Tuesday, 16 August 2011

West Croft Janets Jungle Juice (GBBF)

You may have noticed that there is an absense of alcoholic strength on these Great British Beer Festival reviews. Not entirely sure why, but this information wasn't either published or put on the polipin labels. I guess I could have asked, but then I suspect its a device to stop people from just ordering the strongest ciders. A good idea (if that is the reason) although it does go to show how daft some people are. Whether you go for a 6.5% or a 7.5% cider, its pretty much going to have the same effect... and if that is the only reason someone drinks a particular cider then they have a lot to learn about cider!

In part, that is why I started blogging publically instead of just keeping it to myself. If just one person can see these ramblings and explore different ciders then the job is done. If someone can move from an industrial alcopop type of cider (cider in its very loosest sense) to something more sophisticated and honest, then job is an absolute goodun.

OK. Moving on. This next cider was my 5th cider. Yes, there had to be a point at which reviewing cider got too tricky, but as the GBBF sold cider by the 3rd as well as the more traditional half or pint, it lent itself to trying a lot of ciders. In fact, I think I reviewed 6 before I decided to stop and just... well.. enjoyed a few more:-)

West Croft's 'Janets Jungle Juice' is a festival favourite. I don't come across it that often, but it was certainly at the Winter Festival and a few others that I have been to. I must admit, I have only tried it once before now but seem to recall enjoying it. Not only is it popular, its award winning too - being voted CAMRA's 2007 champion cider. A Somerset Cider Maker who has done big things.

Well, it smells full of fruit. Doh. That sounds very dumb, but it isn't true of all ciders - not even full juice ciders. Its nicely golden with a little haze to it which suggests no filtering or mucking around. Don't you just love full jucie, simple cider?!?!

Now, to the taste. Its not exactly straightforward. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with it technically - the fruitiness in the smell is followed through with a rich taste, a strong tannic body and a hefty bit of alcohol to it. Its pretty bloomin sweet for a dry/medium dry cider. There is little acid to offset this, so it could just be that its all made bare with the tannin. However, it does feel as though the sweetness is there to cover some of the dryness.

Two of us were trying Jungle Juice and my friends first reaction was 'vinegary'. He could be pardoned for this as, although I don't agree with it being vinegary, there is an odd taste to it. Before I could describe it, I simply wrote down 'almost chemically??'. On discussion, we developed that (with the aid of a third person) to 'petroleumish' (don't you just liove the technical descriptions... I bet there are some reviewers who would be plain jealous at our abuse of the English language!!). On reflection, I wonder if it wasn't kept in a flavoured cask - rum or whisky which imparted the odd flavour. It did detract from the enjoyment for me though.

For those considering Janet's Jungle Juice - go for it. It is a good cider - I just think my one was one of those batches that others just won't get (depending on what Mr West Croft stores the rest of his cider in...)

It scored 73/100. It should have got a silver... but it got a bronze.


  1. Hi, I have just discovered your blog today and I must say I'm impressed! I did not think a site like this existed so I need to thank Dormin87 for mentioning your blog in his latest review.

    Janets Jungle Juice I first tried about 3 years ago, think I heard about it from a cookery programme so I ordered some by post and 5 litres arrived the following week. I remember it being orange and cloudy to look at and being intensely fruity to taste. Loved it! I remember my dad remarking on the 'chemically' taste you discussed, he thought it tasted somewhat medicinal, like dettol I believe! :P
    The following year at Christmas my mum bought me a 20 litre bag in a box for Christmas. This was a completely different tasting cider. Still enjoyed it, but it had a much harsher taste, much more tannic and a slight vinegar tang. It was disappointing, but when you have 20 litres to get through, you soon ignore any issues :P
    This summer I went to bristol and made a visit to the bristol cider shop where they had a box of JJJ behind the till, we had a taste and the guy that runs the shop also remarked that year on year it never tastes the same. Still a nice drop though :)

  2. Thanks for the comments Andy.

    I think all traditionally made cider will taste different from year to year - differing varieties available, different fermentation temperatures (etc. etc.). However, maintaining a standard is quite important so I am sad to hear that it differs that much.

    I guess it just means that I will have to try it again though!!


  3. Its very nice this year. And watch out - very strong

  4. Will have to watch out for it at a festival.

    Thanks for the heads up!