Magners busts Guinness’ hold on Irish drinkers?

Aye, right...The phenomenal rise of Magners cider has to be seen to be believed. I know guys here in England who’ve never drunk cider before puzzling over why within twelve months of its GB launch they all to a man now drink Magners. Now it seems that in Ireland Bulmers increased cider production is accounting for some of a substantial dent in the scale of Guinness drinking which could have major implications for Diageo’s global marketing strategy.

In February Diageo revealed Irish Guinness sales had dropped 9% in the first half of its financial year – the steepest fall yet. Andrew Morgan, president of Diageo Europe, had little hope of an imminent reversal. “Historically, per-capita consumption has been very high and we are likely to see a reduction in pints consumed in an evening … that is likely to continue.” The group has previously tinkered with marketing but appears to accept consumer trends are running away from Guinness in Ireland.


  • Miss Fitz

    Yes indeed Mick, nice cold pint of Magners in the Custom House Square….. great way to enjoy the Laganside.

  • Fanny

    “Magners …a substantial dent in the scale of Guinness drinking…”

    Apples are good for you.

  • I’ve been drinking Magners on ice (half pint glass full) since 2002. Top drink, much better than Olde English.
    But do others agree it tastes different from the Bulmer’s that is sold in the South? Bulmer’s seems to have less of a fizz. Am I the only one who notices this?

  • Pete Baker

    “I know guys here in England who’ve never drunk cider before puzzling over why within twelve months of its GB launch they all to a man now drink Magners.”

    Because they’re gullible, Mick? and/or particularly susceptible to the advertising?

    Just a thought… ;o)

    Personally I’ve always preferred perry to cider.. but it doesn’t seem to have the same level of production/market.

    And in the meantime… red wine remains my drink du jour.


  • Mick Fealty

    Not so gullible that the question did not occur to them Pete. 😉

    The ice thing is a bit of a marketing pull (something similar to having to wait for your Guinness they brought in in Britain a few years back), but it also doesn’t have the chemically aftertaste you get from some other mass market ciders. I’m not sure it gets near the niche ciders in quality, but it’s at the very least inoffensive.

  • GurnyGub

    And…with the ad images of lazy old hand tended orchards in mind, I had heard it’s the only major cider brand relying on frozen concentrate. Let’s hope Diageo only ‘tinker’ at Guinness marketing, Mick, and not with the product again.

  • Pete Baker

    “Not so gullible that the question did not occur to them Pete. ;-)”

    Well, at least they’ve thought they might be being manipulated.

    On the ice thing… it takes up space in that pint-marked glass, you know…

  • apples’r’us

    Don’t drink much cider these days, but i recall my teenage years drinking pints of strongbow, old english and progressing to some mad english cider called ‘exhibition cider’. Now thats what you called cider, three bottles and you were a gonner.

    As I recall, the only place you could by exhibition was in the off-licence in the co-op in York Street(showing my age).

  • Mick Fealty

    Not my tipple I’m afraid, I’m going on the testimony of a certain expert witness of a close acquaintance, don’t you know. But the one pint I have tasted was the closest thing to Cidona I’ve had since childhood.

  • GurnyGub

    A proper pub ( going, going, ) would serve the ice on the side, maybe even in a glass!
    Perry is the one, more refained, but not that over-sweet one doing the rounds. Sainsbury’s have a decent selection of ciders, single varietals etc.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    I recall drinking Magner’s on ice in a certain Belfast emporium in ’99 or 2000 in the summer and while pleasant it was very sweet if you avoided the ice. The king of mass produced cider is of course, Scrumpy Jack which is tart and v refreshing but the truly “mad” cider of my youth was Merrydown vintage – headmelter!

    My favourite pub here has three varieties in plastic kegs on the bar, one of whch is a Kentish brew called “Double Vision” – the reason becomes very clear after 2 pints and very blurry after 4…

  • Thomas from Texas

    Dear friends, the increase in the consumption of cider is all due to global warming of course. Tis a pity that I travel to Ireland for the nice weather, only to find sunny rainless summer days, and end up with a sunburn while watching my friends drink their iced Bulmers. I’m thinking of opening up an air-conditioner outlet and ice cube tray shop in Cork.

  • I just don’t understand why people buy pint bottles of Magners when there are perfectly good taps there from which the drink is significantly less expensive. Any bottle drinkers care to enlighten me?

  • spice girl

    has anyone else experienced the almost lethal ‘magners breath’ the following morning? top tip about ice in an extra glass, like that one!

  • Mardy Bum

    Having been brought up on lethal Devon and Somerset scrumpy, Magners is a spot of light relief. If it hasn’t got an insect floating about in it and it doesn’t make you hallucinate slightly, it ain’t Zoiderrrr.

  • Nicholas Pugachev

    “I just don’t understand why people buy pint bottles of Magners when there are perfectly good taps there from which the drink is significantly less expensive. Any bottle drinkers care to enlighten me?”

