Saturday, 1 October 2011

Sheppy's Cider with Honey


OK, so technically this doesn't qualify as cider. Well, thats what HMRC says anyway! Its a made wine. Does that make sense? Well, in actual fact, this is a traditional drink in its own right - called cyser. And for that fact, I think it qualifies for a review (see,I don't go by the labels... although I suspect most people do).

I cannot think of that many producers of cyser these days - the fact that it doesn't qualify as cider under the rules laid down by government means that those who do sell it have to pay something like 3 times as much duty as on cider. So I guess the profits don't add up well enough. However, Sheppy's seem to produce a bit of everything so they are clearly the obvious producers to have a go:-)

I have tried cyser before - in fact, I have even made it before. The honey/cider mix makes for a delicate drink that is anything up to 2% stronger (a lot of sugar in honey!). This one sits at 5.4%, which is fairly weak (I would say) so I guess its gone through the usual processes and been controlled. Lets not judge it before its had a chance though eh!

In colour, this Sheppy's is very light - I have said 'yellow' on the sheet, but its much more light gold than that. The fiz doesn't appear to be very strong (which always makes me happy) and, well, it just looks appetising. This is helped along by a generous cider aroma to it. I cannot really smell honey in it. This is likely due to chemical changes as the honey and cider ferment together. The honey loses a lot of its own characteristics in the process (well, cider doesn't really taste of apple juice normally, does it?) and adds a background flavour to the cider.

I said that almost as if I knew what I was talking about eh! I ought to say that the above is just my opinion and based on my own experience!

The first thing I noted when tasting it was that I was wrong about the fizz dying off - its very much there, but just doesn't look like it. More over though, this is a really nice drink. There is the honey providing sweetness in the background, coupled with a lovely tannic body of cider flavour. These two things pretty much drown out the acid though. Thats not really a problem as it all just works very well together.

The aftertaste is nice and what I was expecting. Going from my own experience (again) it is far too easy to overdo the honey in cyser - that makes it very strong but the honey ends up adding an odd quality. This Sheppy's cyser is well controlled. Enough to add a great charisma to the drink, but not over powering.

If only Sheppy's made a 'full juice' and 'unfiddled' range, I would probably be a huge fan!

It scored 79/100. I nearly pushed it up to 80/100 as I'd have loved it to get Silver - but then I haven't done that yet. I would rather go with my original figures which I feel are the more accurate. Not that it matters really, its all only my opinion. However, if you come across this cider do try it - its definitely different in a good way.

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