Scrumpy is a term for certain types of cider originating in the West of England, particularly Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Traditionally, the dialect term "scrumpy" was used to refer to what was otherwise called "rough", a harsh cider made from unselected apples.
Various origins of the name have been proposed. The Oxford English Dictionary, which finds the term first used in 1904, derives it from the noun scrump, meaning something withered or dried up, specifically apples. Other claimed derivations include a noun scrimp with the same meaning, derived from a verb scrump, meaning to steal fruit. Neither of these meanings is attested in the Oxford English Dictionary, and the English Dialect Dictionary confirms the existence of a word "scrump" applied to "anything small or undersized", particularly apples, and notes a related word "scrumpling" for a small apple. It can be applied to basic home made ciders as well as to commercially produced and marketed varieties.
In 1997 a legal case on trademark law was fought in Ireland between Symonds and Showerings (Ireland), in which the defendant successfully argued that "scrumpy" was a part of the "commonage" of the language, being a generic term referring to rough dry farmhouse cider.
Traditional "rough" was inevitably fermented out to absolute dryness, with a strong, full bodied character but no distinguishable apple flavour: in 19th century Devon "rough" was much preferred for home consumption, while sweeter, less alcoholic cider was produced for an 'export' market outside the county. "Rough" was known as the customary drink of farm labourers in the west of England, who would generally receive up to a quart daily as an incentive on top of their wages.
Modern scrumpy can be dry or sweet, and is usually still rather than carbonated, but may have some degree of carbonation. However, it tends to be stronger in alcohol and more tannic than most commercial ciders. Due to its traditional methods of production, it is usually very pulpy, and resultantly often cloudy in appearance.
It is produced by pulping and pressing a quantity of apples, and then adding the juice to a vessel with a special lid to ensure the pressure does not rise too much. It may be necessary to add a Campden tablet to prevent undesirable bacterial action, and the vessel must be sanitized. The vessels are sealed and left to ferment for a few months.
In popular culture
Scrumpy was often featured in the songs of The Wurzels, a folk/comedy/country group from South West England, especially in the song "I Am A Cider Drinker", and the song "Drink up ye Zider". Scrumpy is also referred to in several folk punk songs, such as The Dreadnoughts' "West Country Man", The Skimmity Hitchers "Get Scrumpy", Surfin Turnips "One More Drink", and Barren Waves "Laila's Addicted to Scrumpy".
In the final episode of the first series of I'm Alan Partridge, Michael drinks from a large bottle of scrumpy at a party in Alan's room.
In the computer game Team Fortress 2, the Scottish Mercenary 'the Demoman', who is an alcoholic, carries a bottle of scrumpy as a melee weapon, which he also drinks from.
In the Discworld series, Nanny Ogg makes scumble, a potent liquor based on scrumpy. The beverage is mentioned throughout the Discworld universe.
In the Xbox video game Fable, the hero is sent on a quest to Orchard Farm to save a farmer who is making scrumpy.
As well as scrumpy made with apples, there also exists pear scrumpy, similar to perry. Scrumpy and Western describes a kind of music from the West Country, where scrumpy is traditionally produced, typified by The Wurzels.
A bottle of 6.0% Abv, organic scrumpy from the USA.
A bottle of commercially produced scrumpy from Cornwall.
A gallon of Parson's Choice Somerset scrumpy.
- Soanes, Catherine (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861057-2.
- Leeds, W. Herefordshire Speech: The South-West Midlands Dialect As Spoken in Herefordshire and Its Environs, 1985, p.95
- Campaign for Real Ale (15 April 2009). Cider. CAMRA Books. ISBN 1852492597.
- "Scrumpy". h2g2. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Scrump". Reverso. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Wright (ed)English Dialect Dictionary, 1961, p.291
- Byrne (ed). Annual Review of Irish Law 1997, p.774
- Shapter, The Climate of the South of Devon, 1842, pp.223-4
- "Scrumpy". World Brands Australia. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Scrumpy/ Rough/ Real Cider". angelfire.com. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Hard Cider Scrumpy – How to make cider". Home Brewing Caps. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Paul Gunningham's Own Scrumpy". Somersetmade Ltd. Retrieved 4 December 2013.