There is so much to say about this cider. First off, I have to take my hat off to Sheppy's who seem to produce every variant of cider that they possibly can!
Falstaff, as it say on the bottle, is a cultivar of James Grieve - a cooking apple albeit a very early cooking apple that turns into an eater if left on the tree long enough. So there should be plenty of acid going on - but not so much that a Bramley comes to mind.
This should really be a very light cider - possibly fairly strong (which it is) but with little tannin. Come on - thing of the last time you took a bit of a cooking apple and grimaced for the tannin in it? What does tannin taste like? Well, think of a cup of tea... preferably black tea, that has stewed a bit. The mouth drying, dry taste is partly (well, I think quite a lot) to do with the level of tannin.
So, lets get on to the Sheppy's version of Falstaff. It is very light. Straw sums it up very well. A low carbonation to it. And the aroma is very light. All good. A bit of sulphite (not very much, but its there). Its also a fairly fruity smell too. Nice. And different too.
The taste is a bit at odds with the smell. It doesn't taste 'out there', but its a little bit dummed down too. Well, that is a bit unfair. Actually, its a lot unfair. This cider needs to be thought about when its drunk. Too many of the ciders I have bought are quaffing ciders - strong but not much going on behind it. Less are the ciders that actually require you to stop and contemplate the taste. This is one that is worth doing just that.
There is plenty of acid in it, but gently so (not something that can be said about many 'acids'). Not much tannin there ... which is absolutely spot on for this style. I think it has been rebalanced a bit, which is probably a good thing (and I am not against cheating as long as it is context with the drink).
The aftertaste is pretty acidic and eastern - though a little more balanced . Yum. I would definitely have this one on my desert island list.
I am please to say that I would recommend this one as worth a try. If you like Aspells, you will like this cider. At 81/100, its got itself a Silver Apple from me:-)