CIDER made by award-winning West Dorset cider maker Nick Poole has gone on sale for the first time in shops and pubs.
Unsurprisingly, it’s proving popular – a decade of hard and thoughtful work has gone into it.
Mr Poole set up West Milton Cider Club near Bridport 10 years ago – the video above shows the early days of the club – and he founded the now famous Powerstock Cider Festival.
All this century – when not working as a builder, or playing in his band Harvest Moon – Nick’s devoted himself to the production of brilliant cider, experimenting, travelling, keeping detailed records.
Last Autumn his sparkling cider won a contest in France – to cries of “Ce n’est pas possible!” – and last month he was highly commended for his farmhouse cider at the Royal Bath & West Show. Also, in 2006, he won the Bath & West’s Cider Innovation award.
West Milton cider has only previously been available to non-club members at special events like Powerstock Cider Festival and the recent Bridport Beer Festival.
But now, emboldened and curious to see what the wider world thinks, Nick has set up the West Milton Cider Company to sell West Milton Real Cider, a natural farmhouse cider, with a medium flavour.
“It was a long cold winter, so there was a much slower fermentation than normal,” said Nick.
“It’s got a good taste and flavour with a very fruity background.
“I’m quite excited and encouraged to see how quickly people have taken up buying it.”
Only 400 gallons were made, using apples from Rupert Best’s orchards at Melplash, mostly Dabinett and Chisel Jersey.
West Milton Real Cider comes in 3-litre or 20-litre boxes.
It’s available at The Spyway in Askerswell, which has already got through more than 20 litres, The Stable in Bridport (that’s the cider and pizza bar at the back of The Bull Hotel – also now on to its second big box), Hop in the Grapevine (in East Street, Bridport, where Threshers used to be) and at Washingpool Farm just outside Bridport, where it’s also been selling well.
Update on Thursday June 24: it’s also now at The Knapp Inn in Beaminster.
Nick also made 500 bottles of sparkling cider, to be called Lancombe Rising, which will probably go on sale around the end of July.
He’s now trying to decide whether to keep production at about the same level for next year, or push out from the heartlands of West Dorset over towards Dorchester and Weymouth.
If he does choose to make more, he will probably need to make a new press.
Update Thursday lunchtime, June 24: I spoke to Nick a few minutes ago and he thinks he might well go for it and double production for next year…
Update late Tuesday lunchtime, August 3: Lancombe Rising is now on sale. It looks unusually cloudy for a commercial product, but what it tastes like will be the test. I’m saving the bottle I’ve just bought for another occasion and will report back. It should be very good indeed, thinking back to what I’ve had before.