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 – Fox, Dog, Cat – Reviewed

Producer:  Pilton Cider http://www.piltoncider.com/products/foxdogcat
Available at: https://orchardexplorers.club/pilton-cider-fox-dog-cat
Cider Name: Fox, Dog, Cat – Season 2020 – Episode 1
Region: Somerset, Uk
ABV:5.5%
Taste: Bittersweet, Smoky, Biscuity
Served:  750ml Bottle Room Temperature
Smell: Kiwi, Passionfruit, Smokiness, Funk
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Crystal Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“A super-smooth blend of mature Jonagold, with just a touch of funk and a dash of smoke on the finish; sweetened with our classic bittersweet keeved cider.”

Pilton Cider is renowned for the quality of their keeved ciders and this is simply stunning. The selection of the sharper mature Jonagold apples to balance the keeved bittersweets in this blend works very well.

The aroma is fabulous. There are notes of kiwi and passionfruit in the nose and the keeved cider smells typically sweet.

On the palate, there is plenty of upfront sweetness, acidity, and a touch of bitterness. There is a smokiness to the finish that isn’t overpowering at all, like some. There is a biscuity taste to the finish too. The aftertaste lingers alongside a drying mouthfeel.

Verdict:

From the wonderfully unique label to the stunning clarity of the cider presentation, this is cider making at its very best. Beautifully balanced and idiosyncratic enough to be memorable on the palate.

Rating: This is a Silver Award Winner 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)

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 – 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)

Healey’s Cyder – Rattler Original – Reviewed

Producer: Healey’s https://healeyscyder.co.uk/
Cider Name: Rattler Original
Region: Cornwall, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Sharp, crisp, dry and acidic finish, hint of pear and pineapple
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly Chilled)
Smell: Fresh Apple, pineapple, pear
Colour: Straw
Clarity: Cloudy
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling
Award Category: Mainstream Apple Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Named after the feisty Cornish Rattler Apple and blended with Healey’s know-how, Rattler Cyder has a crisp, fresh flavour.”

An aroma of crisp apple with pear and pineapple is pleasant and appealing. The upfront taste is a sharp hit of acidic apple that fizzes briefly before pineapple and pear notes add a little sweetness to this dry cider. The mouthfeel is drying and doesn’t last for long, inviting another sip. After a while though, the aftertaste becomes a little sour.

The balance of the cider is just a little too acidic and on the sharp side for some. Clearly designed to be a crisp and fresh cider, it lacks in other areas.

Verdict: An enjoyable and refreshing cider with interesting tones of pineapple and pear. The aftertaste is a little astringent.

Rating: Respectable* (Mainstream Apple Cider)

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

*A ‘respectable’ ranking means that the cider has met the minimum standards of the reviewers on goodciderguide.com for its category. In this case ‘mainstream cider’. Therefore, this is considered to be a good quality mainstream cider.

Cornish Orchards – Gold – Reviewed

Producer: Cornish Orchards

https://www.cornishorchards.co.uk/

Cider Name: Cornish Orchard Gold

Region: Liskeard, Cornwall

ABV: 5%

Taste: Fruity Apple Tones, Crisp and Dry

Served: 500ml Bottle (Chilled)

Smell: Sweet Apple

Colour: Gold

Clarity: Clear

Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes

“An immensely refreshing cider, lightly sparkling, with fruity apple tones and a long dry finish”

This is as refreshing to drink as it looks in the bottle.  Desert and bittersweet apples immediately come to the fore, followed by a satisfying, morish, dry finish.

Verdict

An excellent cider, delivering on smell, taste and refreshment with a satisfying dry finish that will tempt you to open another bottle.

Rating: TBC

Ranking: TBC (01/07/21)

Dudda’s Tun – Original – Reviewed

Producer: Dudda’s Tun https://duddastuncider.com/
Cider Name: Original (Season 2018)
Region: Kent, Uk
ABV: 6.5%
Taste: Smooth, lingering, well-balanced
Served: 500ml bottle (chilled)
Smell: Mellow apple aroma
Colour: Clear, golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still

Review / Tasting notes

“A smooth blend of Russet, Cox and Bramley, this refined medium cider is packed full of flavour.”

‘Original’ is the most complex and traditional of all the Dudda’s Tun ciders tested so far. At 6.5% it packs more punch than others in the range. Our tasters agreed that the aroma was a mellow apple with honey undertones. Upfront sweetness is replaced quickly by bitterness; the after-taste is smooth, if a tiny bit acidic. The description of the cider as ‘still’ is a little misleading. We found this to be lightly carbonated on pouring, probably due to prolonged secondary fermentation (2018 season).

Verdict: Complex and traditional. Well-balanced and smooth for a cider at 6.5%.

Rating: 7.1

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

Dudda’s Tun – Greenhorn – Reviewed

Producer: Dudda’s Tun https://duddastuncider.com/
Cider Name: Greenhorn
Region: Kent, Uk
ABV: 5.2%
Taste: Crisp green apple
Served: 500ml bottle (chilled)
Smell: Fresh
Colour: Clear, pale gold
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“A lightly sparkling medium cider, with crisp and refreshing green undertones”

Refreshingly understated, Greenhorn places the green apple front and centre. Low in Tannins and acidity. it’s fair to say that there is not much going on here to excite the tasters. What Greenhorn lacks in complexity, it makes up for in balance. Upfront sweetness is replaced with a medium dryness and crisp mouthfeel.

Verdict: Refreshingly simple. A crisp cider that places green apples at the forefront. Not a high scorer and unlikely to threaten the Top 100. Well balanced.

Rating: 6.1

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