Sunday, 18 December 2011
Waitrose Heston's Spiced Mulled Cider
Mulled cider is generally something that you make, but feeling in the festive spirit I have been keeping my eye out for a bottled version to add to my reviews. And I have found one! In truth, we shall see what it's like - I find some of Heston Blumenthal's output great, and some is decidedly not in my universe.
To prepare this cider, you have to warm it. So, being careful not to let it boil, 4 of us are going to give it a go. Hang on - just checking the label, it says "... great served warm or perfectly refreshing over ice." Are they quite insane? I truly hope that this is being ironic and not a serious suggestion!
Now it is warmed up, lets see what we have. It didn't have a huge aroma prior to warming, but now it has a warming spicy smell. Sadly, this isn't backed up by a huge cider flavour; the spices do tend to dominate. It tastes warming and lovely though. After a while (and maybe it has cooled a bit) there are cider flavours coming through, although very definitely as a background feature to the mulling spices which run the show from beginning to end. This is a bit of a shame, as the cider does have a role to play too in mulled cider. Oh, and forget the 'oak matured' bit - that is lost with the rest of it.
The aftertaste is all spice too. I guess this is the same for mulled wine too - the liquid is often drowned out and its all about the spice (clove, cinnamon and ginger in here).
I am sure the cider will score differently for me, depending on whether you are drinking it properly warmed or trendily over ice - I am not sure how warming it would at a cold wassail with ice! Warm it scores 71/100, so a hot bronze apple for Hestons Mulled Cider.
Now. For those of us who would prefer to do it properly, I have included a recipe for mulled cider (I believe my scrappy piece of paper is from BBC recipes, so thanks to them):
First off, find a decent flat cider which has some good flavours going for it. Ideally, if you are buying this, you will find a dry, still cider without filtering would be ideal direct from a producer. If you are having to buy in a supermarket - well, why not search through the reviews here to find one - Henney's, a vintage Sheppy's or even Westons would do (if it has bubbles, then probably best to let these get out of the way first). As with many things, mulled cider is a sum of its parts and if you put rubbish in, you will get rubbish out.
For myself, I tend to use the last of my cider to mull. Generally this will be from the bottom of the barrel and be a bit yeasty - it all adds to the flavour. I don't like to use early cider though as this hasn't developed or matured enough (and at this time of year should be being left alone to finish fermenting!).
For this recipe, you need about 2 litres of cider (or you could use apple wine).
Now, for the mulling spices:
Presuming you are doing this with guests, stud a couple of apples with cloves all over. Also, get hold of 4-6 cinnamon sticks and 5-6 allspice berries (or a couple of teaspoons of allspice).
Now zest an orange (I also generally squeeze half the orange in too). Finally (if you want) splash in some dark rum. There are other things that work as mulling spices - a stick of ginger adds a bit of a kick (and the odd chilli can add some heat to the drink too).
Let this warm through over a low heat but don't allow it to boil. I expect it should take about 20 minutes or so. And hey presto - mulled cider without paying Waitrose prices:-)
Have a fantastic festive period!
All the best from Cider Pages