Willie Smith's cider crowned best of best

Limited edition 18 Varieties claims Cider Australia glory.

IMG_7624A special edition cider using 18 different cider apple varieties sourced from across Tasmania’s Huon Valley has scooped the pool at this year’s Australian Cider Awards.

Willie Smith’s Organic Cider has at its core the ambition of restoring Tasmania to its former glory as the Apple Isle.

On Friday night Willie Smith’s took another step towards that goal, honoured in front of almost 100 people at the national awards gala dinner, with its Willie Smith’s 18 Varieties limited edition taking out the Best in Show award.

Willie Smith’s 18 Varieties also won another two trophies – Best Cider and Best Australian Cider or Perry.

Willie Smith’s co-owner Sam Reid said the prestigious award was a great reward for the entire crew at the Huon Valley business, which is located on a fourth-generation organic apple farm.

“We couldn’t be happier with this product because it showcases what is great about Willie Smith’s – we are small enough to make really interesting cider but large enough to get it out to enough people to start to educate and influence the category.”

Judges said the product was very true to type – a medium cider in the traditional style – describing it as “lifted … with a lingering fruit flavour and an attractive bitterness on finish”.

The Huon Valley business is renowned for pushing the envelope with its cider production, having received rave reviews for previous offerings including cider matured in whiskey and port barrels.

The new 18 Varieties is the first cider made completely of cider apples.

Apple varieties being used in the rich and complex offering were grown on the historic Smith family farm at Grove, as well as surrounding orchards.

They include:

  • Sommerset Red Streak
  • Cimitiere de Blangy
  • Cremiere
  • Antoinette
  • Frequin Rouge Amer
  • Yates
  • Dabinett
  • French Crab
  • Yarlington Mill
  • Kingston Black
  • Sweet Alford
  • Browns Apple
  • Improved Foxwhelp
  • Clossette
  • Martin Fossard
  • Grosielle
  • Michilin
  • De Bouteville

Willie Smith’s chief cider maker, Dr Tim Jones, says 18 Varieties is its best product yet and the team is excited about how it will be received by the general public when it is released in the near future.

“This is why I joined Willie Smith’s – to make amazing cider in the more traditional way,” Dr Jones said.

“I couldn’t be happier with this product and I think this is the start of the next phase of development in the category.”

Dr Jones explains that Willie Smith’s 18 Varieties limited release is the result of the establishment of purpose grown orchards consisting of French and English cider apple varieties, combined with the development of cider making techniques based on traditional cider making methods.

“It is made from pure fresh apple juice and exhibits a deep golden colour,” Dr Jones said.

“It is a medium sweet cider that balances fruit sweetness with drying well-structured tannin. It displays complex apple flavours and lifted fruit aromas with subtle caramel notes.

“Our focus with this cider has been to showcase the characteristic complex flavours and deep aromas of these varieties and to capture the naturally derived golden colour that results from oxidative maceration of high tannin apples.’’

18 Varieties will be available in limited quantities from leading independent bottle shops – 750ml for $40 (5.8% ABV)

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