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HMRC internal manual

Cider Guidance

Cider production: making process: stages of process

The basic cider making process consists of the following stages:

  • apples are milled together to crush them into a pulp
  • the pulp is pressed to extract the juice
  • the juice is placed in a fermenting vessel together with yeast (if required) and yeast nutrients. The yeast helps to turn the natural sugar in the juice into alcohol
  • the resultant liquid is left to ferment. This time will vary according to the maker’s recipe
  • when fermentation is complete, sediment will have settled to the bottom of the vessel and the cider can be ‘racked off’ (drawn off)
  • the racked cider may be clarified by centrifuging or fining before or after a period of maturation
  • the matured cider can be blended with other ciders and permitted colourings and flavourings to make the finished product
  • the cider is normally stored in bulk awaiting bottling or packaging
  • before packaging, the cider may be filtered and carbonated.

The duty rates for cider are structured in bands depending on its strength and whether it is sparkling or not. To be eligible for the cider duty rates, the cider must:

  • contain no added colourings or flavourings except those which have been approved by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • contain no added alcoholic liquor
  • have an alcohol content less than 8.5% abv at the time of delivery to home use.

If these conditions are not complied with, the product is classified as ‘made-wine’ and may attract a rate of duty higher than that of cider.

The duty bands and a list of permitted ingredients in the making of cider can be found in sections 5 and 25 of Notice 162 (GOV.UK). Current duty rates are published on the HMRC website.