Brexit roadtrip - Julian Temperley (Owner Somerset Cider Brandy)
“We have orchards here in Somerset, about 80 hectares, on which we grow 40 varieties of apples. And in our world, the art and the craft of cider and brandy making is the art and the craft of blending apple varieties. We grow about 1000-1500 tons of apples a year, and we press those. Then we blend for taste.”
“Then we’ve always had a shop where we sell people cider, but we’ve also needed to develop what we do, so now we also distill. We’re not making calvados, we’re making a cousin of calvados. We distill cider, which in that process becomes eau de vie, then after three years in a barrel it becomes brandy.”
What does the EU mean to you as a producer?
“Before we joined the EU, the British government was pushing mostly large scale industrial distilling, and preferably in Ireland or Scotland. Distilling in England had become somewhat of a sin. Luckily we have very old books describing and thereby legitimising the practice of making cider brandy in England.“
“The idea of artisan distilling in Britain became somewhat more accepted by our government because of Europe. So, we are a product of Europe. And England has taken a huge explosion of regional food and drink, and that is largely in part of Europe.”
What relations do you have with Europe?
“As a market Europe is also a factor, we export to Asia, to the US and to Europe. We don’t want to export to France, because we don’t want to fall in to the trap of making comments about calvados that could be construed as not friendly. But we’re happy to export a little bit to Holland, Denmark, to Italy, even to Lithuania and Estonia.”
Then, as I said, to produce brandy we need to age distilled cider [eau de vie] for at least three years in wooden barrels. We use mostly sherry barrels, which come out of Spain and France. We prefer sherry because it gives depth, flavour and mouthfeel in the ageing process. For whisky often bourbon barrels are used as well, which are cheaper and might give an oaky taste, but nothing close to what a sherry barrel adds. Now barrels have exploded in price. This is because the sherry business is no longer growing, but the demand for their used barrels out of the spirits and whisky world is expanding.”
How do you suspect Brexit will affect your business?
“It won’t affect our business too much I suspect, our barrels will become a bit more expensive and tariffs on our exports might go up. But luckily we’re not solely dependent on the European market. But for the country it’s terrible. This Brexit thing is entirely mad. We are in the process of a country committing suicide. It’s that bad. A soft Brexit would turn us into a colony of Europe. By ourselves, we are too small, meaning we will have to abide by the rules of the main market we will be dealing with without representation. We have no independent future, we’re too small.”