Cider with a real historic link to Dorset could be coming as apple varieties dating back centuries are being grown in the county.

Nick Poole, who has been making cider for many years at West Milton cider company, was curious to find out what real Dorset cider used to taste like and perhaps rediscover some of the old apple varieties that were once popular in the county.

Nick and Liz Copas, a cider pomologist - the study of fruit - from the old Long Ashton Research Station, a government funded research centre to study and improve the West Country’s cider industry, had scoured the county and resurrected 22 old cider apple trees from farms and gardens. The apples were tested and a little of their cider was tasted before new young trees of each variety were planted in Linden Lea orchard at Melplash.

Nick said: “The young trees have had their DNA sequenced as part of a registration scheme for local apple and pear varieties and have proved to be unique when compared with all known apple varieties.

“Further DNA work has revealed that some of our Dorset finds have ancient lineage that links them to the earliest cider apples that were ever grown in this country, perhaps even related to those that the French monks brought over at the time of the Norman conquest.

“This is exciting news for Dorset’s cider makers who can now boast that their cider not only tastes good and authentic but has a history.”

Last autumn, the trees all had their first big crop and produced enough apples each to make a single variety cider.

A select band of Dorset’s young craft cider makers came together - socially distanced - to taste the cider to judge their worth and all agreed that as single varieties, they all held their own and if they were to be blended, could stand with the best of traditional cider apples from other parts of the West Country.

Nick and Liz believe that all their work of the 13 years will really benefit Dorset’s cider industry.

Nick added: “To achieve the greatest advantage, Dorset needs to see a major planting of these old varieties in new orchards and to see them being taken on by the next generation cider makers who will be able to claim their ciders are produced from genuine, unique Dorset cider apples.”