First published on 18 Apr 2012. Updated on 6 Dec 2012.
What was your first cider experience?
Our old man lived in the UK and that’s where we discovered real cider made with real apples. Compared with the mass-produced sugary sweet options in Australia at the time, it was a completely different drinking experience to anything back home in Oz. Then, a few summers back we were sitting on the infamous Bondi grassy knoll having an imported cider when it struck us: Why are we all drinking cider that is foreign owned or imported by brands we can’t connect with? Especially when we have access to the best quality locally grown produce? This triggered the dream of starting a wholly Australian cider using locally grown apples.
Batlow apples… weren’t they the stickers on our school lunchboxes and lockers?
They sure are. Batlow Apples are a household name and the brand is truly iconic, going back to 1922 and still 100% owned by about 35 apple-growing families. We met with Batlow at Sydney Markets to share our cider vision – to create a premium quality cider made with the best local apples using the best cider-making practices. Cider happened to be in Batlow’s long-term plans, so it was perfect timing.
How did Sam’s MTV experience inspire your cool viral marketing campaign?
Contacts from MTV helped in sourcing music for the clip. We ended up securing tracks from local artists The Beautiful Girls, Delta Riggs & Killaqueenz and pulled in favours on the props and production side. With start-ups, people are generally keen to help out any way they can.
What qualities set Batlow Cider apart from the crowd?
Apart from being local and independently owned our cider is a very pure and actually has the freshness of a crunchy Batlow Apple. The flavour is a complex and earthy mix of green and red apples. It’s crisp, clean and has just the right amount of sweetness. We only press apples as we make our cider, which ensures we retain as much of the natural aromas and flavours of the Batlow Apples as possible. We don’t add any sugar, concentrates or flavourings like other ciders on the market, and it’s also gluten free.
What Sydney bars and restaurants are using the Batlow brand particularly well?
To name a few, The Cottage in Balmain have planted a mature Batlow Apple tree in the front courtyard and offer Batlow fresh out of the keg in a nice farmhouse style setting. Bondi Hardware are serving up our cider in a variety of formats (including on tap, in a spiced rum-based cocktail and a spiced mulled cider). The Local Bar in Neutral Bay rotate several Batlow-based cocktails every week. The East Village in Darlinghurst does a great pint on tap matched with suckling pig. The Passage in Darlinghurst pairs Sliders & Ciders every Wednesday. Moonshine Rum & Cider Bar in Manly is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon schooner on tap looking across the ocean.
What are the biggest revolutions in the cider business these past few years?
The growth of cider has been incredible, but the emergence and popularity of locally-produced premium quality craft ciders in the last five years is the major development. In the UK, the cider category was re-invigorated by an increase in marketing activities by the big brands, and that’s had a positive knock-on effect into Australia. People today want more from their drinking and dining experiences and they’re looking for alternatives to their regular beer or wine choices. Cider is a very versatile option – it matches lots of foods and tastes great anytime, anywhere.