    Beano….. its all about the ritual of topping up your glass half way over the ice & then topping it up again. Plus it tastes nicer out of a glass bottle. Needs the ice its way too sweet without it. Give me Taunton “Natch” anyday.

  • quizzical

    Something thats always bothered me, why is Magners called Bulmers in the South and why is Primark called Penney’s in the South?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Beano, definite difference in taste. The bottles are superior imo. I think the draught version is ‘gassier’ if there’s such a word – they cause more burping and farting anyway, the latter a bit of a problem since the smoking ban was introd in the Republic.

  • Mick Fealty

    Presumably because Bulmers is already a registered trademark for a old cider brand in the UK. You can get it in Stewarts Wine Barrel.

  • Ziznivy

    I can’t help purposely refraining from any drink of the moment. I refused to drink Becks when every gimp and his da was standing cradling a green bottle in poncy zinc-topped shit-holes and now that Magners and ice is the mode I can’t be having that either. Similarly despite enjoying perry at ale festivals in the past I’ve fastidiously avoided anything but a tentative sip of that Kopparberg Pear Cider.

    My cider drinking days ended with various copious expulsions of that drink late at night. Is my drink-addled mind playing up by remembering a cider called Autumn Mist (or Autumn Gold perhaps)?

  • Nick J

    ‘they all to a man now drink Magners’

    Never a truer word said. My friends, all mid 20’s are all over this. When I visit them in the south of England they are paying £4.50 for one of those lovely bottles.

    Strangely enough where I live in Spain, every single bar sells it and it is one of their top sellers. Brutal marketing and market share growth by Mr Magner.

    Still can not see it taking over from my favourite of my teenage years is Pulse Cider ‘The Cider with rythum’. Coming in at a whopping 7.5% it had me puking all over the swings at the local park many times.

    Happy Days

  • I am glad to see people coming to there sense, Guinness is disgusting!

    The nicest way to drink Magners/Bulmers is from a long neck bottle. For some reasons the pint bottles do not taste as nice.

  • GurnyGub

    Autumn Gold, Desert Gold was worser! Guinness first hit the cider market here with Strongbow 23 years ago, and when they want to change brands they simply change the taps and advertise mightily.They know all about the public’s attention span. Product quality is better in a bottle, with the added bonus of waving the label at one’s peers, knowingly or not. Come in Paddy Cashman!

  • offer it up

    I remember as a student in London in 2002 a Magners promotion team coming to the Irish pub across the road from our university. It seems to have really taken off over here in the last year though; all of my English friends drink it and it’s available in almost every pub in London.

    Re the Bulmers/Magners debate: Bulmers in the UK is a registered trademark of HP Bulmer who also make Strongbow. They also have a cider pint bottle called Bulmers which they sell in the UK. The thing that really pisses me off is that some pubs in NI (Dukes on Univeristy Street is one) stock pint bottles of this pish and give it to you when you ask for Magners. It has happened to me on a few ocassions in London too. It’s not fecking Magners, it’s rotten Strongbow in a bottle!

  • offer it up

    For more on the Bulmers/Magners war:,,1771479,00.html

  • Aging drinker

    Pish and tosh! It’s all about the hangovers, stupid! You can work the next day after a feed of cider…

    The rise of cider is due to the nature of the hangover induced – not too bad, although cider is hard on the tum. Guinness gives no tummy trouble as it is the only drink that is PH neutral (you can drink it if you have an ulcer), but it is sleep-inducing and gives a terrible hangover with a lot of angst, so much so that sometimes I even switch off my mobile!

    I find Hoegarden and Erdinger to taste really good and healthy, but the hangover induced is even worse than that of Guinness.

    But Kopparberg is the king of ciders – although it would cost a bit to get pissed on that.

  • nmc

    Has anyone noticed lots of people drinking pear cider? It’s also everywhere, seemingly overnight. It’s damn nice too.

  • The hangover crown must go to Caffreys’ (Brewed in County Antrim).

    I feel ill even thinking about it.

    Any other past (or present) Thunderbird drinkers out there? It was the weekend fuel of choice in Manchester back in the day.

  • Mick Fealty

    My close source tasted Kopparberg in Sweden a few years back and found it rank. But I’ve yet to find anyone in NI who thinks other than it’s great. Is it the additional ice?

  • nmc

    I think it’s more of a (grown) male alco-pop. You don’t feel as much of a wuss ordering cider as you would ordering a pineapple bacardi breezer, despite the fact that the cider is pure sugar.

    It’s strange how quickly people everywhere were drinking it, and all the bars, even the dodgy ones that only stock three types of beer sell it.

  • feismother

    Two of my daughters are students in England. They’re amazed that Magners is a cool drink amongst students over there whereas here it’s something you drink if you’re short of money – or so they tell me.

