Where it all began: HMS Monkey

Phil is Head Keeper at the Monkey House. His 30 years’ experience in brewing and distilling include launching what’s now one of Scotland’s premier cider houses. But it all began on a farm near Yeovilton, Somerset, where Phil was stationed with the Fleet Air Arm in the 1980s. He and three shipmates shared a house on the farm, exchanging part-time labour for free rent and cider. No doubt the latter explains why their house became known locally as HMS Monkey, or the Monkey House. From the locals, Phil learned traditional cidermaking techniques – including fermenting in open-top oak vats using only the natural yeasts from the apples, with a leg of mutton hung inside the vat to encourage fermentation. Rest assured, this is one tradition we’re in no hurry to revive. 

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