.”
Millers Farm Shop has been very supportive of Axminster Cider since day one. Their belief in local producers and the desire to offer their customers something different has helped a lot of other smaller brands.
Axminster Cider is stocked in many local farm shops like Millers, The Cotley Inn at Wambrook, The Kings Arms at Stockland and Thorncombe Village Shop, as well as many online cider specialists and Slurp.co.uk.
You can also get a case delivered from axminstercider.com