When The Apple Thief took over the Wilgro Orchards in Batlow, we discovered that the renowned orchard held some special secrets. Tucked away between the rows of Batlow’s famous and familiar apples such as Pink Lady, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith, Dave (our chief Thief) was excited to find small parcels of rare heritage cider apples.  

Cider apples’ origins can be traced to the UK and France where the art of cider making has been evolving for centuries.  These heritage cider apples typically have higher levels of tannin and acids than eating apples. As the new custodians of these orchard rarities, Dave and cider maker Campbell had to wait patiently for the ’23 harvest to get their hands on the fruit.

The Apple Thief’s first foray into small batch heritage cider production has already proved successful. We are thrilled that each of our three heritage ciders were recognised with medals at the 2023 Australian Cider Awards. 

In the Traditional Cider Medium (9-25g/l) category, The Apple Thief Kingston Black received Silver while our Orchard Blend won bronze. In the Dry category (<9g/L), which the judges noted included world class examples, our Bulmers Norman achieved Bronze.

“This is just the start”, promises our cider maker Campbell. Also an award-winning wine maker, Campbell uses those skills and knowledge to bring the fruit’s inherent character, complexity and flavours to the fore. “Some of these heritage breeds are growing just metres form our cidery so we can keep a very close eye on the fruit so we can pick and start the process at just the right time.”

“ Responding to the seasonal variations and the season’s best fruit is why we do what we do. With our heritage breeds, we have the opportunity to produce single fruit ciders like the classic Kingston Black or to carefully balance the bitter, sweet and sharp characteristics of up to eight heritage breeds from small parcels around the orchard to create ciders like this year’s Orchard Blend.”

Campbell is committed to exploring innovation and new flavours across The Apple Thief portfolio. We’re excited to be part of COLLABS, – an initiative of  the city of Wagga Wagga and Visit Wagga Tourism.  COLLABS is a curated collection of bespoke and crafted products from throughout the local region. We’ve created a limited edition premium Apple and Sour Cherry Cider that features our own orchard-grown Amarelle Sour Cherries. Grab a taste exclusively from thewaggashop.com

As our orchard continues to reveal its ‘secrets’ and the most interesting seasonal variations, Campbell is looking forward to experimenting with the cider process. Future innovations are likely to include wild fermentation, extended skin contact, barrel ageing and more.

Our small batch, limited edition Heritage Ciders are designed for sharing in 750ml bottles. With lower carbonation, these lightly sparkling ciders are crafted to showcase the complexity and characteristics of our orchard fruit.  They are currently only available through our online store or from the Apple Thief Cider House on Batlow Road. Discover your new favourite while you can. Stocks are limited.

 Kingston Black - A traditional hand-crafted cider made from our Kingston Black apples grown only a few metres from our cidery. It has complex aromas of ripe apples and butterscotch with a burnt toffee character reminiscent of vanilla crème brûlée.

It’s medium sweet with balanced acid, and tannin to provide a long and refreshing finish. This cider is best served with your favourite artisan cheese.

Bulmers Norman - A bittersweet cider apple variety known for its moderate tannin and acidity. Handcrafted from our own heritage apples, this dry cider has aromas of fresh apple and honeysuckle with subtle tannin and slight fizz to add lift and life to the palate.

This cider is best served on holidays while looking out at the ocean!

Orchard Blend - A complex handcrafted cider made from a blend of our heritage Apples; Brown Snout, Michelin, Somerset Redstreak and Browns Apple. It is moderately sweet with a textured mouthfeel and brings together the best of each apple to make a balanced traditional cider.

This cider is best served cold on a hot summer afternoon!

Where we hide out...

Discover where to nab a taste of your favourite Apple Thief Cider at your nearest bottle shop, restaurant or bar. If you can't find us nearby, drop us an email and we'll see if we can hit up your favourite local.