With an unquenchable thirst for cider knowledge, we recently headed to Thatchers Myrtle Farm. Responsible for the care of over 458 apple tree varieties, orchard manager Chris Muntz-Torres and his team were at their busiest time of the year (impeccable timing from us as always) getting ready to harvest the first varieties of apple.
After having a giggle at a piece of machinery called a ‘shaker’ (immature? us?) we followed the production path of the harvested apples all the way to the traditional oak vats (that are still routinely used in the production of Thatchers’ speciality brews). Head cider-maker Richard Johnson was on hand to let us in on some of the science behind products like Thatchers Vintage and Katy.
“It’s the same process as in the production of red wine – that’s why you always look for a bit of age,” he says. “It’s the same way that tannin compounds behave in wine, so here in the vats we’re maturing the cider for a much longer period. This takes from a four to six weeks, maybe a little bit longer.
“If you look up at the vats you can see that all of them are different sizes because they’re made from trees, so each tank is unique and it will mature at a different rate. The only way to tell whether the cider is matured is to get up on top, get a jug full out and taste it. That’s what we do every Friday at 12.30.”
For a chance to see the orchards and cider making at Thatchers as well as bag a meal for two in The Railway Inn, comment on the Facebook post below, telling us which is the first variety of apple to be picked. (Psst: the answer is in the video!)