For nearly 300 years, Aspall Cyder has been producing hard apple cider at its famous Aspall Cyder House in Suffolk, England. Now the legendary facility has undergone a $16 million (£13 million) modernization project to make it more efficient and to increase production.
The three-year project by parent company Molson Coors Beverage Company, which acquired Aspall in 2018, will increase production by nearly 60% to about 70 million pints of cider annually.
The primary driver: keeping up with booming demand for super-premium hard cider in the U.K., where the segment is now comparable in size to premium hard apple cider in the off-trade, with 15% share of total cider sales in major supermarkets, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended January 29.
“Aspall is one of Suffolk’s best-loved exports and one of Britain’s most distinctive cider brands. So, a fundamental commitment when we took ownership of the brand was to strengthen — and never detract from — its rich heritage,” says Phil Whitehead, Molson Coors’ managing director for Western Europe.
The brand’s range of ciders have “been produced at the same site for nearly three hundred years, and our investment in the Cyder House is all about ensuring this continues for many more to come. It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the site and investing in the U.K.”
The renovation also helps further the ambition of the Chevallier family, which founded Aspall in 1728, to give more consumers a chance to experience their cider, vinegars and apple juices.
While the general look and feel of the 294-year-old cyder house remains intact, the project includes several critical upgrades that will make the facility more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Crews completed a new, modern fermentation building, which allowed for the reformatting of Aspall’s “tank farm,” where the cider is blended and stored, to create space for further expansion.
Aspall upgraded its wastewater treatment plant, allowing for wastewater to be treated on site instead of transported elsewhere.
The project also included construction of a new weighbridge that allows transport trucks to be weighed on-site, ensuring each truck is fully loaded before departure, reducing trips.
Together, the wastewater treatment upgrades and new bridge will reduce local traffic by the equivalent of 800 tankers a year, helping to reduce the site’s environmental impact, the company says.
Molson Coors can trace its legacy in North America to 1786, but its heritage in England extends much deeper into history. The Chevalier family began making Aspall cider in during the reign of King George II when Clement Chevalier planted an orchard in the parish of Aspall, on the western coast of England. The company has kept quality, authenticity and craftsmanship at the heart of its business since then.
Now, nine generations of the family have called the stately manor in the tiny, rural hamlet of Aspall home.
The Aspall Cyder House was built the same year the cydery was founded, and it still houses Clement Chevallier’s original mill and press. While production today doesn’t resemble 18th century practices, the large granite wheel used to crush apples was in use until 1947.
While Molson Coors is dedicated to protecting the brand’s heritage, it’s also investing in its future.
In addition to the site improvements, Aspall will launch its first-ever TV advertisement this year as part of a $3.7 million (£3 million) marketing campaign. Going live in June, the campaign will highlight Aspall across TV, digital and social channels, and out-of-home media. Coupled with experiential in-store and on-trade components, it aims to expose Aspall to a broader U.K. audience.
The brand has benefited from consumers’ growing willingness to pay more for high-end products to enjoy at home or while out with friends and family, Whitehead says.
“The premiumisation trend has been growing for some time now, and our newly rejuvenated Cyder House is ready to meet that growing popularity of super-premium ciders,” he says.