ONE of the area’s proudest brand names has been revived by a group of cider enthusiasts. There was widespread disappointment when Taunton Cider was bought up in the 1990s and production switched from its home of almost 100 years in Norton Fitzwarren to Shepton Mallet before the name disappeared. The factory off the main Taunton to Wiveliscombe road was eventually sold off and converted into a housing estate and the company name appeared destined to be consigned to the history books – until this month. The Taunton Cider Company has been relaunched in a bid to bring back the glory days of its predecessor, which produced 30 million gallons of cider a year and employed 550 workers at its peak in the mid-1990s. The new company is based in Churchstanton, barely ten miles from its original home. Miles Gray, from The Taunton Cider Company, said: “We are proud and excited to resurrect this once famous name. “We want to truly cherish this great brand and will make every effort to build it back to its rightful position, respected in the cider community and enjoyed by cider lovers everywhere. “We would also like to acknowledge the immense support of our local partners from the farmers to cider makers who have provided their advice.” The original Taunton Cider name is synonymous with lines such as Autumn Gold, Dry Blackthorn, Natural Dry and Diamond White. And now first off the press at the new company is Taunton Cider Original, which Mr Gray says draws on the extensive heritage of the brand, respecting the way Taunton Cider used to be made, using traditional equipment. The finest, and locally sourced, English bitter sweet cider apples have been selected, specifically classic varieties Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Harry Masters Jersey. At four per cent ABV, Taunton Cider Original is gently carbonated to produce a clear, crisp, sparkling medium cider with a distinct apple nose and soft astringency on the palate. Mr Gray added: “Extensive taste tests have been conducted to ensure the final experience is the best is can be. “Plans are under way to launch two more variants, Taunton Cider Natural Dry and Taunton Cider Traditional, in the coming year.” Distribution will initially be focused on the brand’s heartland in Somerset and the broader South West region. *Have you got any memories of when Taunton Cider thrived at Norton Fitzwarren – did you work there or did you enjoy a favourite tipple? Let us know.
- 1805: Local farmers’ co-operative formed to produce a cider in Norton Fitzwarren.
- early 1900s: The Rev Cornish started producing cider from locally produced apples and pulp at Heathfield Rectory.
- 1911: The priest and the co-operative set up the Taunton Cider Company to commercially produce the cider.
- After the First World War, the company was solely supplying pubs in the wider Taunton area.
- 1921: Taunton Cider Company became a private limited company.
- 1923: The company survived despite the Government introducing a purchase tax on cider.
- 1950s: The introduction of pasteurisation gave the cider a much longer shelf life and it was marketed nationally. Taunton Cider bought up local competitors Quantock Vale, Ashford Vale, Brutton and Horrells.
- 1980s: It became the second largest cider maker in the UK, employing 550 people in Norton Fitzwarren and producing 30 million gallons of cider a year.
- 1995: The firm was bought by Matthew Clark in a £256 million deal, with production moving to Shepton Mallet.
- 2011: The Taunton Cider name disappeared…until now.