Hay-on-Wye’s natural cidermakers, Tom Tibbits and Lydia Crimp of Artistraw cider have been awarded silver in the nationwide competition run by Devon’s Sandford Orchards.

The competition which is now in its third year aims to recognise and celebrate excellent quality whole juice ciders from around the UK. Judges this year included Herefordshire’s Tom Oliver and the Ciderologist Gabe Cook.

Of the cider that Tom and Lydia entered, Andy May, competition judge and Sandford Orchard’s principal cider maker said: “On the palette this cider had everything. Rich apple fruit, bright acidity, mouth puckering astringency and a wonderful texture.

“It is very well fermented with no off notes and technically a hard drink to make and package given their natural cider ethos. All of the judges really enjoyed this drink and were very impressed with the blending skill on display. It was my personal favourite of the day. ”

To try some of their award-winning ciders, you’ll find Tom and Lydia selling cider every Thursday between 9am-2pm at the Farmers Market in Hay-On-Wye.

They also offer tours and tastings at their cidery and orchard on a Wednesday and Saturday as well as having an onsite bottle shop.

Lydia Crimp of Artistraw Cider and co-founder of the group Cider Women said: “We’re delighted to have been recognised for the quality and skill involved in making our natural ciders by such an esteemed lineup of judges. We hope that this award will shine a light on how much well made natural cider has to offer and how bright the future is for the industry as a whole. ”

To make their cider Tom and Lydia use fruit exclusively handpicked from old, and often unused, unsprayed traditional standard orchards as close to Hay-On-Wye as possible. By bringing the orchards back to life with a mixture of pruning, scything and low-intensity grazing as well as identifying any old varieties, which they graft, they hope to preserve them for the next generation of cider makers.

As such their own young orchard is full of interesting old varieties found in all sorts of places from hedgerows, overgrown orchards to single ancient apple trees in gardens.

Tom said: “We are delighted to receive this award from the Breakthrough Cider Maker of the Year panel.

“It makes such a difference to know that our efforts to promote real, high-quality drinks made with a genuine respect for our shared environment are reaching ever-wider audiences.

“We look forward to taking the next steps on our journey with the prestige that this award brings, along with the support offered to us by Barney and his team at Sandford Orchards.“