White Lightning (cider)

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White Lightning was a brand of English white cider produced from the early 1990's to 2009.

Origin[edit]

White Lightning was originally manufactured in the early 1990s by Inch's Cider of Winkleigh. Inch's Cider was bought out by H. P. Bulmer in 1995, and in spite of initial assurances that production would continue in Winkleigh, the cider brewery there was shut and all production moved to Hereford. Bulmers was in turn acquired by Scottish Courage in 2003.

White Lightning bottle

Commercial success[edit]

White Lightning quickly gained brand recognition in the late 1990's-2000's in a competitive marketplace with its distinctive large deep blue coloured thin plastic bottle's design, very low price and high strength, making it popular with those seeking strong alcohol with minimal money to spend. On its release, its strength was 8.4% alcohol by volume, which, after pressure from the government over the gathering evidence of its adverse social effects that were becoming apparent, was later reduced to 7.5%, then finally to 5.5% in May 2009.[1]

Production discontinued[edit]

At the end of 2009, Heineken International, which now owned the White Lightning label having inherited it when it bought out Scottish Courage, decided to discontinue its manufacture due to its brand image problem in the United Kingdom as having become synonymous with under-age drinking, anti-social behaviour, homelessness and impoverished alcoholism, in an echo of the Gin Craze of the 18th century.[2] Such cheap non-distilled drinks (both high-strength beer and cider) became known as "tramp juice" in the UK media. When sold on special at liquor stores, 3 litre plastic bottles of 8.4% White Lightning could be purchased for less than £2.

Cultural references[edit]

White Lightning is referenced negatively in both Jake Bugg's Two Fingers, singer-songwriter Jamie T's 2009 hit Sticks 'n' Stones, and The Black Lips' 2014 single Boys In The Wood. The Ska-punk band Shootin' Goon was sponsored by White Lightning in its tours.

Notes[edit]