Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
The Herefordshire-based cider company’s head of export, Peter Baldwin said that according to Mintel data (December 2011), 47% of people drink cider, while 46% drink lager.
On the rise of the category Baldwin said: “I think the cider category will continue on a steady incline. There are many factors contributing to this, such as the fact that cider has become less and less gender specific.
“The cider category is occupied by so many different styles, which is fundamental in appealing to both genders, as it enables consumers to experiment within the category for the first time.”
The fruit and pear cider segment of the market is driving growth with 22% increases last year, according to recent data by AC Nielsen (Scantrak Dec 2011).
Baldwin added: “We have taken note of this and subsequently a limited edition Westons Twist Raspberry will be rolled out into market this spring.
“I think that as this sector further evolves, pear cider drinkers will start to look to explore the more traditionally made, authentic perries on offer.”
Asked whether the advent of big-brand ciders, such as Stella Artois’ Cidre, was good for the category Baldwin said: “Big-brand ciders are definitely a force for good, especially for the more crafted producers such as Westons.
“Big-brand ciders are great for driving awareness and bringing new consumers into the cider category. As consumers are becoming more knowledgeable, they are starting to leave behind the point-of-entry, mainstream brands to seek more premium ‘discovery’ brands.”
Westons sells 93% of its cider in the UK but exports to 30 other markets including Finland, Australia and Germany.