Artistraw – Woodseaves Oak Apples 2019 – Reviewed

Producer:  Artistraw Cider http://www.artistraw.co.uk
Cider Name: Woodseaves Oak Apples 2019
Region: Herefordshire
ABV:6.4
Taste: Full-bodied earthy pet nat, Medium Dry
Served:  750ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Fruity, floral
Colour: Bright Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Sparkling (Pet Nat) plenty of Fizz

Review / Tasting notes

“This is an orchard blend of apples picked a pip’s throw away from the famed Great Oak of Eardisley. Recorded in the Domesday Book this stately 900 year old tree is much revered but perhaps has only become so because of its age. It serves as a wonderful reminder to protect and indeed plant young trees, so that they too might reach the same lofty status! Light and refreshing, reflecting the earlier styles of Herefordshire Cider.”

Artistraw have produced a cider on the drier side of medium which is quite a departure from their earlier ‘Shrews’ flight. The result here is a far more complex cider which is floral and earthy on the nose and beautifully balanced on the palate.

A trace of lemon citrus acidity and sweetness sits beneath a fruity and tannic blast upfront. There is a definite nod to the French with this pet-nat which fizzes on the pour and sparkles in the glass.

Verdict:

Racked a little less and fermented for longer than some of its predecessors, this ‘Straw has great depth and body. A super table cider that would accompany most meals.

Rating: This is a Cider of Merit in the category (Craft cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Pilton Cider – Tamoshanta – Reviewed

Producer:  Pilton Cider http://www.piltoncider.com
Cider Name: Tamoshanta
Region: Somerset
ABV:4.7
Taste: Medium sweet and smokey with a whiskey and charcoal infusion
Served:  750ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Smokey, Fruity, vanilla
Colour: Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“A fruity keeved cider, partially fermented in oak barrels.”

This cider takes its name from the epic poem Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns, as on Burns Night, the young keeved cider is transferred to Scotch whisky barrels to finish and mature.

In the poem, Tam journeys home on his horse in a storm after a long drinking session to face the wrath of his disapproving wife, Kate, “Gathering her brows like gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”

I’m sure many of us have experienced that particular scenario…no…just me then!

Pilton’s Tamoshanta is a wonderfully presented cider: amber in colour and as clear as spring water. On the nose, there are notes of smoke and vanilla alongside lots of fresh apples.

The taste is clean and crisp before the smoke and tannins add body. Like Burn’s epic poem, this cider has depth; the Scotch Whisky barrel fermentation really works. I’m sure that Tam would have approved.

In the last stanza of the poem, Burns warns his readers to think carefully before turning to drink and women with short skirts…what does he know anyway?

Verdict:

This is an easy-drinking, clean, crisp cider with plenty of smokey depth. At 4.7%, a 750ml bottle is perfect for two on a summer evening.

Rating: This is a Cider of great Merit in the category (Craft cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Skyborry – Pommage – Reviewed

Producer:  Skyborry Cider & Perry
Cider Name: Pommage 2019
Region: Powys
ABV:5.0%
Taste: Medium Sweet
Served:  375ml Bottle Room Temperature
Smell: Fresh Apples
Colour: Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Fruit from the main cider orchard harvested at Hawkswood Farm: a short distance from the town of Hay on Wye on the Welsh border. Stoke Red (bitter sharp), Kingston Black (bittersharp), Bulmer’s Norman (bittersweet), Chisel Jersey, and Dabinett (both bittersweet) were blended throughout the pressing season.”

This is vintage 2019 Medium Sweet cider produced in limited numbers, which is a blessing if you can find a bottle, and a curse if you can not, as it is a real treat.  The aroma of fresh, ripe apples – which have been expertly blended – gives a lovely, smooth, sweet taste that you will not get bored of in a hurry.

Verdict:

Never judge a book by its cover and never judge this cider by its bottle.  The bottle itself, only giving the basic information, belies the delights within.  This is an extremely moorish, beautifully balanced, crisp, clean, refreshing cider with just the right hint of sweetness.  It smells and tastes great and well worth finding those extra pennies for, as you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: This is a Cider of Merit in the category (Craft cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Artistraw Cider – Across the Shrewniverse – Reviewed

Producer:  Artistraw Cider http://www.artistraw.co.uk/cider
Cider Name: Across the Shrewniverse (2019 Dry)
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV:6.0%
Taste: Bitter and woody finish, Fruity, Clove, Oak, Smoky
Served:  375ml Bottle Room Temperature
Smell: Fruity Apple, Fragrant, Grass, Grapefruit
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Hazy
Carbonation: Naturally Sparkling – Pet-Nat

Review / Tasting notes

“Across the Shrewniverse’ is a blend of handpicked fruit from a beautiful traditional standard orchard in the Grey Valley in Herefordshire. Wild fermented, this dry, unpasteurised, unfiltered and naturally sparkling cider beautifully compliment smoked cheese. Cosmic sparkles propel stellar flavour supernovae into the olfactory black hole before eclipsing towards tellurian toffee apple orbits ”

Artistraw are really making a name for themselves in the world of craft cider. This is another great example of why that is.

The deep golden cider pours hazy in the glass lending it a buttery shine that looks stunning. The aroma is full-on apple briefly, before giving way to notes of bitter fruit, clove, and grass.

On the palate, there is a brief hit of acidity and sweetness before the bitterness and astringency really kick in. Clove and oak dominate the long-lasting smoky, bitter and astringent finish that will delight more discerning cider drinkers.

