Originally Posted on Feb 01, 2017
Our latest Q&A sees us taking a look at Celtic Marches, a Herefordshire cider producer based in Bishops Frome which is run by brother and sister, Susan Vaughan and Robert Hancocks. The distillery has recently been awarded PGI. Protected Geographical Indicator, authenticating that their ciders are genuine Herefordshire ciders, made from Herefordshire apples.
Fruit and hops have been grown on the farm for over 100 years, with their farming roots going back into mid wales and the Welsh borders. Celtic Marches draws on that heritage and history to produce their quality ciders on the family farm.
Who are you and what do you do? I am Susan Vaughan, a director of Celtic Marches and Marches Bottling and Packaging. Every day is manic, but positively so. My job is a Jill of All Trades and I like to think I am master of most of them too! Many topics cross my desk in the course of the day from all spheres of the business.
How did you get into this line of work? Having been brought up on the family farm in Herefordshire in The Welsh Marches, I first remembering drinking cider as a small child. I sometimes wonder if it runs in my veins instead of blood – it is so deep rooted. My passion for cider making was inherited from my father.
What inspired you to start up the brewery / what was the inspiration for starting the brewery? I had a history in major cider manufacturing and was fed up of the bureaucracy and wanted to create and make cider we were proud of and with a wonderful team behind me – I think we’ve done it. What makes me passionate? To taste cider we have made and think – that’s fantastic – is a really good feeling.
Are there any other breweries which have inspired/influenced you? I learnt ‘my trade’ with a major cider manufacturer for sixteen years and I am grateful for the knowledge and abilities I acquired during that time across all aspects of the industry.
I have tremendous admiration for Weston’s and Thatcher’s and how they have built their businesses on their heritage and both businesses are still run by family members.
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time? Hopefully our flagship brands (oops that sounds a bit grand) Thundering Molly Lily The Pink and Slack Alice will be well established in various packaging formats.
The cider market seems to be going from strength to strength. Why do you think it has become so popular in recent years? Personally I believe it is the current trend and everything goes in cycles and cider is on a peak at the moment and I am sure other drinks will eclipse it in the course of time. However I am certainly not complaining, long may the trend continue.
What is the hardest thing to master when learning to make cider? Every tank of cider is different in abv and in acidity. Therefore when producing cider for a particular brand you have to take these variables into account – the recipe will vary slightly each time to ensure you achieve consistency.
What is the best part of your job? Creating brands people want to buy – especially sitting anonymously in a restaurant or a pub and watching people enjoying our products.
What do you think makes a great cider? Quality cider fruit from a well managed Herefordshire orchard pressed using a commercial press, filtered and slightly sweetened if necessary – nothing more. Some of the ciders of Brittany and Normandy are not to be ignored when looking for great cider.
What was your first drink and where were you when you had it? Cider drunk at home with fish and chips at the approximate age of 8 years old.
What drink can you no longer face having had one too many? Brandy and Babycham – yuk!
What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk? In my younger days I have done so many silly things that I don’t care to recall them as I will have sleepless nights cringing with embarrassment – I hasten to add I stay well within my 14 units a week now!
You are stuck on a desert island, what three things are you taking with you? My knitting, my border terrier Nerys and a very large box of matches.
Thanks to Susan for talking to us.
Click here to browse and purchase Celtic Marches Cider