Napton Cidery is, unsurprisingly, in the village of Napton, not far from Southam in Warwickshire. Founded in 2015, they produce high juice content and expertly crafted cider. We attended one of their popular Ploughman's & Cider Tasting evenings alongside over 20 other participants.
Greeted by Karen, their Cidery Manager, we joined a table of 6 and started our evening’s tasting with their number 3, served flat, the traditional way. Now, as someone who hales from the West country, I am a cider puritan at heart; my partner, who I bought along as my guest, is a fruity guy, something I’ve never got into. So the number 3 was always going to hit the spot for me. A 6%, smooth dry cider, it’s bittersweet.
Then, came the number 4. In contrast, this was a lot sweeter, despite only being a medium. It had a caramel edge to it that we both really enjoyed. Number 5 came next, (can you see a trend) which is currently their only fruit cider, blackcurrant. All the sweetness comes from fresh blackcurrant rather than added sugar, so as my partner remarked, it’s practically healthy.
At this point, food was served. A hearty ploughman's with an incredible amount of cheese from their local village shop. This provided a great accompaniment to the cider, especially as everyone was pretty merry at this point. Not to waste it, Karen kindly provided everyone with sandwich bags for their cheese - which I very happily took home with me. While eating, we went for the Number 6, a medium dry, which understandably fell somewhere between the dry number 3 and the medium and caramel number 4. Overall, this was a favourite for a lot of our table.
It was then time to go somewhere a bit different. First with the Lost Apple. This harks back to the original iteration of Napton in 2015. When the husband and wife team behind Napton began their cider journey, they began by simply collecting all the waste apples from their local villages - a wonky veg box for cider if you will - and produced what most people would refer to as a scrumpy. They’ve now grown to a scale where the original model doesn’t work and have developed their flavours, so their apples now come from Herefordshire. However, the Lost Apple continues the tradition of gathering waste apples from nearby. A cloudy, quite dry cider, this was one of my favourites.
To finish, we had the Taproom Special, something that resembles a sparkling wine, and their apple brandy. The Taproom Special was light, fruity and fresh, and came served in a tall-stemmed glass. This would be a lovely alternative to sparkling wine for those who prefer cider and it even comes in a similar 750ml bottle. The brandy was wow, warming, to say the least, but silky smooth. As someone who uses brandy once a year to make a Christmas cake, I’m far from a connoisseur and brandy isn’t really to my taste.
Now you might be wondering how we got to rural Warwickshire without a car. And the truth is that my partner was the designated driver. He had a few samples along the way but was provided with a whopping great glass of their apple juice. To make up for driving, he was also allowed to take a full bottle of his favourite home; shockingly, he chose the number 3.
While there, we also went to see how the cider was made and visited their fermentation tanks. It was amazing how low tech the process was, but clearly the team at Napton are all about creating a traditional high-quality product. I was also impressed that nothing seemed to go to waste. From making their own cider vinegar to turning the pulp into animal feed for local pigs.
Napton have a range of products available on their website which are available for delivery. Their tasting room is open 7 days a week and they have a number of special events, like the one we attended, from pub quizzes to tastings, to live music. We both enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and the other 4 guests at our table were great fun. We even had another Devon native!
It’s a great family-run place, at its essence, that has grown within just 7 years of operations. The team have achieved a lot while they continue to grow their product range. Clearly, cider is their passion!
Chatting Food Contributor: Alice Hargreaves
For Alice, the thrill isn’t just in the eating but also in the creating, cooking, baking, pickling, and preparing of food. Having lived in Sydney, Australia and London, UK for a number of years, Alice is now based in the West Midlands.
Follow Alice @alice_ate_here