Willie Smith's Cider Makers pandemic pivot
In the midst of the global pandemic, Tasmania’s Willie Smith’s Cider Makers developed a plan to keep sharing their Huon Valley ciders with craft drinks lovers around Australia – a cider subscription service.
Willie Smith’s Cider Makers Co-Founder and Director, Sam Reid said “As lockdown kicked off, we were brainstorming about how to keep people connected to us – after a few full-on weeks, the idea for Cider Club was born.
“Twice a year Club members will receive the pick of our ciders, those really pushing the limits of what cider can be with their use of heirloom apples and different fermentation techniques, delivered straight from our farm to their door” he continued.
Each Spring and Autumn members will receive a mix of Club-exclusive and limited release ciders, along with the occasional bottle of Charles Oates Distilling apple spirits – also made on the farm by the Willie Smith’s team.
This Spring, only Club members will taste two ciders, never before made by the Willie Smith’s team; the 2019 Cool As Ice, made in the Canadian iced wine style and the 2020 Pét-Nat, one of Australia’s first ciders made the old way, in the pétillant nature style.
The 2020 Yarlington Mill, showcasing the great English bittersweet heritage apple of the same name, will round out the pack.
Willie Smith’s Head Cider Maker Thomas New said “The silver lining of COVID was getting the chance to get really creative in the cidery – that’s how the Pét Nat and iced cider were created.”
A former winemaker for Mac Forbes, Howard Park and Stefano Lubiana, Thomas joined Willie Smith’s in mid-2019, bringing an ethos of letting the apples, the orchard and the vintage conditions speak.
Launched earlier this month with a dinner by acclaimed chef Analiese Gregory at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, the Cider Club is off to a flying start.
“We’ve seen a fantastic response from around Australia, with people joining from all states, including sommeliers, winemakers and chefs – always a great endorsement. On top of that our online Club store is booming – one of the perks of being a member, aside from guaranteed access to our limited releases, is a 15% discount and free shipping!” said Mr Reid.
WILLIE SMITH’S CIDER CLUB
Twice yearly packs of 6 x 750ml exclusive and limited release ciders or the occasional apple spirit
Members also receive 15% off all Willie Smith’s cider and Charles Oates spirits online, free shipping, and invites to Cider Club dinners. Learn more at williesmiths.com.au/cider-club/