Sunday 21 August 2011

Aspalls Imperial 2010 Vintage Cyder

I am not normally one to rush out and buy something 'cos its new. But when I was sent out to pick up some goodies from Sainsbury's earlier I couldn't resist having a peek to see if the new Aspall's cyder was in. As it was (well, I wouldn't be reviewing it here yet if it wasn't!!) I thought I would share my thoughts.

I like the bottle. It has quite a stylish colour (and I have always thought the Aspalls bottle shape is stylish). Of course you cannot see the liquid inside clearly enough, so I will just have to pour it out to see if the drink is as stylish as its marketing:-)

This cyder is meant to be produced to the same 'recipe' as the Aspalls 1921 award winning cyder. Hmm, I suppose ciders do have a recipe of sorts - which apple varieties to use. However, its not ale... its not really a recipe that can be controlled very much by the cyder maker. Still, if they want to call it a recipe then who am I to argue (well, I 'spose I would argue, just because I can - but I guess that doesn't make anyone right or wrong).

At 8.2% its all your recommended daily allowance of booze, so I am not sure if its one that is meant to be shared. Mine wasn't but, hey, some of us like to live on the wild side occasionally!

The Imperial is very different from any other cyder Aspall has available. You can tell this by simply filling your glass. It is a deep golden colour and smells all Western style with a full tannic nose. The moderately foamy carbonation is still there though, so at least that is the same as the others. But it almost glows - is the bittersweet going to turn out to be Yarlington Mill by any chance. Yarlington does produce an almost reddy golden cyder, which this is. Mind, I guess it could just as easily be something like Dabinett, although this produces a more brown style of cyder.

OK. First taste. Yum yum yum. My initial thoughts are that this cyder is clearly produced with the same quality that several of their other cyders have going for them. There is also a huge confirmation that this is very different from any other Aspall. It tastes western. I guess this is a bit of a knock back for me, as I see Aspall as being the main provider of eastern style cyders. But why on earth should I think that - Aspall can make what Aspall want to make. Its up to the rest of us (punters) to make the judgement on what we think of the cyder itself.

It is a fairly thick cyder - almost syruppy but not quite. Its clear as a bell, so its been through the usual pasteurisation/carbonation process that all Aspall's seem to go through these days. The carbonation dies after a little while to perform its background duties pretty well - lifting the tannins and sweetening the cyder a little. But this cyder is bordering on the outstanding. It is really very nice indeed.

Although it is different, you can still taste the acid clearly in the background - Premier Cru in style (i.e. pretty good acid) the acid doesn't overtake the tannin but seems to be singing its own song (like the use of poetry here:-) The aftertaste is fairly long and rich. I could drink this all over again!

I admit that I do have a bit of a soft spot for Aspalls. I think its a shame that they don't produce more traditional versions of their cyders - you know, truely unfiltered and unpasteurised. But then, I guess that isn't cost effective. Which is a shame. But what a nice new cyder!

It scored 80/100 which gives it (I think) their first silver apple.


  1. For me, this is the best Cyder available to mankind. Thank you Aspall... Ive had to single handedly clean out Sainsburys of ALL bottles shelved many times I visit. Sorry Notting Hill.. its just gorgeous bittersweat oaky Apples with a hint of caramelised sugar. GORGEOUS rich finish with a payload that makes it to me Champaign class Cider.. and Ive been drinking cider all my life and think beer is nonsense by comparison

  2. I like this a lot because it does have that fuller body, bittersweet, with a nice amount of rich golden brown sugar flavours. In past years they mentioned that they add sugar, but on the 2012 vintage they don't say that - so maybe they've stopped doing it. I think it comes down to personal taste whether you opt (choosing from supermarket ciders) for this, Westons (thinner, dryer but still very nice) or Hennys (a little too dry for me but probably the purest of the lot). But I prefer Aspalls and this 2012 one retains a good amount of complexity and really is deceptively strong at 8.2%.