A Dorset cider champion - Rupert Best
PUBLISHED: 14:39 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:02 09 November 2015
Rupert Best knows his onions. Or, more specifically: his apples, Portland and nuclear submarines.
This is a man who - as a deputy lieutenant of Dorset, the director of Portland Port and a former naval commander, to name but a few - wears many hats.
But apples are his passion. The 50-acre family farm in Melplash offers that rare blend: knowledge and beauty.
Established by Rupert’s grandfather, these award-winning apples have - since 1922 - made award-winning ciders.
Producing up to 950 tonnes per annum (or, more importantly, 140,000 gallons) Rupert - for years the master of the orchards and cider pavilion at the Royal Bath & West Show - believes in quantity and quality.
“Cider has, in the past, had a poor reputation,” he says. “If you drink rough cider, you’ll get a frightful hangover. And, of course, some ciders are hugely high in alcohol so you do get the drunkards.
“But good, proper cider is on a par with fine wine, to be drunk from a wine glass, with food. And I don’t mean a pasty.”
Rupert was - and sounds like - a naval officer for 28 years, a stickler who no doubt has a permanent crease even in his pyjama bottoms.
But this is no stuffed shirt; far from it. An old-school landowner, he is an instinctive champion of the plucky underdog, be it cider or Portland.
“I am passionate about Dorset,” he says, “and Portland has such tremendous potential for good. I’ve been lucky and I want to pass that on. I’ve had a lot of fun, out of everything, and I’ve never been busier.”
A 72-year-old man who can say that - and mean it - is a happy man indeed.
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