TAUNTON Cider and Natch are back.

The natural dry drink is being made in the county town for the first time since the former Taunton Cider company left Norton Fitzwarren in the late 1990s.

A new Taunton Cider Company set up by Jonathan Dunne is producing Somerset's favourite tipple at premises in Cutliffe Farm, Sherford.

And Natch is being launched onto the market this month.

The first bottles of the re-born company rolled off the cider press in November 2016.

The cider is going down well locally, as you'd expect, but it's also proved a big hit overseas, with regular orders from the USA, Switzerland, Holland, Singapore and Sweden.

And Australia, New Zealand and Canada are soon to join the export list.

At home, next day deliveries can be made anywhere in the country, while Taunton Cider is stocked by Morrisons and Majestic and served in a number of local pubs.

Mr Dunne is keen to support the local economy, employing three people from the area at Cutliffe Farm, with another five likely to be taken on by next summer, and sales and admin staff in offices in The Crescent.

He said: "We buy all traditional cider apples from local farmers.

"We harvest, press, ferment and make our cider all in Taunton."

Around 800,000 litres of cider are sold each year and the company has won 30 product awards in the last three years.

"The Taunton Cider brand is strong," said Mr Dunne.

"We make a premium cider. It's very good because we make it in a traditional way with no additional concentrates. It's a really natural product.

"We trust it and it's nicer than industrially made cider because we use fresh apple juice.

"It's high quality and there's a growing market, with sales up on last year."

Taunton Cider, which sponsors the town rugby club, has plans to buy a local orchard and is soon going to distil apple cider brandy, apple spiced rum and apple vodka.

Apples are pressed on site, stored in one of the ten tanks, each with a 30,000-litre capacity, where they ferment naturally before being packaged in kegs and bottles ready to go out to customers.

"We've had an amazing reaction from customers," said Mr Dunne.

"Once people try it they tend to stay on it.

"We try to do it properly. We make proper cider from real Somerset apples.

"Somerset is the best place in the world to grow cider apples.

"We have the best cider in the world and the best producers.

"We're making a proper cider from Somerset and building our business."