Jo Hilditch and British Cassis

Jun 29, 2020

The Blackcurrant Foundation is a collection of 35 growers who manage over 5,000 hectares of blackcurrant crop across the length and breadth of the UK. Each year, over 10,000 tonnes of delicious blackcurrants are produced, with the majority used to make the blackcurrant drink we all know and love, Ribena. But for Chair of the Blackcurrant Foundation, Jo Hilditch, blackcurrants are not only for Ribena – Jo is the mastermind behind the famous blackcurrant liqueur, British Cassis. Read on to find out more about Jo’s story… 

Jo is a fourth-generation blackcurrant grower who has grown blackcurrants herself since the early 90s. However, blackcurrants have been growing on her family farm in rural Herefordshire since the 1800s and have been commercially grown for Ribena since the 50s when the blackcurrant drink was first introduced as a source of Vitamin C for children and adults alike.

It was in 2006 when the idea for British Cassis came around. Jo had spent her French exchange in the countryside near Reims, where the drink of choice was a simple Kir (white wine and Creme de Cassis). With nobody in the UK producing anything similar and when confronted with a huge surplus of blackcurrants, making a British version of this French staple seemed like the only sensible option. 

Whilst the blackcurrants Jo grows for Ribena are collected on the day of harvest and transported to Thatcher’s in Somerset who process the berries and extract the juice, the blackcurrants for British Cassis remain on the farm to be blended. British Cassis has been an international hit in the luxury beverage market, gaining recognition for its unique and exciting taste. The versatile rich liquor can be added to fizz, mixed into cocktails or served alone over ice.

With the 2020 harvest on the horizon, Jo and her team are preparing for their busiest time of the year. Following an atrociously wet January and February with record rainfall, farmers across the UK then suffered a drought with record breaking temperatures in May. Farmers need rain at this time of year to swell the berries and help them get to where they need to be for harvest. Despite such a contrast in weather conditions, Jo is pleased with this year’s crop.

Alongside it, Jo and her team have also planted new cuttings and luckily there has been enough moisture in the ground to help them grow. There will be one new variety for Jo to harvest this year, these should have a great yield and have been developed in cooperation with Ribena for its great flavour.

To find out more about Jo and British Cassis, visit the website here.







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