The new definition of cider for customs and excise purposes is to allow cider and perry to be sold as such with as little as 35% juice content, and possibly even less if the original juice is high gravity.
The Statutory Instrument can be viewed from the Office of Public Sector Information site at
2. In section 1 of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 (the alcoholic liquors dutiable under that Act), in subsection (6) (definition of “cider”)(b), for the words after “section 55B(1) below,” substitute— “cider (or perry)—
(a) which is of a strength exceeding 1.2 per cent but less than 8.5 per cent,
(b) which is obtained from the fermentation of apple or pear juice, without the addition at any time of—
(i) anyalcoholicliquor,or (ii) any liquor or substance which communicates colour or flavour,
other than such as the Commissioners may allow as appearing to them to be necessary to make cider (or perry),
(c) the pre-fermentation mixture for which satisfies the pre-fermentation juice requirement, and
(d) which satisfies the final product juice requirement. For the purposes of this subsection—
(i) “the pre-fermentation mixture” for cider (or perry) means the mixture of juice and other ingredients in which the fermentation from which the cider (or perry) is obtained takes place, as that mixture exists immediately before the fermentation process commences,
(ii) if the cider (or perry) consists of a blend of two or more liquors constituting cider (or perry), references in this subsection to the pre-fermentation mixture are to the pre-fermentation mixtures for each of those liquors taken as a whole,
(iii) the pre-fermentation mixture for the cider (or perry) satisfies the pre- fermentation juice requirement if the volume of apple or pear juice of a gravity(a) of at least 1033 degrees included in the mixture is a volume not less than 35 per cent of the volume of the pre-fermentation mixture,
(iv) the cider (or perry) satisfies the final product juice requirement if the aggregate of the volume of apple or pear juice of a gravity of at least 1033 degrees included in the pre-fermentation mixture and the volume of any such apple or pear juice added after fermentation commences is a volume not less than 35 per cent of the volume of the cider (or perry), and
(v) the volume of any juice, the pre-fermentation mixture and the cider (or perry) is to be computed as at 20°C.”.
I don’t really care whether the exact interpretation of this means that Industrial cider makers can get away with making cider at only 35% juice content, or maybe even quite a bit less than that. The very idea of condoning such low juice industrial concoctions as genuine cider and perry for the purposes of profiting from the considerable tax advantages compared with other acoholic drinks is to be condemned.
Accepting the definition of cider with only 35% juice content can only be a setback for the real cider making movement, and anybody supporting it is deliberately conniving with big industrial cider makers to continue to deceive cider drinkers into believing the big brand ciders advertising lies.
About seven years ago, there was a prolonged and open discussion in the craft cider community to arrive at a definition of real cider which came out with the following:
Real cider is the product of fermenting fresh apple juice.
The amount of apple juice which went into the final product must be between 85 and 100% and should be clearly stated on the container it is sold in or dispensed from.
No artificial sweeteners, flavourings or colourings are permitted.
( For real perry substitute pear juice ) ukcider 30/11/2003
The new government definition of cider at 35% juice for tax purposes will permanently legitimise the practice of creating low quality, low juice drink concoctions in which most of the alcohol is derived from corn syrup, and then selling it with the image of unsullied natural orchard scenes.
The big question many real cider makers and drinkers will be asking is why is this legislation being supported by the NACM and their apologists within the craft cider movement?
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