I bought the business from Jim Cassel in 2005 as a novice cider maker, having dabbled in making beer and wines over the years. I had just left an international company after many years and was looking for something to occupy me on a small scale. That's when I saw Jim's article in 'Ale'. The upshot was a few convivial drinks and a bit of discussion and we came to a great agreement. I worked with Jim over the 2005/2006 season learning the ropes, and the intricacies of traditional cider making from apple picking to kegging and bottling and, of course, sales and delivery. A steep and very enjoyable learning curve, with lots of fun and laughter along the way, especially as Jerry Brown, of fond memory, was usually involved in pressing and bottling.

Over the years, the cider has changed and developed, mostly due to the use of increasingly higher proportions of cider apples in the blend. This true cider fruit is sourced and collected from growers in Herefordshire and Cambridgshire, and gives a far greater depth and complexity of flavour than the ordinary cookers and eaters usually associated with East Anglian ciders. Also, all the fruit we use is, if not organically certified, from totally pesticide-free unsprayed orchards. We still use a proportion of cookers and eaters in our blended Stock cider.

As part of our growth we have increased production of single-variety ciders each made, logically, from one variety of fruit. The origins of some of these types go back to the 17th century and beyond. Recent examples have been Harry Masters Jersey, Bulmers Norman, Stoke Red and the delicious Dabinett and Yarlington Mill. The Cider made from these is a tribute to the complexity and variety of true natural cider. Over the last seven years the business has expanded and investment made to improve production and marketing, meaning that we have a small but vibrant Cidery with potential for expansion.

I have taken the decision to sell up and concentrate on other things, and although I am in no particular rush it would be beneficial to any buyer to be involved from the start of the pressing season in September and work through learning on the job. Apart from anything else, you get to meet some great characters, drink in some fantastic pubs and you take money from the landlord instead of the other way round. I would give full training and help during any hand over period. If you want to know more, drop me an email. Oh, and I do work at my other job as well, so being a cider-maker could fit into anyone's lifestyle.

Sinclair Stevenson
You can contact him at sinclair.stevenson@casselscider.co.uk