Five of the best - real ciders

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There’s the over-ice Magners type of cider-drinker, and then there’s the other kind. No, not White Lightning-swilling, park-bench dwellers, but those who appreciate real cider: the type made from pressed apple juice and absolutely nothing else. It’s the most eccentric and underrated of British beverages, it’s great with food, and it’s about to get bigger than ever (Stella Artois’ new over-ice Cidre is the latest trying to tap the market). So arm yourselves with our guide to the best artisan bottles: it’s all the (ahem) in-cider knowledge you’ll need.

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Henney’s Frome Valley Dry Cider

Mike Henney started making cider as a hobby, fermenting his first five gallons in an airing cupboard. Fast-forward 15 years and the scale might have changed but the content — still 100 per cent pressed apple juice — has not. His dry cider is decidedly fresh and fruity, with enough acidity to make your mouth water. Drink with smoked meats, salads and anything off the barbecue. £1.85 for 330ml, waitrose.com

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Biddenden Sparkling Cider

Better known for its English wines (it’s one of our oldest commercial vineyards), Biddenden is equally adept when it comes to cider. Its new Champagne-method variety (which is bottle-fermented and gently sparkling) really hits the mark. Serve chilled as a quintessentially English, appetite-sharpening seasonal aperitif. £10.90 for 750ml, biddendenvineyards.com

Burrow Hill Kingston Black dry cider

Julian Temperley, father of fashion designer Alice, makes exceptional cider brandy — Somerset’s answer to Calvados. But for summertime drinking, look to his Champagne-method cider, which is the best you can buy. Using single varietals — in this case Kingston Black apples — this bottle-fermented, flint-dry cider has brawn and bite in abundance. £8 for 750ml, ciderbrandy.co.uk

The Orchard Pig Dry Cider

Named for the Gloucester Old Spot pigs that grub round the farm’s apple trees, this lightly sparkling cider is aged for six months to deliver a real depth of flavour. Made near Glastonbury, The Pig has collected dozens of awards. It can now add Esquire to its list of admirers. £3.12 for 750ml, orchardpig.co.uk

Roger Wilkins Farm Cider

All bucolic stereotypes are made flesh in Roger Wilkins’ proper Somerset scrumpy, sold (literally) at the farm door. His bitter-sweet and bitter-sharp apples are pressed into barrels and fermented for several months to produce this excellent brew. Go for a mix of 75 per cent dry for an easy-drinking medium blend. It tastes vaguely agricultural, but that’s all part of the charm. £24 for 5ltr, ciderpunk.com

Dunkertons Organic Black Fox cider

For superstitious rural types, the black fox is a bad omen. For cider drinkers, however,it’s the hallmark of a particularly tasty, medium-dry sparkling variety. Hailing from Herefordshire’s apple country, Black Fox is a full-bodied, organic blend. Try it chilled with charcuterie, pork pie or mature cheddar. £3.25 for 500ml, harrods.com

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