Hallets Cidery in the Brecon Beacons Beckons! (try saying that after a pint or two)
Hallets – Wales - Perry (4.5% ABV)
Who here has heard of Wales…? Yes, they like their singing and they’re pretty good at playing rugby but it also turns out they have a knack of making good cider and perry as well! Hallets cidery is based on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and is headed up by chief cidermaker, Andy, who has been making cider for the best part of sixteen years, commercially for the last ten. The 25-acre farm, of which half has been planted up with orchards, is set at 1,000 ft. above sea level, which makes for a pretty windy harvest each year, I’m sure! Could this be the highest orchard in the UK? Altitude has a funny way of affecting fruit growth and maybe this is one of the secrets behind their great tasting cider.
Hallets have harvested about 100 tonnes of fruit this year, from which they will make around 80,000 litres of cider and perry. Their philosophy is quality above all else and even though there is space to expand by a small amount, they will never risk dropping these standards by overproducing. They have invested heavily over the last few years in stainless steel tanks, which has been paramount for them in order to produce a line of high quality products. They stress the importance of having a high level of cleanliness within the cidery, as is key with the production of any type of food or drink. Godliness is cleanliness as somebody once told me when I was working away in a winery!
Anne, Andy’s wife, revealed that he bases a lot of his cidermaking from winemaking techniques (stirring the lees being one of them) and was one of the first cidermakers in the UK to start using these methods, which it appears to be working to great effect. As Guardian wine columnist, Fiona Beckett, recently described Hallets cider as “the most beautiful cider" she had tasted. Well, all I’ve got to say to you Fiona, is, taste the bloody perrys - that would be right up your (wine) street! The perry is made by using Blakeney Reds, which is apparently named after the village of Blakeney in the Forest of Dean. Some of the trees are over 300 years old and it is now the most common perry pear in the Gloucestershire and Herefordshire region. Perry facts out of the way and tasting analysis underway…
Amber in appearance, with bubbles appearing as it’s poured. On the nose, it has that recognisable buttery chardonnay aroma to me, which is pretty unique…and already has my attention. On the palette, I get this nice bite of acidity with a delicate pear intensity coming through. It has a very lean and pristine style and reminds me (apologies to reverting to wine again) of a white wine from the Loire with that same level of freshness and light body. Think a Muscadet, Sauvignon blanc and Chenin Blanc. With time, the effervescence disappears and it becomes a still perry. I have to say it is a super classy beverage. So, if you’re ever around the Brecon Beacons, thinking about hiking or mountain biking (way too strenuous), why not pop into Hallets cidery for a tasting instead. You won’t regret it.