Apple Varietals

Somerset Cider Apples

Traditionally Somerset cider is made from a field blend. Farmers would have an idea in their heads of how they wanted their cider to taste and would plant different varieties in their orchard each with its own taste to bring to the blend. We divide these characteristics into broad categories which are pretty self explanatory: Bitter Sweet, Bitter Sharps and Sweet and a typical orchard would maybe have a third of each type. They would also have been some apples that were good for both cider, cooking and eating. Below is a list of some of the varieties you’ll see on labels and what you can expect of them if you have never tried them before. If you would like to add any more varietals then let us know.

Dual Purpose Apples

Hoary Morning

Crimson King, dessert and cider apple.
Hoary Morning (pictured) thought to be from Somerset, first recorded in 1819, dessert & cooker. We’ve never actually come across this but it’s such a great name that we thought we’d include it. Apprently once quite common, sharp.
Tom Putt, stories differ: thought to have been raised by Tom Putt, rector of Trent near Sherborne in the late 1700s, or perhaps by his uncle on the family estate in Gittisham, Devon. Also thought to be same as Tom Potter and Devonshire Nine Square of Gittisham near Honiton in 1700s. Grown for cider in West Country and West Midlands until early 20th century, cider & cooking apple.

Cider Apples

Backwell Red grown around Backwell in early 1900s.
Burrow Hill Early from Burrow Hill, Kingsbury Epsicopi, 1980s, thought to be older variety, but name unknown.
Chisel Jersey from Martock, in the 19th century, was popular locally for cider up until 1960s and 70s. Thought to be related to Dabinett.
Coat Jersey from Coat, Martock, recorded 1950s.
Dabinett from a hedge in Middle Lambrook by William Dabinett in the early 1900s. Still a popular cider apple. There is a seedling from Kingsbury Episcopi which is close to our farm called Black Dabinett which we would like to make cider from one day. It gives a cider with good tannin balance by nice round fruit flavours. It has small, yellow-green fruit flecked with red, usually harvested in November in the United Kingdom. The flesh is greenish and aromatic.
Dove from Glastonbury, recorded 1899 but probably older.
Dufflin from Taunton. Sweet cider, grown in West Country.
Fair Maid of Taunton/Moonshines probably from Taunton, now found around Glastonbury.
Harry Master’s Jersey, thought to have been raised by Harry Masters in Yarlington in the late 19th century.
Kingston Black probably from Kingston near Taunton in second half of 19th century.
Pennard Bitter named for West Pennard, propagated by Mr Heal of Glastonbury in late 19th century. Often seen as being the best apple to make single varietal cider and now much sought after.
Morgan Sweet - an early cropping varietal used for making early drinking cider that was ready while you were waiting for the main crop to mature.
Port Wine of Glastonbury - as the name suggested, beautiful rounded deep coloured apple that makes a naturally medium sweet style.
Porter’s Perfection
from orchard of Charles Porter, East Lambrook in 19th century, now found around Martock. It has good acidity adding freshness and bite to a blend. We really like using it in Half Moon for balance.
Slack ma Girdle. Even if it tasted terrible we’d still probably stock this if we could. No idea where the name comes from but it makes a good rich cider with a distinctive pleasant tobacco or nutty after-taste.
Somerset Redstreak was a famous Herefordshire apple in the Eighteenth Century,which was as highly prized as the most expensive wines. Fast forward a couple of hundred years and nobody is sure if the Somerset version is a direct relative but what you can be sure of is that on its own, it makes a toothsome cider. You could see how it may be related to its old northern cousin as it isn't very full bodied but what it lacks in body it more than makes up for with refreshment.
Sops in Wine. Beautiful deep red apples that give a red coloured juice. Great as eaters and make a fruity light cider.
Stable Jersey probably from Shepton Mallet, thought to be an old variety.
Stembridge Cluster from Sam Duck of Stembridge, Kingsbury Episcopi.
Stembridge Jersey probably from Stembridge, Kingsbury Episcopi.
Stoke Red thought to be from Wedmore, also found at Rodney Stoke in 1920s.
Taylor’s Sweet / Taylor’s probably from South Petherton, sold by Porter’s Nursery there in 19th century, thought to be older. It is a mild and delicate variety which produces a cider with a light, refreshing flavour, and subtle aroma. Note, an attempt to find an image of this apple on the web will be confronted with a Taylor Swift collage. Not unpleasant but maybe a little bland (Swift not Sweet).
Tom Putt Nice dual use apple, good to cook with and also for making good fresh crisp cider.
Tremlett. Full round dry and tannic cider which is much more fun than it sounds. In its own way Tremlett is a classic Somerset cider style. The sort of thing you drink with food and with Farmhouse Cheddar it is a match made in Somerset heaven.
White Jersey thought to be from near Cadbury Castle in the 19th century.
Yarlington Mill from Yarlington near Cadbury, found growing in a wall by a water wheel in early 1900s, and replanted in Yarlington Mill.

Other Less Common Apples Bailbrook Seedling, Bartletts Glory, Bath Russet, Beauty of Wells, Broadleaf Jersey, Brockhead, Cap of Liberty, Coopers Favourite, Dorset, Dunnings Russet, Even Pearmain, Fill Barrell,Gatcombe, Glory of the West, Golden Farmer, Golden Wonder, Green Pearmain, Hagloe Pippin, Lambrook Pippin, Lambrook Seedling, Mealy Late Blossom, Nine Square, Pyleigh, Radcliffe Nonpariel, Red Worthy, Rich’s Favourite, St Ivel Pippin, Taunton Golden Pippin, Taunton Nonpariel, White Close Pippin, Worcester Cross, Yeovil Sour.