THE Best Drinks Producer entries celebrates just that - all drinks aside from cider/beers/ales and lager.

Entries must be made by produce grown in the county and be bottled in Herefordshire or neighbouring counties.

The three finalists are: Black Mountain Botanicals, British Cassis and Pixley Berries.

Black Mountains Botanicals is made at The Bridge Inn in Michaelchurch Escley.

Landlord Glyn Bufton said: "Having run the Bridge Inn Michaelchurch for the previous seven years, creating a welcoming destination for customers and local employment we have tried to employ as many local staff as possible and with many challenges we have managed not open to keep the pub open but to provide food locals and tourists seven nights a week.

"To help keep the pub viable with the massive business rates increases we have had to diversify and with gin being such a passion of ours it seemed logical to create new unique gin.

"We have been working on the recipe for over two years and having passionate chefs and foodie customers in our pub to help us critique flavour and give direct feedback has been huge and rewarding advantage.

"Hill Billy gin is sold in 'old fashioned style' stoneware bottles - typical that one might expect of an old fashioned rustic Herefordshire cider."

They use natural mineral water and a slow maceration to help extract the notes they want from the 12 botanicals that they use to make their gin. They also use Herefordshire apples to soften the process and create delicate floral gin with punchy juniper notes.

British Cassis is made at Whittern Farms in Lyonshall.

Lucy Hill from British Cassis said: "Jo Hilditch's family have lived and farmed at Whittern Farms on the Herefordshire Welsh borders for four generations.

"Respecting the land and the heritage of the farm, British Cassis should win this award because this provenance, sustainability and passion is at the heart of everything they do."

British Cassis has been produced at the Whittern (White Heron) for 12 years from their own blackcurrants and is a great tasting, blackcurrant liqueur.

Their Cassis is 15% ABV (on trend with lower alcohol liqueurs) and uses only half the sugar content of the French Creme de Cassis.

British Cassis is made solely from blackcurrants grown on their farm at Lyonshall making each bottle traceable to a field on the farm - this year Two Mile Gate.

Apart from the blackcurrants they use British sugar to sweeten, but there is no other ingredient apart from the yeast and a small amount of British vodka to fortify.

British Cassis can be purchased nationally from Waitrose, Laithwaites Wine, Majestic and a huge number of farm shops, delis, garden centres, wine merchants and speciality stores. It can be purchased locally from every deli and wine store in the area.

Pixley Berries in Ledbury make cordial from natural fruit, gently press on their farm in Pixley.

They focus on the taste, flavour, aroma and colour derived from the famous blackcurrant. To the juice they add sugar and water.

The company said: "We don't concentrate the juice to ensure the quality we capture is at its optimum and to give a real fresh, fruity, natural juice, unlike other blackcurrant based products.

"Made with lashings of natural fruit, the cordial is very versatile. Great for all the family, with still or sparkling water. Perfect as a mixer, or trickled over ice cream, in cocktails, hot toddies or indulgent desserts."

They try to be as kind to nature as possible and are increasingly conscious of the need to grow plants which reduce the need for direct control of pests and diseases and require only judicious use of fertiliser.

They pick the blackcurrants in the field with a mechanical harvester, the fruit is transported to their press in 300kg to 400kg dolav bins. They then gently crush the fruit to make their distinctive juice using their specially selected variety.

It is then transported to Rich Clive, at Clives fruit farm in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire before it is blended with the water and sugar and then it is bottled.