Time for the apple to bite back…

comfort me with apples by monkeyc.net

comfort me with apples by monkeyc.net

Amongst all the pre-election political ranting, posturing and point-scoring, an argument from Theresa May stood out today. Yes, social cohesion, the financial problems faced by the country and the so-called war on terror are all big issues but May claimed on Radio 4 that binge drinking and anti-social behaviour can be reduced by targeting what she referred to as high strength ciders. Now, as I’m partial to the occasional glass of appley nectar, typically a fine cider such as Aspall’s, Westons Vintage or one of the Thatchers varieties, all of which clock in at over 7% alcohol, I take issue with this in a big way.

May has completely missed the point and obviously wouldn’t know a Katy from a Frosty Jack. Binge drinkers and drunk teenagers are unlikely to have been anywhere near any cider, high strength or otherwise. They will have undoubtedly been drinking the noxious fluid marketed as ‘white cider’ something which is only nominally related to cider. Cider and scrumpy are made from apples, pressed and fermented to form a wholesome beverage, one of your five-a-day. Added ingredients may include the odd bit of straw or a wasp if drinking some of the rougher scrumpy’s but that’s about it. White cider is at best chemically concocted from apple waste products mixed with alcohol produced from sugar; at worst it has never been anywhere near an apple with the flavour coming from artificial flavourings. I would go into more detail but there is an excellent article by James Crowden which sums it all up quite eloquently.

If politicians are in anyway serious about tackling drink related problems and want to do this by reducing access to high strength alcoholic drinks though increased taxes, a good place to start would be with these incredibly cheap yet potent white cider drinks commonly referred to as cider: Leave proper, natural ciders alone. An argument for some kind of trading standards definition of cider could help with this so that Diamond White, Frosty Jack’s and their ilk cannot be sold as cider; they could be called apple flavoured loopy juice or whatever, I really don’t care as long as it is clear that they are not cider. It’s easy enough to tell proper cider from imposters by the amount of apple juice used, which should ideally be properly pressed and not cheap imported concentrate; by all means crank up the tax on such rubbish if you feel that will help solve anti-social behaviour. Decent cider is already expensive whereas these imposters retail almost as cheap as bottled water, being cheap to produce via industrial chemical processes.

So, politicians, if you want my vote, get to the bottom of issues and ensure you understand them before making cheap political points. But more importantly, hands off my cider!