Monday, 4 June 2012
Hallets Real Cider
Like all the best things, whilst there are a few mass market products that seem to ubiquitously stretch from coast to coast in the UK there are many more smaller producers who want to produce individual and unique products that need to be hunted down. I think Hallets is one of these - I have heard about them for some time although never actually got to try any. And so, thanks to the dealings of the Bristol Cider Shop I now have a bottle in front of me.
The first thing to say about Hallets is that they are Welsh. Somewhere near to Newport/Caerphilly judging by their address... so they are Southern Welsh. Better be nice to them then;-) I like the bottle, its a professional look and I am particularly fond of the 'Beautifully Simple' strapline at the bottom. It sums up the art of cidermaking really. Why go through all the processes when an astounding product can be made from few ingredients and a lot of expertise/knowhow?
The ingredients are all I expect from this kind of cider too - apples and a bit of sulphites. Whilst ingredients labelling is not a necessity for alcoholic drinks currently (I say currently in a hopeful way, although until the wine producers of the EU choose to play ball there is little hope) it is nice to see it on a bottle. It also says it may contain natural yeast too, which does build up my expectation for a slightly hazy, gently produced cider inside. One comment - I am fairly ambivilant about the 'selected apples' terminology... what, every apple? Hmmm... I think I am being a bit daft on this, but it always makes my smile fade a little.
Now, on pouring this is a darkly golden cider with a hell of a fizz. This dies down to a moderate sparkle which glints in the super bright cider. It does look extremely polished and clean, but its a bit like asking for a crunchy apple... I want an apple that has flavour - crunch does not = quality. It is actually the same with cider. Sparkling bright cider simply means filtered to me - and that is only very rarely going to improve the taste... if its an extremely tannic cider for example. So, this has been through some commercial processes then. Lets see what it has done to the cider.
The smell is deep and fruity - a western tannic smell that is really lovely. I have noted 'rich' so that indicates how deep this smell is. Very nice. The taste is where it all lies though - and it is bittersweet. Not a lot of acid, but plenty of fruit and again it is rich. I reckon its got a moderate to fairly high tannin and its well balanced and blended. I do note that its been sweetened. I know this is a little 'reckoned' though - there is nothing on the bottle about sweetness - but I would put this cider as a medium - medium/dry with the emphasis on medium. This is probably what is killing any acid in the cider, as it is there but right in the background.
The aftertaste is quite short. It is full of tannin and fruit again though. I like this cider... though I have answered my own questions about the effects of the commercial processing its been through. Its been heavily filtered and sweetened - I cannot comment on whether it is pasteurisedas that is near enough impossible to detect and would probably depend on whether they sweeten with sugar. I expect this is to appeal to the mass market and I cannot blame them. However, it has hit the cider back a bit from being great.
With a decent score of 77/100, Hallets earn a bronze from me. Knowing that they do have their fans, I would like to add that this is my own opinion! Still, it is a lesson in processes (he says, noticing what he wrote at the start!!)