An apple cider a day…

Move over Tasmanian Wine here comes the Cider!

Tasmania seems to be having an explosion of cider makers and one cidery that is really branching out into the market is Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider made from freshly crushed organic apples in the Huon Valley. Willie Smiths Cidery is also the first purpose built certified organic cidery in Australia.

Iced Vovo popped down to the farm to find out more about this special brew from owner Andrew Smith:

Q: I read where your family has had the apple orchard going since 1888 what is behind the long standing fascination with apples?

A: I think it’s more a way of life rather than a fascination! Of course with apples having supported the family for four generations you are naturally going to develop a passion for your livelihood and for producing quality product or the business wouldn’t work.

Q: I also read that you’re a preferred supplier of organic apples to Woolworths – how hard was it to get your apples noticed and establish a link to the supermarket chain?

A: It took three years and a lot of hard work to finally get into Woolworths on board three years ago but this was always the plan when moving the orchard to organics 12 years ago. Since we have started supplying Woolworths we have always had a great relationship with them and they have been supportive of everything we have wanted to do and encouraged our growth as a business.

Q: When and why did you decide to move from just producing fresh organic apples to the organic apple cider?

A: We finally made the move 12 years ago but had decided to long before this. There were three main catalysts: 1) the desire to produce the best fruit we could, free from artificial pesticides and preservatives; 2) the constant pressure that conventional growers are under 3) spending two years in Europe and the US looking at leading edge farming practices.

Q: Was going organic part of your initial strategy when setting up the Cidery or did it stem from being an organic apple producer?

A: We have been an organic orchard for 12 years and had seen and heard about the growth of cider. Our expertise in this area was limited and so a chance meeting between Andrew and Sam a former Marketing Manager at Diageo (an international drinks company) kicked off the project.

Q: What did you know about the cider industry before you started – were you making your own home-brews first or did you start to learn all about it once you decided to move into that business?

A: We weren’t making our own brews however some of the workers on the farm have been making cider all of their lives! Mostly we were both beer drinkers who thought we could do something interesting in the cider category in the same way craft beer has evolved the beer category – so I guess we are a craft cider!

Q: What do you think being organic brings to the cider?

A: We feel that organic apples are the best apples, as our cider comprises 99.9% fresh organic apples it stands to reason that if you use the best apples you are going to have a better chance of producing a great product.

Q: What does maturing the cider in French Oak add to the processing and taste of the cider?

A: This gives it more flavour and character which many people perceive as a hint of ‘spiciness’.

Q: How many ciders do you currently have up for sale and are there any new ones in the pipeline?

A: We currently have only one cider – we are focussing on getting our core product right first before we branch out into anything else. That being said we are currently aging some cider in some of Bill Larks old whiskey barrels (Larks Distillery) and so we are expecting to have a limited edition in time for Easter!

Q: What do you think sets you apart from other cider sellers in the market at the moment?

A: There are a lot of things that set us apart, I guess the key ones would be:
1) our production process which is unique to the Australian Market,
2) the fact we are the first certified organic cidery in Australia producing at the farm using single orchard apples so we can point to exactly where the juice comes from
3) That we are backed up by four generations of apple farming history and heritage.

Q: Where are you currently stocked – in other words how can we get our hands on the cider!?

  • Hobart: 9/11 Gasworks & St Ives, Cool wines, Shoreline bottle shop, Mill on Morrison, Eumurah, A common Ground, Bruny Island Cheese, Retro Cafe, Lark Distillery, Saffire resort; and on tap at: T42, Grape & Red Velvet lounge
  • Launceston: Crown Cellars, Alps and Amici, Pizza Pub and on tap: Alchemy
  • Burnie: On tap: Bayview restaurant
  • Melbourne: Blackhearts & Sparrows – 5 stores

If you’re quite partial to a cider or two get along to one of the above outlets to try some Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider. It’s true blue Aussie and truly Tasmanian! Or if you’d like to find out more about Willie Smiths Cider follow the link to their website.

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