Cider of the Month: Kingston Black Cider


5th March 2018

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Our March ‘Cider of the Month’ is one of our prized single varieties – Kingston Black. Read all about this famous apple and what makes it such an important part of Somerset cider-making tradition...

Cider type: Dry
Strength: Alc. 6.5% Vol.
Apples: Only the finest homegrown Kingston Black apples – and nothing else.
About this cider: Sheppy’s Kingston Black Cider is only made with a famous Somerset apple revered by many as the finest cider variety in the world. The Kingston Black apple produces a crisp dry cider with a slight sparkle making it a must-try for real cider enthusiasts.

This cider was introduced into the Sheppy’s range in 1998 (which it makes it 20 years old this year) and remains one of our most popular single variety ciders thanks to it’s reputation as an ideal dry single variety cider.

Did you know?
The very first Kingston Black (also known as the Taunton Black) apples were grown in Kingston St Mary, less than 7 miles away from Sheppy’s House of Cider.

What is so special about the Kingston Black apple?
Cider producers across the globe revere the Kingston Black as the finest cider-making apple because of its true bittersharp qualities: it has a good balance of tannin and acidity meaning it has the ‘best of both worlds’.

Other bittersharp varieties can be quite harsh whereas the Kingston Black apple has a more rounded character by comparison. As a single variety it has all the unique qualities that makes it a good cider on its own, which means it doesn’t require blending with other varieties to balance it out.

Tricky things about this apple include the fact that it isn’t a good yielder, it’s biannual (which means it has a heavy crop one year followed by a lighter crop the next) and can be quite prone to disease.

The apple itself has to be picked at the right time. David Sheppy, our Master of Cider, says: “It isn’t called Kingston Black for nothing! If you leave it too long on the branch then it literally goes black. Apples normally go through a longer bruising process, but Kingston Black will turn quite quickly if you don’t keep an eye out for it. It keeps our pressing team on their toes!”

What’s the best way to enjoy this cider?
As one of the driest ciders in our range we recommend pairing ‘like for like’ with bold meaty dishes with a lot of character such as pheasant and other game. Vegetarians could pair this cider with smoked dishes, like a bold mac & cheese made with oak-smoked cheddar or an earthy wild mushroom risotto. Try it with this Oak-Smoked Cheddar and Wild Mushroom Quiche by our friends at Quicke’s.

Where can I try this cider for myself?
Our famous Kingston Black cider can be found up and down the country as well as globally. As one of the few single variety ciders that showcase this famous apple there is plenty of demand for it across the world. Look for our Kingston Black cider in Italy, Estonia and the Cider House in Denmark.

Closer to home you can find it in Booths, the Bristol Cider Shop and the House of Bruar in Scotland. You can even order it online at and have a case (or two!) delivered directly to your doorstep.

And of course we have plenty of Kingston Black in our House of Cider farm shop – just pop in and ask to taste it for yourself!

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