A new cider from Tasmanian producer Willie Smith’s is likely to be the widest distributed Australian cider made using cider apples.
Willie Smith’s Traditional is the company’s first cider apple product to be available to the trade in considerable volume, building on its short release products made using exclusively the heritage varieties.
“Tim Jones [head cider maker] and I have been wanting to take cider apples to the mainstream market and make people understand what they are and create a stepping stone into cider apples,” Willie Smith’s co-founder Sam Reid told Brews News.
“Willie Smith’s Traditional is one third cider apples and two thirds conventional eating apples. What it allows us to do, is actually create a flavour profile we want by using a blend of French and British cider apples to get the right balance and tannin structure in the cider.
“We’ve probably been playing around with about 20 different varieties, but we’ve got the right balance we think to create the flavour profile we think would be right for the Australian market.
“It’s pleasing that we could finally get enough cider apples that we figure it’s worth bottling and putting in kegs to venues around Australia, so we’re super pumped to be doing this and stepping up what people know to be cider,” he said.
Reid said overwhelming feedback from drinkers at the recent Mid-Winter Festival had given Willie Smith’s the confidence to release the product in bottles as well as kegs.
“It sold as much at the Mid-Winter Festival as [the flagship] Organic,” he said.
He said Willie Smith’s continues to graft and plant more cider apples ever year, which he believes is crucial to the development of the craft cider category in Australia.
“There are some growers in the Huon Valley who have got some trees that they’re not really utilising and they’re prime for converting to cider apples for us,” he said.
“They’re excited to be part of this project, because it is really going to reinvigorate the apple industry and mean that Australian cider can be seen as world class.”
Willie Smith’s Traditional will be available on tap in 30 venues in August and September, with 750ml bottles available in selected retailers across the country.
“This cider uses a blend of table and traditional heirloom cider apples which expresses a lifted fresh apple aroma in combination with deep honeyed toffee notes and is complex and textural,” Willie Smith’s says.
“The front palate is rich and smooth and gives way to a drying grippy finish, making it a full bodied medium style that can be enjoyed by the pint at the bar.”