Bottle Kicking Cider Company have been supplying The Exchange with their delicious ciders since 2011. They are always a favourite amongst our customers and they went down a treat at our recent beer festival. Read more about the story of the Bottle Kicking Cider Company and the man behind the business Rob Morton..
How did you come up with the idea for The Bottle Kicking Cider Company and how long have you been in business?
I was working in London and living in Leicestershire, commuting every day. I was conscious that work life balance was weighted too heavily towards work and not enough time with the family. Chatting with my wife one evening the topic of conversation revolved around “there has got to be a better way,” and the seed for Bottle Kicking Cider was sewn.
Where are you based?
We are based in the beautiful village of Hallaton in South East Leicestershire, famous for the “Bottle Kicking and hare pie Scramble” that takes place every Easter Monday.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
I graduated from Leicester University 34 years ago and embarked on a career in the food industry. I actually trained as a flour miller, working in a mill in Battersea on the banks of the Thames. Working for a large food company took me all over the country and as far north as Scotland, always involved in food production. I ended up running factories that made chilled convenience food for the big Supermarkets, products like Pizzas, pies, pasties and Italian ready meals!
Do you run your business full or part-time?
Making cider and running the business is my full time job. My commute has changed significantly though. Based at home, the cider house is some 50 metres away at the bottom of our paddock in Hallaton. I am extremely lucky.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every day is different as I am involved in every aspect of the business. The first part of the week is spent collating orders and demand planning. This is converted into a production plan, and blending the ciders to our customers requirements. All our ciders are blended to order to maximise product quality and freshness. The back end of the week is devoted to delivering, making sure our customers have the required stock in advance of their busy trading period over the weekend.
Where do you get inspiration for your ciders?
Product development and innovation is really important to us and our customers. There is no single source of inspiration. I get great ideas and requests from our customers for specific ciders: sweet, dry, cloudy and different types of fruit. We recently developed a cloudy cider for The Exchange Bar following a request for Calvados week! It has gone down a storm in the bar and become a firm favourite. Having a core (excuse the pun) of great ciders is key, and then being flexible and reacting to trends is important to stay relevant in a competitive market.
What part of the brewing process do you enjoy the most?
I love it all! Once the hard work of apple washing, milling and pressing is done, there is no better feeling, watching a tank of apple juice slowly ferment and turn into cider! Obviously the final taste test is a critical part of the process....a real chore!
How long have you been supplying The Exchange? And how often do you make deliveries?
The Exchange bar was one of our first customers back in 2011. I think both businesses recognise the benefits of local sourcing and the provenance of craft made, locally produced Leicestershire cider. We deliver every 2 to 3 weeks, sometimes more frequently in the Summer, especially if one of The Exchange festivals is taking place.
How do you split your time effectively between brewing and doing admin/finances and do you have any time management tips?
Brewing is very seasonal, tied to the ripening of the different varieties of apples we use. This is a full on activity in Autumn through to Winter. Admin is done in the evening. As far as time management is concerned my best tip is to plan all the jobs that need doing in advance and execute that plan as accurately as possible. Always leave thinking time ( plan to do nothing) because that helps innovation for the business. Don’t procrastinate with tasks that need to be done, hit them quickly as they arise. Be precious about your downtime, its easy to work 24/7 on your own business, value family and friends.
What's your best seller?
The first cider we made was “Scrambler". We now have more than 10 ciders in our portfolio, but our first (and some say our best) cider remains our best seller. Something we got right first time!
Why not head down to The Exchange and try out their fantastic ciders for yourself..