David Sheppy and Rohan Nihalani Bring Apple Cider from Somerset to India | Stay Tipsy
Sheppy’s cider has been a big name in the UK for over 200 years now. The ever-so-popular and highly distinct flavour of their cider has been traveling over 6 generations of Sheppys. In their latest venture, David Sheppy has collaborated with Rohan Nihalani, founder of Morgan Beverages, to introduce India to the exciting world of apple cider, a drink popular only within craft brew circles so far. I spoke with the two collaborators who share a vast amount of experience in the alcohol business about what their entry into our market means, and what they plan to do with the world-famous cider in India.
Give us a brief introduction to the brand and its history.
David: Sheppy’s Cider is an awarding-winning cider-making company where we have been proudly creating traditionally craft blends on our farm in the heart of Somerset for over 200 years. It was in 1816 that my ancestors picked and pressed the first batch of apples on their Somerset farm and the rest, as they say, is history.
What made you consider India to be the next perfect market for cider?
Rohan: India is a market which is totally untapped in terms of Apple Ciders. The only way people know or have heard about it are the ones who have traveled around the world. During my research phase, I had tasted over 200 different ciders, both commercial and artisanal and realised Ciders could be a good product to introduce under my brand Morgan Beverages Pvt. Ltd. With the Indian market, the knowledge about Apple Ciders is limited to apple cider flavoured beers brewed in the microbreweries. But with Sheppy’s cider, we wanted to increase the horizon of the customer base as today customers are more acceptable to experiment with new spirits and beverages.
What was the most challenging aspect of introducing Sheppy’s to India?
Rohan: A major challenge was the regulations and compliances being different from those in the UK, and also the taxation structure for alcohol imports in India. But thanks to our exporting experts at Tudor Rose International and Mr. Rajiv Singhal (Wine and Champagne connoisseur), we were able to quickly deal with these issues and move forward.
How is Sheppy’s different from the local ciders being brewed here?
Rohan: While a host of microbreweries in India have Apple Cider Beer on their menu but the taste, texture and ingredients used differs from the malt based and vegan apple cider.
The Classic Draught cider is an iconic product for Sheppy’s brand, having the right balance of dryness and sweetness and is made with 100% raw apples.It also pairs very well with the Indian palate of food.
How has the response been so far?
Rohan: Wonderful! Consumers have been very welcoming to our products and we’ve got some great reviews too! With Sheppy’s being already present in all leading restaurants, pubs and retails stores in Mumbai and a couple in Pune too, we’re sure to reach our goal of making Ciders the next big thing in India very soon!
Which is your personal favourite drink from the range?
David: 200 Special Edition. It’s a fantastic combination and example of everything we stand for as a cider-maker – great apples in the blend, maturation in oak vats, time and love in the creation of it, slightly sweeter taste to appeal to the millennials who are creating the demand for high quality but slightly lower ABV premium cider.
Can you give us an insight on the future Apple Cider launches in India?
Rohan: In January 2019, we gave a sneak peek of the Sheppy’s 200 Special Edition Cider to the Indian consumers that had been launched in UK to celebrate the 200th year Anniversary of Sheppy’s as a brand. It will be in the market soon. Also, we are all set to introduce an Australian Apple Cider brand in the coming month.
You have mentioned that you believe Apple Cider will be the next big drink in India. Why do you say so?
Rohan: A change is being seen in the taste and preferences of the Indian consumers and with the rising digital mediums the consumer is now open to variety and is keen on trying new brands and exploring new tastes as well. That’s why I’m sure they would be very welcoming to Ciders too.
Along with Sheppy’s Cider being light, fresh and crisp it is also Vegan, naturally Gluten-free and has the nutrients of apples in it – So along with a great taste it fits right into the consumer’s healthy lifestyle.