Verdict:

Although this is a very good cider indeed, it lacks the balance of others in the range. The finish is long and astringent but also a little too oaky and bitter for our liking.

Rating: This is a Cider of Merit in the category (Craft cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Purbeck Cider – Forgotten Orchard (Garden Mint) – Reviewed

Producer:  Purbeck Cider  http://purbeckcidercompany.co.uk
Available to buy from https://orchardexplorers.club/
Cider Name: Forgotten Orchard Garden Mint Cider
Region: Dorset, Uk
ABV: 4.0%
Taste:  Garden Mint, Bittersweet Apple
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Garden Mint, Fresh Apple
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“An intriguing blend of our finest sweet cider infused with fresh garden mint, to produce a refreshingly long, gently sparkling delight.”

The Isle of Purbeck is a peninsula on the Dorset Coast. It is the home of Corfe Castle, the seaside town of Swanage, and was infamous for being the regular holiday destination of Famous Five author Enid Blyton…cue lots of Enid Blyton references!

“Lashings” of fresh garden mint dominate the nose, but not to such an extent that the apple is lost. The taste is of sweet apple and garden mint; they complement each other like Noddy and Big Ears! The high quality of the sweet cider makes this delightful fusion possible.

One of the (not so secret) seven Purbeck ciders in their range, Garden Mint is one of a celebration of new ciders inspired by Dorset’s forgotten orchards. It is fruity, refreshing, and very well blended.

Verdict:

Whilst Julian, Dick, Anne, and George (not forgetting Timmy the dog) might extol the virtues of a refreshing ginger beer on a balmy summer afternoon in the countryside, one can imagine their parents guzzling bottles of Forgotten Orchard Garden Mint, firing up the BBQ and wandering what in the hell their kids were getting up to.

Rating: This is a cider of Merit in the category (Fruit and Innovations Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Lilley’s Cider – Apples and Pears – Reviewed

Producer: Lilley’s Cider 
Cider Name: Apples and Pears 
Region: Somerset, UK 
ABV: 5.2% 
Taste: Sweet with caramel and honey notes 
Served: Chilled 
Smell: Caramel 
Colour: Straw 
Clarity: Clear 
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling 
Award Category: (Mainstream Apple and Pear) 

Review/Tasting Notes: 

“Made from 88% pear and 12% apple. Sweet in flavour with a moth-watering almost exotic taste.” 

Lilley’s Apples and Pears is another very sweet and refreshing drink that is perfect for the pub garden. The aroma is distinctly caramel with honey notes. The taste is both fruity and sweet but lacks in acidity, tannin and aftertaste.  

Bittersweet apple follows the upfront sweetness quite rapidly but neither flavour lingers for long enough.  

Verdict: 

Lilley’s Apples and Pears is a lovely sweet perry/cider. It is the kind of beverage that you could consume too much of quite easily, in a pub garden on a summer’s day with friends.  

Rating: This is a cider of merit (Mainstream Apple and Pear) 

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Lilley’s Cider – Bee Sting – Reviewed

Producer: Lilley’s Cider 
Cider Name: 
Region: Somerset, UK 
ABV: 6.8% 
Taste: Sweet Pear and Honey 
Served: Chilled 
Smell: Honey, Caramel, Pear 
Colour: Golden 
Clarity: Clear  
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling 
Award Category: (Mainstream Perry) 

Review/Tasting Notes: 

“Sweet but incredibly refreshing with a glorious fresh tasting pear flavour and a wonderful pear aroma” 

Lilley’s Bee Sting is an incredibly sweet perry with a real sting in its tail. This is graced with honey notes from the sugary sweet upfront taste to the slightly bitter finish.  Beautifully golden in colour with a fizz to match, this perry presents elegantly in the glass. 

The aroma does have caramel and honey notes, but it is lacking in pear aroma. This theme is continued into the taste of the drink where sweetness and honey dominate the presence of any fruit. 

Verdict: 

The tasters agreed that this is a lovely perry drink but lacked in the qualities that would merit a higher award. Bee Sting is a perfect perry for the pub garden on a Summer’s day. 

Rating: This is a cider of merit (Mainstream Perry) 

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Temple Cider – Kingston Black – Reviewed

Producer: Temple Cider https://www.templecider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Kingston Black
Region: Dorset, Uk
ABV: 7.5%
Taste: Smooth and Earthy, Fiery clove and Bitter Orange
Served: 500ml bottle (Room temperature)
Smell: Earthy, Spice, Oak
Colour: Light Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: Craft Cider SV(Single Variety)

Review / Tasting notes

“Our single variety Kingston Black cider is simply special as it is a true single variety with no other apples involved. A true classic among ciders, being dry and delicious, the Kingston Black is our strongest cider. We love it!”

The quality of this single variety craft cider is evident from the moment it is poured. Light amber in colour and beautifully still, this is a statement that nothing will be coming between the reassuringly natural fermentation process and the taster’s palates.

The apple aroma has a distinct earthiness to it and a hint of spice. It is pleasant and congruent with the taste to follow.

The upfront brush of sweetness gives way quickly to a complex range of flavours. Fiery spice, clove and cinnamon balance well with the subtle bitter orange notes present. The bitter-sharp Kingston Black quite rightly takes centre stage, and this vintage is softly bitter with lashings of tannic presence.

Verdict: This is a smooth craft cider of noteworthy quality. Blessed with subtle flavours and a fiery underbelly of spice that lingers a while on the palate, this is a fine example of all that a single variety cider has to offer.

Rating: Cider of Merit (Craft Cider SV)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)