Cider. What’s it all about, then?

Well, to start with, it’s a very old drink. Very very old.

Nobody knows which country was the first to make cider, because of how widespread apple trees have always been.

Apple Trees…

There’s no chicken-and-egg conundrum here.

Apple trees have been around since the dinosaurs died out, which was 50-60 million years ago. (In those days, you couldn’t buy cider online, nor even plain old apple juice. Fancy that.)

For millennia, these trees grew and cross-pollinated. When primates and early humans would find an apple tree and take a bite from the fruit, they never knew what kind of flavour they were going to get: sweet, sour, downright bitter or what. 

It turns out that the most disgusting apple varieties to eat – i.e. those that taste incredibly bitter and tannic – are actually the best ones for cider, and are usually referred to as “spitters”!

An Apple… Is a Rose, Is a Rose, Is a Rose?

Here’s a Michael Caine moment, and not a lot of people know this:

The Latin name for apples is Malus domestica rosaceae, making it part of the rose family. Originally, apple trees grew wild in forests around Kazakhstan in Central Asia, where they can still be found today (Malus sieversii).

Cider During the Roman Empire

The Romans (who thought they knew it all) came to Britain in 55BC and found the locals drinking cider. 

Once the Romans tried it, they also thought it was pretty good, and soon it was being drunk all over the Roman Empire. 

The Origins of the Word Cider

Over the course of the next few centuries, the Germans got a taste for cider, and then the Normans – the latter of whom brought apple orchards to England in the 9th Century, and indeed the very word cider too – or cidre, as they called it.

Tracing it even further back, it does seem that the name’s origins could be much older than that: the 6th Century BC, to be more precise, from the Hebrew word shekhar, meaning “strong drink”.

Fermented Apple Juice

So, anyway, the Romans arrived and found us getting pissed on fermented apple juice, which we were grinding on big stone milling wheels. By sheer coincidence, this may also be the origin of the word cockeyed. Yes, really…

Apparently, to ensure that the two grinding wheels sat properly on top of each other, one of them had a lump in the middle (referred to as the “cock”), and the other had a hole (called the “eye”) – which worked together to ensure that both grinding wheels mated properly and rotated correctly.

When these were later used for milling grain to make flour, usually in a confined space, the miller had to keep a sharp eye on the stones so that they didn’t go off-kilter and create sparks – because, astonishingly, flour dust can explode.

Therefore the miller was “cockeyed”.

Buy Craft Cider Online

At Cockeyed, we use ancient methods to produce delicious contemporary ciders. Take a look at our online shop and place an order to get Devon’s finest craft cider delivered to your door.

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