Our Food Hero of the month is one of the oldest and best known artisan distilleries in the UK - The Somerset Cider Brandy Company.
Upon reaching this beautiful farm which is based in South Somerset amongst 160 acres of cider apple orchards at the base of Burrow Hill, you immediately get the sense that something special is going on here. Owner Julian Temperley, led the revival in the art of distilling cider brandy, and in 1989 was eventually awarded the first full cider distilling licence in recorded history granted by HM Customs.
Julian cares for every detail from the way the apples are grown to the barrels that the cider brandy is fermented in. The quality and taste of the apples, all sourced from their own orchards or local Somerset growers, is essential and he makes sure all are grown without spraying them with fertilizers or insecticides. The journey the apples go through to produce cider and then cider brandy is long and requires a lot of patience but the incredible and unique taste of the final product is a testament to the passion and experience Julian puts into every bottle he produces.
In 2003 Somerset Cider Brandy was declared to be part of the Slow Food UK’s 80 Ark of Taste products. A great honour! As well as his range of Somerset Cider Brandy which has been maturing for a minimum of 3 years up to 20 years, Julian also offers several other alchoholic products which are all available to buy online.
The farm is open for tours and tastings, and visitors can enjoy themselves in the charming interior of the ciderhouse where there is cider and Somerset Cider Brandy to sample amongst the oak vats, barrels and presses - all the paraphernalia associated with 150 years of cider making.
You can also view the copper stills, protected by armour-plated glass and 68 locks and seals (by order of HM Customs & Excise) in the distillery.
Visitors can also follow the orchard trail where different apple varieties and other interesting features are explained.
Here at Clavelshay Barn, Chef Verden loves to use The Somerset Cider Brandy in a number of dishes including his incredibly delectable Crème Brûlée.
Somerset Apple Brandy Crème Brûlée
6 Local Free Range Egg Yolks 625g Double Cream 100g Caster Sugar ½ Vanilla Pod (use fairtrade) Somerset Apple Brandy to taste (approx. 3 Tblsp or more)
• Scrape the vanilla pod and place all the pod into the cream and bring to the boil • Mix together the yolks and sugar until mixed and well combined • Pour the hot cream onto the yolks and sugar whilst mixing constantly • Pick out the vanilla pod • Add the brandy and taste, add more if needed • Pour into ramekins or moulds • Cook in tray of hot water in the oven at 140 oC for around 15-20 mins or until just set with a slight wobble. • Chill and allow to set
The Somerset Cider Brandy Company:
All photos (except Crème Brûlée) are from The Somerset Cider Brandy Company's website and Facebook page.