Artistraw Cider Subterranean Homesick Shrews 2019 – Reviewed

Producer:  Artistraw Cider http://www.artistraw.co.uk/cider
Cider Name: Cloudy Cider (Medium Sweet)
Available at: https://orchardexplorers.club/artistraw-cider-subterranean-homesick-shrews-2019
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV:6.6%
Taste: Astringent Finish, Fruity, Straw, Biscuity
Served:  375ml Bottle Room Temperature
Smell: Fruity Apple, Fragrant
Colour: Orange
Clarity: Hazy
Carbonation: Naturally Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Artistraw Cider Subterranean Homesick Shrews 2019 is a naturally sparkling, dry, pure juice Herefordshire Cider, made from a handpicked blend of Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Ellis Bitter, Yarlington Mill, and Bramley. Pressed in December 2019, it has been wild fermented and finished in the bottle pet nat style.”

Artistraw are really making a name for themselves in the world of craft cider. This blend is a great indication of just why this is. Everything about Subterranean Homesick Shrews 2019 oozes class. The bottle and label is a work of art, raising expectations of the cider within.

The deep orange colour and fragrant aroma promise quality and Artistraw deliver this in abundance. The wild yeast lends this perfectly balanced cider a biscuity, champagne-style finish, very much in the style of Little Pomona’s Table Cider or Dunkerton’s Medium Dry Organic.

Verdict:

Everything about this pet-nat, cider blend oozes class. An astringent finish, so this won’t please everyone. Purists will appreciate this and we think it is a great table cider: perfect with food and for sharing.

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

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

Gwatkin Cider – Cloudy Medium Sweet Cider – Reviewed

Producer:  Gwatkin Cider Co http://gwatkincider.co.uk
Cider Name: Cloudy Cider (Medium Sweet)
Available at: https://orchardexplorers.club/gwatkin-cloudy-cider
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV:4.5%
Taste:  Medium Sweet, Juicy with honey notes and light citrus
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Fruity Apple, Lemon zest, Honey
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Cloudy
Carbonation: Still Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Gwatkin Cloudy Cider is a medium-sweet, traditional style farmhouse cider, with a natural taste.”

This cloudy cider, made from 100% apples, is very good indeed. The blend is dominated by the russet apples, giving an upfront taste of pure juice and honey before the sweetness kicks in. Beneath the caramel and light acidity, there are enough sharps to make themselves present on the palate. A trace of citrus, possibly lemon zest, occurs naturally and adds to the complex flavours.

Pure sugar is used to sweeten this blend and for some, this may be just too sweet to enjoy. However, as a reviewer who enjoys dry ciders, I was surprised by how much I loved this.

Verdict:

Gwatkin make cider in the traditional way. This cloudy, medium sweet apple cider is rated very highly by our tasters. Expect to see it appear in our Top 100.

Rating: This is a Cider of Distinction in the category (Regional cider)

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

Bushel & Peck – The Gribble – Reviewed

Producer:  Bushel & Peck  http://www.bushelpeck.co.uk
Available to buy from https://orchardexplorers.club/
Cider Name: The Gribble (Yarlington Mill Single Variety Cider)
Region: Gloucestershire, Uk
ABV: 7.0%
Taste:  Rich and full-bodied, Bittersweet
Served:  750ml Bottle Room Temperature
Smell: Floral, Fresh Grass
Colour: Deep Amber
Clarity: A little cloudy
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“A rich and full-bodied cider with lingering tannic complexity typical of this wonderful bittersweet cider apple.”

I’m not quite sure where the name came from for this gem of a single variety cider from Bushel and Peck’s 2019 Limited Edition. Quite frankly, I don’t care. The best “Gribbles” I could find was a species of marine isopod from the family Limnoriidae and Dale Gribble: Hank Hill’s next-door neighbour in The King of the Hill. I’m going with the second offering, so as Dale Gribble would say “Boil up some Mountain Dew; it’s gonna be a long night.”

This is just about as complex as a single variety cider could aspire to be. Despite an understated floral and grassy aroma, this cider packs plenty of punch on the palate. Up-front sweet juice is followed quickly with bitterness, traces of licorice, mandarin, tannins aplenty, and a bitterness that lingers. Despite this being a bittersweet apple, there is acidity and sharpness to add to the complex mix, brought about by the addition of a little malic acid to the fermentation tank. The finish is smooth and mellow and there is a dryness to it.

‘The Gribble’ is wild fermented and bottled before primary fermentation has finished: the Petillant Naturel (Pet-Nat) method. The result is a biscuity flavour that adds, rather than detracts, from the quality of the cider.

Verdict:

An outstanding example of a single variety apple cider. This is not a vintage to miss out on if you are serious about your cider.

Rating: This is a cider of Distinction in the category (Craft Cider – Single Variety Apple)

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)

Malvern Cider Co. – Malvern Gold – Reviewed

Producer:  Malvern Cider Co https://www.astonmanor.co.uk/products/malvern-cider-co/
Cider Name: Malvern Gold Medium Dry Herefordshire Cider
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV: 6.0%
Taste:  Medium Dry
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Apple, Hint of Straw
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Grown in the shadow of the Hereford and Worcestershire Hills, blended bittersweet apples including Three Countries, Yarlington Mill, and Dabinett.  Taste is achieved without artificial colourings, flavourings or sweeteners”

This advertises itself as a medium dry cider though the first element to the fore is a nice, though brief, sweet taste before a quite mild dry finish forms in the mouth.  The dry side has a hint of smoke and oak which is quite morish whilst it lasts.

