We are an award winning artisanal cider maker based in the Vale of Glamorgan just outside Cowbridge and Llanblethian.
Llanblethian Orchards was founded in 2006 with the aim to produce quality cider and perry from traditional fruit varieties using time honoured methods. A history of Llanblethian Orchards is available here.
Our fruit is sourced from our own orchard opposite the ‘three fields’ between Cowbridge and Llanblethian and from other traditional orchards around Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire.
We make draught ciders and perries, craft carbonated ciders and perries, coveted ice ciders and perries and cider vinegars. Which we sell via stockists throughout south Wales.
We believe passionately that you can only make quality cider from quality fruit processed in traditional methods without the addition of endless chemicals or industrial processes.
- We only use 100% fresh fruit in our ciders and perries, never ‘fruit’ concentrate. Not only does the concentration process rob the product of many of the delicate apple flavour compounds of the original juice but it is also stuffed full of preservatives to give the concentrate a long shelf life.
- We don’t water down our ciders to make lower ABV versions for the pub market. Not only is watering down the cider frankly ripping off the customer it is also dilluting all the wonderful apple flavours leaving an inferior product.
- We don’t ruin our ciders by throwing chemical laden ‘fruit’ flavours into our ciders. Our ciders can stand on their own why do we need to mask the flavour? Legally to be called cider the product only has to be 35% juice. How ‘fruit’ cider is industrially made is a base cider of 35% apple juice concentrate is fermented then industrial fruit concentrates and sweeteners are added to mask the awful flavour. Sounds pleasant?
- We believe in honesty. All our ciders and perries have full ingredient labelling including juice content. Legally alcoholic drinks are exempt of ingredient labels and you can easily see the quality of product by whether or not they are willing to reveal the full ingredients list.
All our ciders and perries are also suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.
We planted our orchard opposite the ‘three fields’ between Cowbridge and Llanblethian in the winters between 2006 & 2008 on the flood plain of the river Thaw.
As the trees were planted on the floodplain and at risk of flooding we planted the trees on raised soil mounds in the style of some traditional orchards from the Somerset levels. A similar method was used historically on the Gwent levels to commerically grow cider and eating apples using raised ridges. A few fragments of the ridged orchards are still visible today.
John Basham F.R.H.S.in 1899 explained the Gwent method:
“by cutting a grip on each side of the ridge, throwing the soil taken out of the grip into the centre, and raising it almost into the form of a minature arch or half-moon; the trees are generally planted on the surface, soil being carted from the banks that have been accumulating for many years by the sides of the public roads or from what has been cast out of the reens or ditches to cover the roots.”
When we planted the orchard we knew of no other cider apple orchards in the Vale of Glamorgan and as such we determined to plant a large range of varieties as we did not know what varieties would succeed with the local conditions. In total we planted 36 varieties of apple and 16 of pear. The varieties were a mix of old Welsh, Borders and Somerset varieties some well known such as Kingston Black, Dabinett & Yarlington Mill and some rare such as Black Tom Putt and Gwhelog.
The mix of varieties is one of the secret weapons in Llanblethian Orchards arsenal. With such a large range of varieties we are able to craft our blends and experiment with interesting and unusual flavours in our special edition ciders and perries.
Draught cider and perry
The majority of cider and perry we produce is sold as traditional still draught cider to the pubs and festivals market of South Wales. we keep a changing stock of seasonal ciders and perries available over the year together with our regulars. Our most popular ciders are Summer Funshine and May Day Sweet cider of which we sell many times over our dryer range.
New for 2018 is our craft cider range of carbonated ciders available in single use disposable 30L kegs. Our current craft ciders are May Day Sweet Cider and Whiskey Tango Foxwhelp.
Ice ciders and perries
Our bottled ice ciders and perries are the pinacle of our craft at Llanblethian Orchards. We first freeze the juice of selected apple varieties then let it slowly defrost and gather up the earliest melt. This gives us a concentrated juice of exceptional sweetness and flavour. We then ferment the juice slowly and cold range the cider many MANY times to naturally stop the fermentation early resulting in a naturally sweet and incredibly rich cider.
The production process of ice ciders and perries means that for 8 gallons of initial juice we may only end up with one gallon of resultant cider making the whole process exceedingly expensive, but we believe the result is worht every penny!
Traditional cider vinegar has been used for generations as a natural health tonic as well as a useful store cupboard ingredient and food suppliment for farm animals. Our cider vinegar is made from dedicated cider batches not from ‘bad’ cider like many makers do. We believe you can only make good vinegar from good cider. The cider we make it from has no added sulphites and is wild yeast fermented. The cider then has a vinegar ‘mother’ culture added to it and is allowed to slowly turn into vinegar.