  • I can’t even smell Strongbow without being ill. Scrumpy Jack was my “first” drink along with Peach Concorde and that delightful little concoction, Fruit Unlimited (Also known as Mad Dog 20/20)
    Not really a huge fan of Magners, but I chugged half a pint glass of it a wee while ago because my friend wouldn’t finish it (I was verrr verrr drunk) and it wasn’t the worst in the world.

  • DST

    I had what I think will be my last Magners of the summer on Saturday afternoon at a pub in Hampstead. There was a wee chill in the air and my pint had a slightly wistful knowing quality to it.

    I can’t see me wanting to keep drinking Magner’s through the winter – it feels like a summer drink and it was definitely *the* summer drink in London this year. Was in several pubs that would just run out of the stuff.

    The ice thing was deffo a big part of the marketing success… I think the sweetness also worked, making it seem less alcoholic (and I guess increasing its appeal to a generation being weaned off alcopops…

    I am quite looking forward now to it getting darker and colder – time for more grown-up drinks like Guinness. And draft Kronenbourg, of course…

  • GurnyGub

    No noisy customers, no tv, the ticking of a clock, a pint of Guinness from clean line and tap, crossword of your choice….ahhhh.
    When all the must swill trendy brands have faded into dusty dark ringed beermats fallen behind the radiators of memory, nod to the barman for another one, and smile.

  • nmc

    I’m off to Dublin tomorrow, going to get a pint up in the bar at the guinness brewery. Can’t wait. Might even buy the wee man an Ireland rugby top.

  • “here it’s something you drink if you’re short of money”

    Either your daughters aren’t very money conscious or they have a very different definition of “short on money” than I do. Magners is as expensive as beer on draught and even moreso from a bottle. Even from an off-licence it isn’t that cheap, not like the big barrack-busters of Strongbow or Symond’s.

  • cladycowboy

    I’ve been told that Magners employ a policy of tight control over amounts they give to Supermarkets and only deliver to those who agree to sell the stuff at the price they fix, so as not to start a price war.

    This keeps the price of Magners inflated. Their marketing seems to be as astute as their advertising. The corporate hoors!

    This may or may not be true. I may or may not have been drunk at the time. I may or may not have had a bottle of Magners in my hand at the time…

  • DST

    “I had what I think will be my last Magners of the summer on Saturday afternoon at a pub in Hampstead”

    The Spaniards Inn per chance?

  • darth rumsfeld

    “why is Magners called Bulmers in the South and why is Primark called Penney’s in the South?

    Posted by quizzical on Aug 30, 2006 @ 09:31 AM”

    … and why is Londonderry called Derry in the south? Very curious. You’d have thought that a country with multi-syllable names like MacGillicuddy Reeks could manage a wee name like Londonderry

  • Exiled in Scotland

    I was involved in a radicle scientific experiment as a youth in NI.
    The overall aim was not explained to me at the outset – but the experiment ran a little like this.
    Once a week (twice in summer) I’d purchase a bottle of cider (BOC) for £3 and promptly consume in a lane or alleyway with friends. By the time I was 18 I was not as disciplined and sometimes didn’t drink a BOC for weeks on end.

    Anyway – now I am cured of all cider-drinking tendencies. Even the smell of a cider swilling yuppie’s breath makes me want to throw-up.

    The experiment was a success and i have no urge to poison myself with fermented apple cores anymore. This extends to sparkling wine as well.


    Diageo to keep pouring Guinness

    Diageo is facing challenges in the Irish beer market
    Drinks giant Diageo says it has no plans to sell off its Guinness brand, despite a drop in sales in the drink’s homeland of the Irish Republic.
    It came as the firm revealed annual pre-tax profits of £2.1bn in the year to 30 June, up from £1.9bn a year ago.

    The world’s biggest alcoholic drinks group also owns Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker whisky and Baileys liquor.

    “We have no plans to sell Guinness. In the UK it is doing very well,” Diageo boss Paul Walsh told the BBC.

    Investors disappointed

    Mr Walsh said that Guinness retained a high profile in the UK, thanks to its advertising campaigns and sponsorship of rugby union.

    “Guinness has helped drive market share gains,” he added.

    But the Diageo results statement said challenges in the Irish beer market had “adversely impacted” on growth in Europe, with Guinness sales in Ireland down 3% over the year.

    Shares in Diageo fell 2.7% in morning trade after market hopes that the group might raise targets for the current year were not realised.

    Diageo said operating profit would increase by “at least” 7% in its current financial year, but investors had been looking for more.

    Total sales increased by 8% to £9.7bn during the year, helped by a strong performance in the US and Canada.

  • What non-tourist in Ireland actually drinks Guinness anyway? I find I have to force it down my neck – although I will admit it’s a league away from the likes of Scrumpy Jack, as I found out last week…

  • GurnyGub

    Their challenges in the Irish market, are partly self-inflicted, with over reliance on call centre customer ‘care’, and a big reduction in both sales and service personnel. As their old MD John Lavery said, “If you’re not out there, you don’t deserve the business”- expletives deleted.