Future of favourite West Country tipple saved thanks to four-year campaign from region’s MEP - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Future of favourite West Country tipple saved thanks to four-year campaign from region’s MEP

Tuesday, 20 September 2011
The future of Cider Brandy, a favourite regional tipple, looks rosier today after a four-year campaign championed by one of the regions MEPs to correct an “gross oversight and ineptitude on the part of the previous British Government” that would have seen it excluded from products granted EU protected status ended in success.

Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson joined forces with local Cider Brandy producer Julian Temperley to secure protected geographical indication (PGI) status for the local speciality whose recipe will now be protected from “lesser imitations”. Other West Country products such as the Cornish Pasty, Exmoor Blue Cheese and Gloucestershire Perry already enjoy this protected status.

Commenting after the confirmation of PGI status, Sir Graham said: “This is excellent news. Today we learn that all 27 member states are supporting PGI status for Cider Brandy.”

“European PGI status protects a fine West Country tipple from lesser imitations,” he said. “It ensures that a centuries-old recipe can rightly be sold as cider brandy, both here and across the world. It is fantastic that it will now have the same legal protection as other drinks such as Champagne”.

The situation arose when despite written records of Somerset Cider Brandy dating back to 1678, the tipple was removed from a European Commission order in 2007 that defined which products could be described as brandy. After much lobbying, the European Commission reversed its decision and proposed that Cider Brandy be a recognised name. However, national government ministers in a meeting of the Council of Ministers disagreed and dropped this proposal meaning the use of the name by West Country producers was placed under threat.

Brandy is typically made by distilling wine which has grapes as its raw ingredient; but cider brandy is made by distilling cider which obviously instead has apples as its raw ingredient.

Another of our regions culinary treasures protected – that’s certainly good news we can all raise a glass to.

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