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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)