history

It seems obvious in retrospect – how could somewhere nicknamed the Apple Isle not be amazing at making cider? But it actually took Tasmania over 100 years to become renowned for fermenting its fruit.

Discover how Tasmania became the Apple Isle.

The first apple trees in Tasmania were planted on Bruny Island by Captain Bligh in the 1700s, making them some of the state’s earliest introduced crops. Back then, apples were more a source of survival and warding off disease rather than a luxury to ferment into alcohol.

In the 19th century, Tasmania’s population grew, with more it, people began growing apple trees. The Huon became the apple of the industry’s eye, with the region’s climate perfectly suited to massive apple orchards. As well as supplying the Australian market, growers began exporting to the rest of the world – with Europeans in particular hungering for the Apple Isle’s pure produce.

With so many apples being grown, it was inevitable that some of them managed to find their way into cider for private consumption. Enjoying a batch of strong scrumpy cider from unused apples became a great way to unwind after a hard day in the orchards.

In 1912, Tasmanian cider went bigger. Cascade, already famous for their beer, started brewing cider as well. Their Mercury Cider became a famous name all over Australia, and the humble drop is Tasmania’s oldest surviving cider.

The state’s apple production kept increasing, reaching its peak in 1964, when 8.9 million boxes of fine and fresh apples were produced. But due to the loss of tariffs and tax exemptions, the industry began to struggle. Orchards pulled up trees and growers left the industry. By the late 70s, Tasmania was still producing plenty of apples, but nowhere near what it used to.

In the 21st century, the industry has recovered, thanks in no small part to the booming popularity in cider. Whether traditional drops made from honest-to-goodness cider apples, or sweeter, bubblier new varieties that draw from Tasmania’s existing dessert and culinary apples, this unique bunch of ciders is made with passion, love and natural ingredients.

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The Tasmanian Cider Trail © 2014