A new tax on cider, or more properly, the end of a tax exemption for small cider producers is currently being demanded by the European Union, at the same time as a PDO designation for Welsh cider is being proposed.
It is predicted that the end of the exemption will have a detrimental effect on craft cider and the diversity of the drink. Welsh cider, in particular, is not associated with any big producers, and many producers are deliberately small. Advocates of the tax argue that no other alcohol is granted a tax exemption in the EU and they say that many craft cider producers are not linked to the production of apples, in other words cider production, far from being a rustic farmyard activity has become gentrified and no longer warrants special status.
My research has shown so far that cider-making has always contained a tension between rough- and-ready farmyard brews and the high craft which was associated with gentlemen farmers and the landed gentry who became influential in the development of large-scale cider production. In that sense, the gentrification of cider is part of the story of its development as an industrially produced drink.
The issue of a tax exemption for cider is likely to be a thorny one and we are well-placed to follow the debate as we untangle notions of what it means to craft cider in contemporary Wales.