It’s hardly surprising that 2015 saw Celtic Marches achieve their best ever sales figures. An excellent lead into the summer saw volumes steadily increase over July and August, in spite of the shortage of BBQ weather, and maintain buoyant levels right through to Christmas Eve, due in part to the successful launch of their Orange and Cinnamon Cider “Nell Gwynne” in September. “We can’t complain” say Susan Vaughan and Robert Hancocks. “The cider market has become more demanding in recent years as customers request a continual stream of new ideas and a more diverse range of flavours, something in which the craft beer market has led the way.” Celtic Marches now produce 7 Ciders and 1 Perry and 2015 saw them successfully introduce the range in kegs to build on established sales of BIBs and Glass.
They sit in their office at Wyer Croft Farm nestled amongst the rolling hills of Herefordshire, from where they can survey the 200 acres of cider apples that go into Thundering Molly and the other brands that make up the Celtic Marches range. The importance of the farm location is not lost on them. “Because of the local topography we have the ideal climate conditions here in the fertile Frome Valley, perfect for fruit production” they say “We are able to get a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness in our apples, and by carefully blending the varieties together we are able to offer a wide range of tastes” Susan adds that with her brother being a grower as well as a cider maker gives her a lot more control over the final product, something which is becoming more important as the demand for craft cider gains momentum. 2015 has seen a steady increase in the number of own label enquiries, something that being a grower/producer allows her to do.
“We have recently been awarded PGI (Protected Geographic Indicator) status, something that we are really proud of. Our customers will know that our ciders are made solely from apples grown in Herefordshire.” She says. “Our biggest seller is Thundering Molly, a fine well rounded medium cider with branding to evoke memories of country fair grounds and show girls” she adds. “In fact all of the ciders are based on girls names with character and personality to match their flavour. In a world where branding is king I think that we put together a range that hits the spot” says Susan. “But first and foremost we are cider makers and at the end of the day it’s what’s in the bottle that will determine success.”