And The Winner Is…
Awards Like No Other
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. It feels great to be able to give something back to the industry that has given me so much. This is an award with the kind of bankable bonus that doesn’t grow on trees!
The winners get prizes to help them on the journey, mentoring and advice on strategy, branding and technical help with cider production, and guaranteed listing in both on and off trade. Because rosettes are nice, but 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 sets of hands. The BCMA is a slingshot prize to a cider maker the judges felt had the kind of promise, purpose and potential to go to the next level.
From a group of fantastic (and I mean fantastic) ciders, several got very close to grabbing the top prize. But our overall winner was Thornborough cider. The cider was great, 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.
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 slightly different. There were a couple of ciders where it was hard to see what the cider maker had to learn – the job was so well done we felt they were kind of there already! A few were pretty happy with their size, and some needed to do a little more with their cider before they were going to be ready.
Worthy Runners Up
Rick Wyatt from Pang Valley and Marc Salter of Ex-press Cider – both took away silver awards. Their ciders are consummate examples of the quality that can be achieved whilst being approachable and boasting broad appeal. Rick from the East and Marc from the West, both allowing their respective fruit to be the stars of the show.
Looking at all the ciders that came through the judging rounds was a pleasure. I knew many of them already – as a cider nerd I’m always excited to try new ciders and taste other cideries’ outputs. We’ve been at this for the better part of 20 years now, and in that time made a bunch of mistakes (we still do) and because we all enjoy being surrounded by like minded people – who want to move cider and the perception of cider forward it’s really exciting to get a chance to work with the winners of the BCMA.
Good Times Ahead
When we are past the viral incarceration that we currently have to accept, these awards are going to be even more fun. Bringing cider makers together is always brilliant for sharing ideas, war stories and dreaming up plans which we all hope will bring the joy of cider to more and more people.
As an industry we can sometimes be a little guilty of looking inwards, “If I can persuade that outlet to take my competitor out and sell my cider I’ll be happy.” We want to change the conversation – “90% of drinkers don’t drink cider – let’s change their minds!” 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 marvelous drink that really does grow on trees!
We would like to thank Westons Cider, Vigo Limited, Darts Farm and The Stable for their support and collaboration to make the awards happen.
- Business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfield, founder Sandford Orchards
- Retail listing (minimum 12 months) Darts Farm, Devon
- On-Trade listing – Nearest Stable restaurant to winner.
- £500 to spend with Vigo limited
- Technical visit to Weston’s cider, quiz the cider makers.