Ty Gwyn Cider is a small, award-winning artisan cider company near the Black Mountains. In the 1990s, before Ty Gwyn’s Alex Culpin followed in his late stepfather’s cider-making footsteps, he was in a band called Tiny Monroe. They played at Glastonbury, and supported The Pretenders, Radiohead and Suede. Making great cider – like making great music – takes passion, practice and patience. So Alex only uses the best apples from local growers. (In fact, Ty Gwyn is named after his stepfather’s cider-apple farm in the Welsh Borders, where the first batch was crafted back in 2007.) Alex also presses the apples himself, uses 100% juice, and allows a generous time for fermentation. Here’s to cider that is made in tune with tradition – and hits all the right notes!
Ty Gwyn is the Welsh for ‘white house’ – the name of the farm in the Monnow Valley that belonged to my stepfather, James McConnel. He had been growing cider apples there since 1969. All his apples were traditionally bought by large cider companies, but one year he used some that were surplus to make his own craft cider. The first batch turned out exceptionally well, and Ty Gwyn Cider was born!
We are now based in the next valley at the farm I’ve been renovating with my wife, Laura. We’ve a cider shop and bar, guest accommodation (including our beautifully quirky Cider Shack, which was a star of the BBC’s My Unique B&B), and plenty of room for craft cider making!
We’ve our own belt press – the only one of its kind in the country. This allows me to press every apple we use and conduct the entire cider-making process myself. It’s an older, more hands-on, more artisanal approach, but one I love and am proud of.
With numerous Great Taste awards to our name, it seems those in the know appreciate the results of our efforts. But rather than resting to bask in the glow of appreciation, I take such things more as a call for an encore and encouragement to ensure we continue to hit all the right notes.
Raise a glass and enjoy a cider made in tune with tradition!
Cider & Melody Maker