For 300 years, and eight generations, the Chevallier Guild family has been making cider in Suffolk. And, for 61 years, the orchards have been organic, Perronelle Guild (inspired by her friend Lady Balfour) having joined the Soil Association in 1946. Suffolk cider is different from that in the West Country, being made, generally, from eating apples, but Barry Chevallier Guild, with his brother, Henry and parents, John and Jenny all partners in the firm have developed a cider of Cox’s Orange Pippin and Bramley juice plus 10% to 15% of cider apple juice, ‘which is not over-powering like West Country cider or fizzy apple juice’.
The Chevalliers moved to Suffolk from Jersey in 1702. ‘My great-grandfather, JB, had three daughters, one of whom married a Mr Guild. My father, Commander Guild, added Chevallier back into the name. Aspall is after the house and parish. My children Olivia, eight, and Edward, six are very interested in carrying on with the cider. But, like my parents, I’ll let them do their own thing. My brother and I left, but came back in 1993,’ says Barry.
Aspall is now introducing new ciders, such as Perronelle’s Blush (‘my grand-mother had rosy cheeks’), which is sold as draught in pubs and has a little blackberry liqueur added. Aspall is the fastest-selling cider brand in Tesco and Sainsbury’s sales have doubled in the past two years, as has the workforce, from 30 to 60. ‘We use 100% fresh apple juice, undiluted. Everything is in the blending; we blend for the juice and then blend again to make the cider. If we get an amazing taste, we record every detail.’
Aspall also does a delicious cider vinegar it’s the leading specialist cider vinegar in the country. ‘Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Delia Smith all use it.’