A NEW cider company has seen off competition from around the world to claim a clutch of awards at its first attempt.

Berwick-based Monkey House Cider took the bronze medal in three categories of the International Cider Challenge 2021. The competition attracted entries from 18 countries on four continents. Its blind-tasting panel of 30 judges announced their decision on Friday (July 16).

“We’re over the moon to get this kind of recognition so soon,” said Monkey House founder and cider-maker Phil Elliott. “This has been our first year of production and we thought it was a bit early to be taking on the world. But we sent some samples to a cider expert – just to get his advice, really – and he wrote straight back to say we’d be mad not to give it a go.”

The medal-winning ciders were See No Evil – made with apples from two estates in the Borders; Speak No Evil – an oak-aged cider made from Somerset apples; and Pineapple & Passionfruit – made from a mix of apples and tropical fruit. A fourth entry won praise from the judges but didn’t quite make the medals.

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Phil's success didn’t come out of the blue. He learned his craft in Somerset has previously co-founded a small craft cider business in the Scottish Borders. His new venture is focused on traditional techniques and small-scale production to create both traditional and new-style drinks – including some craft beers.

Before the awards were announced, Monkey House had been attracting growing attention from cider afficionados. Its products are already stocked by bars and retailers from Newcastle to Edinburgh. “And since the awards news broke, the phone’s hardly stopped ringing,” says Phil.

“We’ve been stocking a range of Monkey House ciders from the outset,” says Gemma Cook, licensee of Berwick’s Curfew micropub – a regular winner of CAMRA’s Best Cider Pub in Northumberland award. “They’re outstanding products, and they’ve been very popular with our customers.”