Verdict:

The Malvern Hills are famous for their water and Malvern also has a luxury spa.  Whilst this cider may not reach the famous heights of the water, it deserves some spotlight in the cider world and you would not be overly disappointed if you were served this at the luxury spa. Very smooth, with a hit of sweetness before a pleasantly dry finish.  The main fault is that the dry finish disperses all too soon.

Rating: This is a good cider in the category mainstream cider

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

Henry Westons – Cloudy Vintage Medium Dry – Review

Producer: Henry Westons http://westons-cider.co.uk
Cider Name: Cloudy Vintage Medium Dry
Region: Herefordshire, UK 
ABV: 7.3% 
Taste: Medium Dry
Served: 500ml Bottle (Chilled) 
Smell: Fresh and Fruity
Colour: Dark Amber
Clarity: Lightly Hazy and Golden
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling
Award Category: (Mainstream Apple Cider)

Review / Tasting notes:

“Slowly matured, spending time in oak vats in Herefordshire to deliver a sparkling, fruity & full-bodied cider”

Popping the lid on this cloudy cider instantly reveals a pleasant fruity apple aroma.  The aroma though gives more fruity apple than the taste which provides only a faint hint of apple before quickly giving way to a dry finish.  A dry finish which is on the side of full rather than medium. 

Verdict:

A stratus cloud is flat, layered, and smooth whereas this Henry Westons cloudy cider is lightly sparkling, slightly fruity, and dry.  The lack of slightly more fruity apple in the taste, which the aroma points to, is a real shame and stops this cider from scoring more highly.

Rating: This is a Good Cider in the category (Mainstream Apple Cider)

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

Simon’s Cider – Barton Perry – Reviewed

Producer: Simon’s Cider http://simonscider.co.uk
Cider Name: Barton Perry
Region: Cambridgeshire, UK 
ABV: 6.5% 
Taste: Dry, Pear
Served: Room Temp 
Smell: Pear
Colour: Cream – pear flesh
Clarity: Cloudy 
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: (Craft Perry)

Review/Tasting Notes:

“Dry Perry with a 50:50 blend of Wilding Perry and Conference pears”

Barton Perry from Simon’s Cider is an interesting blend with a full-on pear aroma. Acidity and sharpness dominate the balance of this perry but perhaps a little too much for some.

A dry perry is certainly an acquired taste and this may not be for everybody. The strong acidity makes this a little vinegary and less enjoyable for us, as a result.

The aftertaste is the main redeeming quality of this perry. The pear flavour lingers way beyond the expected time and it feels like you’ve just sucked on a whole bag of pear drops and sour sweets.

Verdict: Not for everybody. If you enjoy malic cider then this Perry might be for you.

Rating: This is a good cider in the category (Craft Perry)

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

Simon’s Cider – Dabinett – Reviewed

Producer: Simon’s Cider http://simonscider.co.uk
Cider Name: Dabinett
Region: Cambridgeshire, UK 
ABV: 6.9% 
Taste: Dry, Tannic, Spicy 
Served: Room Temp 
Smell: Floral and Christmas Spice – Plum Notes
Colour: Dark Amber
Clarity: Mostly clear with a slight haze 
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: (Regionally Produced Cider)

Review / Tasting notes:

“The depth and complexity of Dabinett is amazing, it is magnificent in the blend.  It is incredibly tannic with Christmas spice notes.”

The aroma of this single variety Dabinett from Simon’s Cider is bright, floral with Christmas Spice and plum notes. Dark brown amber in the bottle, this still cider pours beautifully. It looks great in the glass.

The bittersweet Dabinett is a great cider apple for a single variety cider and this is an excellent example. Upfront sweetness is replaced almost instantaneously with bitterness and light acidity. The fruity and spicy aftertaste lingers briefly in a dry and clean finish.

Verdict: A fine cider that presents the Dabinett in all its bittersweet glory. Dry and tannic, this is one for the table and not for the pub garden.

Rating: This is a cider of Distinction in the category (Regionally Produced Cider)

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

Simon’s Cider – Browns Medium-dry (2017)- Reviewed

Producer: Simon’s Cider http://simonscider.co.uk
Cider Name: Browns Medium Dry
Region: Cambridgeshire, UK 
ABV: 6.4% 
Taste: Medium Dry, Tannic, Sharp 
Served: Room Temp 
Smell: Fruit and spice 
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Mostly clear with a slight haze 
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: (Regionally Produced Cider) 

Review / Tasting notes:

“Browns brings gentle tannins and a wonderful acidity, bottled as a medium dry this cider is a fantastic example of how good a cider apple can be.”

On pouring, my wife described this as an upside-down sunrise in a glass. A very apt description for this golden still apple cider from Simon’s Cider.

The nose is fruity with plenty of Christmas Spice and clove. Some vanilla and almonds add to this fantastic aroma. Tiny slithers of light pectin give this a raw and full body in the glass with a scrumpy-like quality on the palate.

Upfront tannic bitterness is followed by sharpness and a drying mouthfeel. Furthermore, there is a dirtiness and fullness to the mouthfeel which adds real depth to this exemplary cider.

The presence of acidity lends balance to an already complex flavour. If anything, the sharpness may be a little too sharp for some and some might prefer it if the aftertaste could linger a little longer.

Verdict: Browns Medium Dry is a superb Single Variety cider. We agree with Simon’s assessment that this 2017 vintage is a fine example of just “how good a cider apple can be.”

Rating: This is a cider of distinction in the category (Regionally Produced 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)