Thursday, 9 August 2012

Wilkins Farmhouse Dry Cider


The first of a few reviews as a consequence of spending the night in London. I took the opportunity to persuade my companion for the evening that it was in his interest to broaden his 'cider' horizon (though he spent most of the time on Ale... northerners:-) And I am very glad I did.

The pubs that came most highly recommended turned out to be the 'Bree Louise' and the Euston Cider Tap - both in Euston. Well, the Bree Louise is in a little side street near to the station (Coburg Street for those who will now go a-hunting), so as I have been to the Cider Tap before we thought we would start there.

If you are after a gastro pub, or something modern and themed, its not that. The decor is pretty traditional and the carpets are ever so slightly sticky underfoot... which is not really such a bad thing unless the pub is dodgy - which the Bree Louise certainly isn't! The choice of ales and cider on offer are really quite an inspiration. 9 real ciders (and I didn't bother counting the ales) sold out of bag in boxes in a special 'cider' area of the bar! At the time I visited these were mostly from Wilkins and Millwhites. So, to sum up, it is quite simply a good and honest pub with little pretense and a decent cider or 9. There is a catch though - I believe its in the way of the proposer HS2 rail route... not fair is it (perhaps its something that the local CAMRA branch can take up!)

Anyway, clearly the first cider I went for had to be a dry - and there were a few on offer. The first barman figured he should test me to see if I would like a Magners... hmmm. It was done in the nicest possible way but once I had found the bag in box labels it was quickly dropped. At the time I couldn't remember if I had reviewed a Wilkins cider before when ordering. I haven't, so its about blooming time! So, first up, Wilkins Dry Farmhouse cider.

This cider is not filtered - its a hazy/clear glass of golden-ness. Being from a bag in box it is also nicely still and flat (bag in boxes don't do very well under pressure!). This does limit the aroma somewhat, although what I got is a lot of wood. I would guess Roger Wilkins uses oak barrels  - mind you as a typical 'old school' cider maker he is bound to. However, it really over runs on the smell.

The taste has more wood in it - but the cider itself is lovely. Sure, the wood gets in the way (to be honest) but there is plenty of cider fruit in here with a mellow tannin. Its definitely not bone dry and this sweetening limits the length of the tannins somewhat. There is also absolutely no acid in this cider. Well, none that I can get hold of. This leaves the aftertaste tannic and mellow and long.

On the whole, this is not the refined end of cider. Its rough and ready and comes out of oak barrels. Its not pasteurised and its not filtered and its really rather nice. I think its score will reflect some of the things I personally felt were missing (for me!) but I can see why it has its followers.

A score of 70 just earns Wilkins a bronze apple for this cider. I do think there were some shortcomings with it (for me) but its general honesty as a farmhouse cider wins through. I have to say that I would agree with anyone thinking that the score appears a bit harsh... but then I won't change the score I recorded at the time as that is cheating - and it represents how I felt as I drank it.

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