BY JULIE BAXTER
Craft cider is enjoying a considerable revival in the beverage world. We ask David Sheppy, whose company has been making cider for 200 years, to share its secrets
The craft cider sector is growing and constantly evolving as it responds to ever-changing consumer tastes. Shoppers are currently re-discovering and connecting with smaller, artisanal brands and steering towards products that have provenance and heritage; products that are made using fewer ingredients and using traditional methods.
David Sheppy, of Sheppy’s Cider, says: “Taking products back to their roots gives drinkers a taste of the ‘real’ thing and in developing our ranges, Sheppy’s Cider always remain true to the core ingredient, the apple – which in my opinion is what cider is all about!
“It is important to react and innovate in response to market trends too and the versatility of the apple gives brands free reign when it comes to innovation.”
The versatility of the fruit allows producers to create ciders with a wide range of flavours that react to different taste buds, he says. “From sweet and fruity, light and fresh to rich and mellow, and bitter-sweet, the apple range opens craft cider to a whole new audience.”
Fruit and flavoured ciders are now introducing new drinkers to cider. They particularly appeal to those who may not necessarily opt for cider in the first instance. Having tried them, they may then be more inclined to try more traditional varieties as their tastes evolve, and that in turn keeps the category growing. This, along with the increasing number of beer brands producing cider, is opening up an even larger product range for consumers.
Sheppy says: “Still ciders, cloudy ciders and cider with added botanicals are all new ways of innovating with cider. Cloudy cider appeals to consumers as it gives the perception of authenticity – which is exactly what drinkers are looking for in a cider.
“There is also plenty of innovation in terms of packaging. We have seen the return to the 330ml can and also produced a 330ml bottle, the perfect onboard sizes.”
Cider has also evolved into a drink that can be enjoyed all year round thanks to its versatility. It can be served hot as a mulled cider or cold with a wealth of flavour options including; elderflower, blackberry and elderflower, cider with raspberry, and cloudy cider.
Sheppy concludes: “These new innovations in the cider category have aided global growth but as heritage and authenticity still remain key to cider drinkers, the UK – home of traditional craft cider – still seems to be where it is loved most!”