Although we have recently recorded one of our lowest alcohol consumption’s in nearly 50 years, the drinking culture in Australia is present, and always has been. Beer, wine, spirits, whatever it is, we will drink it.
Over the past 5 years or so, the market has become complex. The arrival of ethical consumption, the fitness industry and the tightening of the economy has all contributed to a more specific alcohol market. Consumers are now demanding what they want and giving their say to companies. They want local product, they want a cheap product, and they want something that won’t ruin their health (ironic).
Apart from the wine industry, the deliverance of Australian made and locally produced products has been low. Much lower than say the marketing for cheaper products and those with less sugar or carbs. It seems either consumers don’t care where their drink comes from, or (in most cases) it is simply too expensive to opt for the locally made. Batlow Cider on the other hand, seems to tick all the boxes. 100% Australian made, 100% Australian owned, and affordable.
The brand is excellent on three distinguishable points:
It represents Australia. I really don’t think you can get a more Australian cider than what they have on offer. Combining the famous Batlow name, Australia’s best and well-known Apple brand and region, with any product is just genius. Batlow Apples have been around since 1922 and each apple is picked no further than 30km from the Batlow Post Office.
It represents quality. Every Batlow Apple is photographed 30 times to grade and detect blemishes and there are 3½ Batlow Apples in every Bottle of Batlow Cider.
It tastes damn good. The taste is excellent – all the Apple flavour you could want, with a refreshing crispness.
Rich & Sam (the founders of Batlow Cider) have produced a few different options including: Premium Apple Cider, Cloudy Apple Cider and OPA (Oaked pear and apple). Each product has a distinct flavour and can easily be matched to your preference of sweetness and dryness. Word has it the duo is also working on a mulled cider recipe for this winter. We spoke with Rich Coombes, co-founder of Batlow Cider to get a better insight into the company and how it came about.
Obviously the Batlow Apple is quite a famous Australian product, but where did the cider come from?
Batlow Cider was born in 2011 as a partnership between the famous Batlow Apples, which is actually a co-operative comprised primarily of family owned orchards, and us (Rich & Sam Coombes). We had spent a fair amount of time in the UK and realised there was an opportunity to create a great local cider brand back home, using the best available produce and cider-making practices.
Batlow Ciders are 100% independent and grower owned, crafted from 100% Batlow apples, and has no added sugar or concentrate. How did this natural approach come about and what are its benefits?
Batlow Apples are a household name in produce and as an apple growing region is considered one of the best in the country due to favourable climatic conditions (rainfall, rich volcanic & fertile soil, ideal growing temperatures etc).
Not so long ago it was really difficult to find a cider made locally from 100% locally grown fruit, most of the cider available was mass-produced with little consideration for the quality of the inputs. We wanted to produce a cider using a simple philosophy of minimal intervention and let the quality of the Batlow Apples we use do the talking so to speak.
How is Batlow Cider made?
We grow, hand pick & press our apples in Batlow. We use a blend of varieties mainly Pink Lady, Fuji, Red Delicious & Granny Smith to give the base juice a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. From there we transport the juice to a local winery where we turn it into cider through fermentation (cider is essentially apple wine from a production process perspective).
Each of our variants (Premium, Cloudy & OPA) has a unique aspect of its production, but we apply the same fermentation process across all three.
Which is your favourite Batlow cider and why?
My favourite is our Premium. It was our debut product and took the longest to get off the ground from scratch. A tonne of work & trial batches went into its eventual launch, so getting it off the ground felt very satisfying. It’s also the driest out of the three, which I personally prefer.
The attitude towards cider as a feminine drink (in comparison to the UK) has certainly shifted over the past few years and is now enjoyed by both genders. Why do you think this has happened?
Cider used to have a reputation as a mass-produced sugary sweet beverage and the companies producing these styles seemed to target women, whereas now you have a lot of diversity beyond sweeter styles.
The amount of blokes that tell us they’re now cider drinkers has dramatically increased the last few years. Beer has its place, but it seems a lot of people (men & women) have made cider an essential part of their drinking culture.
Where is the perfect setting for enjoying a Batlow Cider?
Anywhere in good company! Personally my ideal setting is after a day outdoors with a beautiful setting sun somewhere. Can’t beat sunset Batlow’s with a nice view.
Do you think the fact your cider is local, and Australian made is important? Does it give you an advantage over the rest of the market?
It’s definitely an important part of what we stand for. Every apple that goes into our cider has been handpicked in Batlow, so we know exactly what the content of each bottle is. We don’t add any flavours, concentrates, colours or even any water. It’s made from 100% fresh crushed locally grown fruit and no shortcuts are taken.
It’s not an advantage from a cost perspective but you can taste the difference in the final product, which is the most important thing. Local farmers and growers can do it tough sometimes so it’s nice that we can value add part of their crop into cider.
What can we expect in the future from you guys and Batlow Cider?
Keep making great quality product and achieve our goal of turning ‘Australia’s Favourite Apples’ into Australia’s Favourite Cider. Batlow Apples has been around since 1922 and we like to think Batlow Cider will also become an iconic Aussie brand some day.