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Visit to Thatchers Cider
Saturday 8th July 2017

On a warm Summer’s Day, what could be better than to learn how Cider is produced and then taste the results? That is exactly what 15 of us (well 14 plus a ‘temporary’ member – Jane’s stepmum Margaret) did on this visit to Thatchers in the village of Sandford in Somerset.


 

Thatchers have been making Cider for over 100 years through 4 generations, although Margaret was telling us her family have been in Sandford even longer and known the Thatchers all that time. It was 1904 when William John Thatcher first made his delicious apple cider at Myrtle Farm. His farm workers who enjoyed William’s finest as part of their wages were said to be the best around – just like the cider.

 

 


Myrtle Farm was originally a working animal farm and it was in 1984 when the last of the pigs were taken to market so they could concentrate more on cider making and make room for more orchards.

 

They now have over 500 acres of orchard with over 458 different varieties of apple, both eating and cooking apples.

 

Our host, Phil Smith showed us around, starting with the site where they are building a new distribution centre. We then went inside a new production building to see the cider is put into kegs, also a hi-tech canning facility. This will be joined soon by a bottling facility as well. We then went back to the start of the process to see the pits into which the apples are delivered either by tractor from the local orchards or lorry trailer for those orchards further away. These arrive from September to November. The apples are then washed, cut up and enter a giant press to have the juice squeezed out of them. This is then heated to produce a concentrate that is then stored for when it is needed. When some juice is required, the concentrate is re-hydrated and fermented for 8 days. The Cider is then matured and blended in huge oak barrels, each one over 150 years old and the largest one holding 135,500 pints of cider. From here it goes to the production building we saw earlier.


 

 

 

Then came the serious business of tasting the results! We sampled 4 different types. – Katy, which is produced from a single variety of apple called Katy, Haze, which is naturally cloudy, Old Rascal, which is medium dry but full bodied and lastly Vintage, which is also medium dry and full flavoured. All had their own individual taste, but with something to suite every palate.


 

 

 

 

 

 

With the tour lasting 2 hours, it was now time to turn to the serious business of lunch. This took a little longer to arrive than expected, but when it finally did, it was definitely worth the wait! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meal and after a visit to the shop, it was time to head back up the M5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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