When it was known as Dry Blackthorn, it was once a serious challenger to Strongbow on the national stage, but its market share has seriously slipped back in recent years, not least due to heavy discounting by Bulmers during its latter years as an independent company. However, Blackthorn and its sister brands (e.g. Natch and Special Vat) are still popular in the south-west.
It is a cider produced by Gaymers, a subsidiary of C&C Group. It is sold in a variety of forms, commonly being served draught in pubs or being sold in 440 ml cans or two-litre bottles in shops and supermarkets.
The cider is mass-produced using non-traditional methods and contains apple concentrate, sugar and sweeteners and is fermented with a controlled yeast strain.
The cider is produced at the Gaymer Cider Company site on the A37 in Shepton Mallet (Mendip District, Somerset, England). Matthew Clark plc, the UK division of Constellation Brands Inc., acquired Blackthorn when it bought Taunton Cider in 1995. The recipe was soon changed, making the taste sweeter and raising the alcohol content to bring the product more into line with the market leader Strongbow.
In March 2009, Blackthorn was reformulated. It was not well received by many consumers in its heartland in the south west of England, who defaced The 'Black is Back' advertising campaign, alerted the press to their cause and organised Facebook protests. In March 2010, however, Gaymers announced that after the consumer backlash in the south west, the 'original' Dry Blackthorn recipe would be re-introduced in the region.