Tuesday 27 March 2012

Marks and Spencer Somerset Traditional Cider

Another Marks and Spencers - another Thatchers cider. I think they must make more cider for other people than for themselves. Yep, I know this is a common comment on Thatchers reviews, but I keep finding them under different names... so its worth repeating!

What is it about green bottles? I must have been spoiled with ciders in clear bottles. I like clear glass - you can see the golden/yellow and in one case orange glow of the cider without having to open it. Not so with green glass - its impossible to tell until its in the glass. Not that this cider was ever going to be anything other than golden and highly sparkling!

Now. Here is a thing. Occasionally, mainly on a full juice cider, you will find an ingredients list. But a cider from a major cidermaker??? A cider from a supermarket??? Fascinating! And, because its there, I can list it on here:-) This is not to criticise Thatchers or M and S - I ought to really award extra points for the transparency and honesty! Very brave! I think its worth listing as there is very little other opportunity to do so.

So. The biggest component... apple juice from concentrate. Next... Water. Then we have glucose syrup (not natural to apples), fructose syrup (more natural to apples), malic acid, Co2 and sulphites. Lastly, we have yeast. I could write an essay about this. I won't do that though as its a review and not an essay. OK, I may do a little bit...

First off, just because its made from concentrate does not always mean 'Chinese concentrate'. Often producers press apples and then concentrate for storage. The apple pressing season lasts 4 months at most in the UK, so the largest producers concentrate to store for making into cider later. They only have so much storage space eh. Is it the same once reconstituted? How much water is involved in that process and what percentage juice is a result of its reconstitution? (and don't forget that the water used in reconstitution of concentrate is not generally the same as the water used subsequently) Is this then chemically adjusted? OK, there is no space to answer any of this here. I jsut wanted to make the point that it is not necessarily bad.

Next, one could comment on the use of sugar. But then that may be also unfair - lots of large producers up the alcohol level of their cider - it makes more cider (that's maybe why the second largest part is water - its used to bring the alcohol level down to 5.5%).  And then malic acid is used to balance the cider out. The UK legal minimum juice content is 35%... most are a fair bit higher than that although do remember that a full juice cider would be greater than 85%. Also, if its reconstituted, the 35% is an even muddier concept!

I guess the most I would say (by way of pinning my colours to the mast) is that once you start on the road away from using just apple juice, you end up having to use more and more chemicals and rubbish to correct and 'bring back' the cider. At some point it stops being traditionally made and starts becoming a mere commodity. But then, that is modern industry and economics for you.

Now, I suspect I ought to review the cider now! Apologies to both Marks and Thatchers for riding roughshod over the review (though I guess they probably don't care).

As expected, this cider is a golden cider with a fairly high carbonation. Although the aroma is faint, it smells of both juice and toffee apple (and west country cider too). Its pleasant to look at and once the bubbles have subsided, which takes a while, its a good drink.

There is some tannin to this cider. There is a bit of acid too. In fact it is well balanced and a little character to suit it. I have to say it is a bit safe... though remember I tried the cider and wrote the comments about it before going on to write this and comment on labels etc. If anything, I do have another cider in mind when I drink this... yup, Green Goblin.

It has a short aftertaste which is as balanced as the cider itself. Don't get me wrong, it has a body to it. The aftertaste fades into an apple juice taste (though, in the spirit of a balanced cider its not particularly or overly juicy).

I think this is a cider that is for the masses. As Marks and Spencers only sell a very limited range of cider (and certainly not other brands generally) there is a place for a Green Goblin-esque cider from Thatchers in there. It has a character to it and is very drinkable.

A score of 65/100

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