Paul Ross of Downside Perry based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, talks to Crafty Nectar briefly about his setup and the industry. Keep your eyes peeled for his Downside Special Reserve, it's sublime!
1.You're cidery is based in Shepton Mallet? Why here?
In some ways Shepton Mallet is a central point of Somerset cider-making. We have the cider mill down the road which has always meant that a lot of the cider fruit came this way from all over Somerset. Also, as a perry-maker it is an interesting location, as Babycham was based here. Although Babycham is a pretty poor representation of perry, the Showerings were responsible for most of the perry pear plantings in Somerset and in many ways this was the central point of all perry orchards in Somerset.
2.How long have you been producing perry/cider for on a commercial basis?
3.What's the most difficult challenges you face as a cider-maker?
In many ways perry is more work than cider and less profitable. Unlike cider apples, most perry pear trees are in locations that are un-managed and un-mechanised and so harvesting has to be done the old fashioned way. The fruit is difficult to find and has to be processed more carefully in ways that slow down your workload significantly.
4.If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Drinks labelled as cider need to have a higher minimum juice content. 80%-90% seems realistic.
5.Your top selling cider/perry?
The 2016 bottle conditioned Antricotin, Rock and Huffcap blend.
6.What makes your perry's different?
I use a combination of English, French and German perry pears. The continental pears have higher tannin and acid and make for a richer drink.
8.What's the key to producing a good perry?
Very rich, late season fruit, a lot of care and attention and then a lot of time!