Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sheppy's Organic Cider


Another Sheppy's. I thought I had done all of them so either this is a new one or else one that I had failed to notice elsewhere. They are nearly as prolific as Thatchers eh! And this one is an organic. Well, if organic status is good enough for Westons (though they are now getting their organic fruit from the 'Wilde Woode':-), Aspalls and even Marks and Spencers (?!) then it must be good enough for Sheppys!

So, its got the labels and its even got an ingredients list (including the organic sugar and water... shouldn't that be organic water too? :-). Saying that, its all pretty good; the sugar and water means is that the alcohol content has been 'boosted' and then the resulted 'super cider' has been cut back to a given level. Pretty common amongst larger cider producers to be honest and, as far as I can see, is merely to increase the amount of cider made per apple... why not just press more of those organic goodies?? Remember, it could be a lot worse (though sometimes I do just wish...)!

A small political point related to cutting cider (see how easy it is to 'go off on one':-). There is currently pressure is on alcohol producers to i. pay far more tax than is reasonable in the vague hope that it will put a stop to binge drinking and ii. get the alcohol industry to commit to lowering the '% volume by a billion'. Add to this the upcoming 'minimum pricing per unit of alcohol (no, not the %, the amount of units contained) and you will find that many producers simply watering their cider to a lower percentage point. I cannot really blame just  the current government either, it started before them.

The first bit (duty/tax) currently affects beer worse than cider. This is clearly just a 'beer' tax cow for the government and cannot address drinking practices. My wish is that government realise they are killing the industry they are taxing (slowly but surely) and that they would be more honest about what they are trying to achieve (fat chance!) I ought to add to this that there are those within the beer industry (SIBA, in particular) who actively campaign to club cider in with beer under the misguided premise that it will make things fairer. As far as I can have seen, they misrepresent their case and often stretch their points to breaking point of logic. It is true that there is a difference in the two duties (thoough NOT to the degree that SIBA suggest). It is also true that the two drinks are entirely different (beer = brewed with lots of ingredients and processes and can be done constantly thoughout the year; cider = made from apples with simple ingredients and processes. Clobbering cider does not give beer a fair deal - beer ought to be able to get a fair deal for itself on its own merits. I would put one caveat - if they are after 'industrially' produced/white ciders - which have little to do with the slow/simple processes of full juice cider, then I can start to see some of their point.

The second bit (reduction in %) AND the third bit (minimum pricing) is that apples on their own gives a certain % alcohol. Although this can differ every year, and you can blend the varieties to lower the % there is only so much you can naturally do this. All things considered I would still expect to see a cider at about 5-6% even if its been controlled. The only way to reduce alcohol further is to cut the cider. Let me illustrate this: to reduce a 6% cider to 4% (i.e. 2% out of the billion) a producer needs to add about 34% water. As a producer, that is 34% more cider, but it's now 66% max juice content which will affect the taste and body. This can be chemically adjusted... down the slippery slope we go.I very much doubt that high end cider is responsible for binge drinking - I would suggest that has more to do with lagers, cheap wines, cheap spirits and white cider... oh, and of course all those promotions from supermarkets.

But then, the groups who make said tat and sell at low price are a far larger and more effective lobbying group than small brewers and traditional cidermakers.Why can't we just serve smaller measures and maintain the correct strength without the adulteration? Maybe as a nation we just aren't responsible enough!

Oh well, that has really taken up far too much space and run coach and horses through this review! Sorry Sheppy's, I ought to get back to the review eh!


Organic pours out golden and moderately fizzy. I have actually chilled this bottle (it says on the instructions - and I always follow the instructions... not!) I actually chilled it as I was expecting it to be fairly sweet. Mr Assumptions at the moment I am! It smells nicely tannic and cidery and the taste is deep and tannic. not a bad acidity to it as well - although the taste is somewhat short. Really quite pleasant with plenty of fruity apples going around in it.

The aftertasteis more of the same. Very well balanced and just a bit short on the length. It is as fairly sweet cider although my notes don't make a big thing of that (usually a sign that its too sweet). On sweetness, I seem to be coming across a few of these lately and I am still not swayed by it - it reduces the character and taste in a cider.

I am sure this cider is all the better for the organic badges:-) But then I am not sold by the organic badges. In its own right it is not a bad cider at all though maybe a little short in the mouth overall. For all that it scores a bronze apple at 73/100



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