South West of England Cidermakers’ Association

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Healey's Texan-Style Hard Cider breaches responsibility code

Portman Group's Independent Complaints Panel has ruled that Healey’s Texan-style Hard Cyder has breached alcohol responsibility rules for making alcoholic strength its dominant theme.

A member of the public complained that the product name had links with toughness, violence and aggression.

The Cornish Cyder Farm, owners of Healey’s Texan-style Hard Cyder, explained that the product had been inspired by Texan heritage and that it had purposely adopted the American terminology of ‘hard cider’ meaning cider with alcohol. In America, ‘cider’ is non-alcoholic.

In considering the complaint, the Panel noted that there was an explanation on the back of the label explaining the use of ‘hard’ cider as referring to an alcohol drink. The Panel felt, however, that such an explanation was not relevant to UK consumers to whom ‘cider’ exclusively referred to an alcoholic drink. The Panel considered that while in some UK regions the term ‘hard’ could imply a person was violent and aggressive, this term was not universally recognised, while ‘hard’ in the context of an alcoholic drink, had direct associations with strong alcohol and this led the product to breach the Code.

Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

"It is not acceptable to make alcohol strength the dominant theme of a drink. Alcohol producers must exercise extreme caution and we strongly recommend they use the Portman Group’s free pre-launch advice service. We are pleased that the company has agreed to consult our Advisory Service going forward.

 A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued which instructs licensees and retailers not to place orders for Healey’s Texan-style Hard Cyder in its current form after 15 April 2012.

Rulings made by the Panel are published in full on the Portman Group’s website

SWECA Winter meeting

This year’s winter meeting will be held on Thursday 1st March at The Queens Arms, Wraxall, nr Shepton Mallet on Thursday 1st March. The meeting will start at 11am, with coffee being served from 10.30am and lunch will be at 12.30pm. After lunch there is a visit to Orchard Pig at West Bradley to see the new systems used for apple growing, worth seeing as it may become practical sooner than we all think.

Shepton Cider Mill Wassail

With its roots in an ancient Pagan tradition, the custom of wassailing is thriving once again throughout the South West and Somerset in particular.
On the official wassail night, 17th January, (the original “Twelfth Night” of the Julian Calendar), the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill hosted its annual wassailing ceremony for its growers, customers and suppliers in its own award winning Stewley Orchard. The aim of the wassail is to awaken the cider apple trees, scare away evil spirits and ensure a bountiful harvest of fruit in the Autumn.
The Stewley Master of Ceremonies, from Taunton Deane Morris Men, led the proceedings. Remaining faithful to the traditions, the evening’s ceremony saw the Wassail Queen (Saima Nevin, an employee of the Cider Mill) crowned with a wreath of berries, dip toast in mulled cider and place it in the branches of the tree to attract robins, the embodiment of good spirits bringing fertility to the orchard.  The cider was then poured onto the roots of the chosen tree to call for a good harvest.
The assembled crowd were instructed to make as much noise as possible - banging sticks and playing instruments to scare away evil spirits.  A volley of gunfire was sent into the branches of the tree for good measure and singing of the Wassail Carol completed the ceremony.
The following feast plays an important part of the celebration:  it is the last big meal before Plough Sunday, which historically signalled the beginning of the year’s work on the land.  Keeping to this tradition, guests at the Stewley Orchard wassail were provided with a fantastic spread including hog roast and a winter BBQ, whilst enjoying a range of ciders from the Cider Mill, from Blackthorn to Gaymers Orchard Reserve.  The Taunton Deane Morris Men and music from the Wassail Blues Band (members of which include two Cider Mill employees ) completed the evening’s entertainment.
This is the sixth year running that Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, the largest cider maker in the South West, has held its revival of the ancient festival.  Martin Doogan, general manager of the Cider Mill, explained  “this has become a highlight of our calendar.  It is a real reflection of the importance that apple growing has in this part of the country, and provides the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate this fact with our guests.   We place great value on the cultural heritage of cider making in the South West, particularly Somerset, and are immensely proud to be playing our part in keeping wassailing alive.”

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