Cider Musings

English Apple Cider Brandy


Distillation of cider into brandy was well known in UK up until cheap gin supplanted of spirits around 1700 with the Dutch William of Orange on the throne. For example there is a will of the last prior of Monacute Priory noting his still in 1560. There must have been a relatively large industry as there was a tax bracket. First UK Excise license granted to Bertram Bulmer in October 1984 after a long battle with Customs and Excise.

He imported a pot still made in 1905 from Normandy where apple brandy is called Calvados and called it King Offa’s Distillery after the local Anglo Saxon Mercian King. Bertram obtained Royal patronage and the Queen donated oak for making English oak barrels for the brandy maturation. At Bulmer’s Centenary Bertram presented the Queen a bottle of apple brandy made in those casks. Sadly King Offa's distillery has closed but Julian Temperley in Somerset is making excellent apple brandy for many years from 1989.