Cranbourne Chase – The Whitewigs – Reviewed

Producer:  Cranbourne Chase Cider http://www.cranbournechasecider.co.uk
Cider Name: The Whitewigs
Region: Dorset
ABV:6.0
Taste: Sweet
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Sweet Apple
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Enriched by our own Dorset Apples, our crafted ciders reveal delightful, refreshing fruitiness, coldly fermented exposing their natural yeast and sugars.”

Sweet apples greet you as you open the bottle and this aroma remains as it settles into the glass.  However, the sweet apples are not evident in the taste which, whilst refreshing, is quite watery.  It is clear the sugars are present, not so much in the taste which has a faint sweetness, much more so in the aftertaste.

Verdict:

This is an easy-drinking, clean, crisp cider with a small hit of sweetness.  It lacks depth, as there is little apple fruitiness to be found, having more in common with a weak apple cordial.  It also leaves a sugary aftertaste that coats your teeth and mouth.

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

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

Gwatkin – Game Cock Cider – Reviewed

Producer:  Gwatkin https://gwatkincider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Game Cock Cider
Region: Herefordshire
ABV:4.5
Taste: Sweet
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Sweet Apple
Colour: Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still

Review / Tasting notes

“The game cock cider, like the bird, is handy and dauntless in character and won’t take long to rustle your feathers.  Your only instinct is to try the plucky sweet cider that mates well with the game of the land.”

Aroma of sweet, mellow apples will gently glide your way as you pour this into your glass.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that whilst the sweet apples get top billing, this cider is a little more complex with a touch of honey giving way to cinnamon spiciness.

Verdict:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and you won’t be disappointed to have this as your cider in hand.  It is a rather pheasant, sweet, still cider with a nice hit of warm, woody spice nesting in the taste.

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

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)

Temple Cider – Whiskey Barrel Aged – Reviewed

Producer: Temple Cider https://www.templecider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Whiskey Barrel Aged
Region: Dorset, Uk
ABV: 6.5%
Taste: Smooth and Earthy, Whiskey, orange peel
Served: 500ml bottle (Room temperature)
Smell: Apple, citrus orange
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: Craft Cider (Apple)

Review / Tasting notes

“Our Whiskey Barrel Aged Dorset craft cider is made from the same traditional bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples as Milo’s Magic, but combined in a slightly different blend. It was carefully aged in whiskey barrels for 3 months and is a smooth, dry cider with a subtle but distinctive whiskey finish. This cider is proving extremely popular!”

This is another very smooth, beautifully presented craft blend from Temple Cider. Floral notes and citrus orange engage the senses in both the nose and on the palate. The whiskey flavour is subtle enough to add to the blend without overpowering the quality of the cider. Some might say that this cider lacks in acidity and that the fruit is lost but that would be missing the point. This is soft and subtle. Infused beautifully with Whiskey and oak from the barrel – this cider doesn’t demand to be heard; it whispers softly in your ear.

The mouthfeel is typically (for Temple Cider) smooth and warming.

Verdict: This is another excellent craft cider from Temple. We can fully appreciate why Whiskey Barrel Aged is proving popular with customers.

Rating: A very good craft cider (Craft Cider – Apple)

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)

Oliver’s Vintage Fine Cider (Dry, Season 2018) – Reviewed

Producer: Oliver’s https://www.oliversciderandperry.co.uk/
Cider Name: Vintage Fine Cider (Dry, Season 2018)
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV: 8.4%
Taste: Burnt Oak, Vanilla, blue cheese
Served: 750ml bottle (Cool room temperature)
Smell: Oak
Colour: Dark Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still

Review / Tasting notes

“Still, dry cider matured in a vanilla oak cask for 18 or more months. Plum pudding nose, rich burnished colour and full of apple skins, autumnal orchard floor and the old oak barn, got a touch of blue cheese too.”

The high alcohol content of this vintage cider allied by the subtlety of it’s oak barrel-infused flavours, makes this a cider for only the most discerning of palates. Whilst we enjoyed the subtlety of the flavours, we found the fruit taste to be overwhelmed and almost lost.

The up-front bitterness is replaced by smoky burnt oak and vanilla. Smooth and full-bodied, this feels more like an after dinner spirit than a cider. The after taste doesn’t really linger long enough to savour the flavours.

Verdict: This is a mature and very dry cider. It is full of intriguing subtle notes and high in alcohol content (for a cider). We found it a little too subtle and lacking in fruit flavour to score well.

Rating: 4.9

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

Lilleys Cider – Crazy Goat – Reviewed

Producer: Lilley’s Cider https://www.lilleyscider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Crazy Goat
Region: Somerset, Uk
ABV: 6.8%%
Taste: Sweetened Pyder
Served: 500ml bottle (Room Temperature)
Smell: Pear, Apple
Colour: Hazy Yellow, golden
Clarity: Cloudy
Carbonation: Still

Review / Tasting notes

“A medium sweet mix of a cider and perry, hazy yellow/golden cloudy cider. This has been expertly blended to give a mouth watering, juicy flavour and deceptive in it’s taste for the strength”

Crazy Goat is to cider what a squash drink is to freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s not that it isn’t nice to drink…it just isn’t that high in cider/perry quality.

The overwhelming taste in Crazy Goat is the artificial sweetener and chemical sulphites. This is rather unpleasant and detracts from the more pleasing blend of apple and pear on offer.

Verdict: A pyder that looks good in the bottle but delivers little on the palate.

 Rating: 5.25

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