Crumpton Oaks – Apple Cider – Reviewed

Producer:  Crumpton Oaks http://crumptonoaks.co.uk
Cider Name: Apple Cider
Region: Malvern Hills
ABV:5
Taste: Medium
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Fruity Apple
Colour: Golden Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Our award winning crisp and refreshing golden apple cider. Full of fruity flavour from the finest bittersweet apples harvested from our orchard family and balanced with dessert apples for a perfect medium taste and crisp finish.”

This is the cheapest cider that has been tasted and reviewed though in some areas it punches above it’s weight.  Aroma is nice enough, it has a nice golden amber colour and the taste is pleasant though won’t set the world on fire.  Though it is cheap for a reason and the biggest reason is that the added sugar and sweeteners are very evident and whilst providing a level of sweetness, it is not the fresh, pleasant sweetness provided by the more natural apple sweetness present in some more expensive ciders.

Verdict:

For 85p for the bottle, you can forgive this cider for some faults.  The aroma is nice, it tastes pleasant enough and you could enjoy a few of these on the kind of hot day being experienced as this is being written.  In terms of those faults, the added sugars and sweeteners are very evident in the taste and after-taste as you are left with a sugary coating in your mouth.  It is also on the watery side and whilst sweet, this is from the added sugars and sweetener which over power the actual apples.

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

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

Ross-on-Wye – Foxwhelp – Reviewed

Producer:  Ross-on-Wye http://rosscider.com
Cider Name: Fowhelp (2021 – Pressed 2019)
Region: Herefordshire
ABV:6.0
Taste: Bittersharp and Acidic
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Fruity, citrus
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Foxwhelp must surely be the most iconic cider apple: a lovely fruity aroma leads immediately into a burst of acidity that has sharpness, intensity and depth like no other variety can offer.”

This is not for the faint-hearted at all. Imagine you are sucking on an alcoholic lemon that tastes of apples…that’s Foxwhelp!

In our opinion, Ross sets the standard for single variety cider and perry. Foxwhelp looks fabulous in the glass: golden and clear with a buttery shine. The aroma is mostly fruity, a little phenolic, and a little citrus.

On the palate, Foxwhelp is like no other. Upfront bittersharp turns to sour acidity on the tongue leaving a lemony aftertaste that lingers pleasantly for an age.

Verdict:

This is an extremely challenging cider for most but highly rewarding for those who can rise to the challenge at least once to appreciate the complexity, intensity, and acidity of this iconic apple.

Rating: This is a Good Cider in the category (Craft Cider SV)

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)

Sam’s Cider – Poundhouse Crisp – Reviewed

Producer: The Winkleigh Cider Company https://winkleighcider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Sam’s Cider – Poundhouse Crisp
Region: Devon
ABV: 4.5%
Taste: Medium Sweet
Served: 500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Rich Apples
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Gently Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes

“Our Sam’s Poundhouse Cider is a clean and crisp refreshing cider.  A real thirst quencher.  Made using only locally sourced Devon apples.  Fermented and matured in our 100-year-old oak vats.”

Poundhouse Crisp is a very good description for this cider.  Straight away you are hit with the crisp smell of rich apples followed by a clean, crisp taste which gently fades leaving a pleasantly sweet aftertaste after a hit of acidity.

Verdict

Clean.  Tick.  Crisp. Tick.  Refreshing. Tick. This cider provides the same sensation in your mouth as your body experiences when climbing into a bed with a fresh, clean, crisp set of new sheets on it.  If there is one minor fault, it is that the sensation does not last as long as you would like [like Stefan’s clean sheets! – Ed.].

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

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

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)

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)

Orchard Pig – Reveller – Reviewed

Producer: Orchard Pig https://orchardpig.co.uk/
Cider Name: Reveller
Region: Somerset, UK 
ABV: 4.5% 
Taste: Medium
Served: 500ml Bottle (Chilled) 
Smell: Fresh
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling
Award Category: (Mainstream Apple Cider)

Review / Tasting notes:

“Reveller has a generous apple aroma, drawing you into a crisp, refreshing cider with a tangy note of freshly squeezed lime in the finish.”

A celebration of somerset, snort in the hearty aroma of west country cider apples – a crisp refreshing and lightly sparkling cider with a tangy note of freshly squeezed lime. 

Verdict:

What starts well, with a fine aroma, disappoints with the lack of crisp apple flavour.  The taste is overpowered by the lime.  If you like that citrus flavour this cider will be right up your street, if not you may well be unsatisfied. Although this is not a particularly good cider, it is very drinkable. Great for the pub garden but not recognized as a particularly good cider by the good cider guide critics.

Rating: This is not a particularly Good Cider in the category (Mainstream Apple Cider)

Ranking: To be announced on The Good Cider Guide website goodciderguide.com (01/07/2021)