Sunday 12 August 2012
Millwhites Rioja Cask Cider
Please note - this review was originally written as a 'Wilkins' and not 'Millwhites' (as it is) and has had to be amended. Thanks to Cider Guide for spotting my mistake!
As I bought two halves at the Bree Louise I figured I should something different. Not just to compare with the first one, but because I am not entirely happy that the score really reflected the skill of this well renowned cider maker. Now, here is the awkward bit. This is not a Wilkins cider - its a Millwhites cider that I mistook for a Wilkins cider (probably in all my excitement!). Suffice to say that Millwhites is also a well known cider maker from Somerset!
So, we have this Millwhites Rioja Cask cider. I am not sure how much longer these 'cask' type ciders are going to be a regular feature for cider makers in the UK. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise have recently ruled against a Scottish producer who was making a whisky cask cider and it would seem that, if it adds to the profile and abv then its a no-no. Having never really been that interested in making cider in wood its something I have never tried. I have heard mixed HMRC thinking about even calling it Whisky/Rum/Rioja cask cider... I guess the jury is out until some poor cider maker gets 'tested' by the authorities!
I have said above that I am not interested in this kind of cider. That isn't totally true. Producing something good from a spirits cask is (as far as I am concerned) a rather tricky task. Too many over egg the spirits and leave the cider in the background. Yuck. In other cases the said spirit just doesn't go with cider. Yuck and yuck again. But when done in the hands of a skilled cider maker it is unique and lovely. Of course there are those who cheat (and sadly, 'cheating' in the cider industry in more widespread than you would imagine). I have heard of one who produces a rum 'cask' cider where the rum comes out of a bottle in. Perhaps HMRC would like to focus on these types first and leave the more honest ciders alone:-) Perhaps...
So, this cider. Being flat it has a faint but fruity smell and is dark and golden and hazy - hence no filtering. I cannot smell any wine coming from it though. However, you do get some once you taste it - though not a lot, it certainly isn't overpowering at all. There is also wood coming through - quite a lot more wood than wine if I am honest.
The one thing that you will notice with this cider though is the tannin. It is very drying in the mouth. I am not sure where this much comes from - it could be the wine and cider. Mind you, its not exactly harsh... just very drying.
You will notice no mention of acidity. That's because I am not sure where it is. I do think this has been sweetened slightly, as there is that taste about it - this could be masking what little acid there may be. The aftertaste is dry and long - mostly due to the tannins, although it is a fruity cider.
Overall, I think I preferred this one to the straight dry farmhouse (even though its by a different producer!!), although its always going to be horses for courses. I think its a cider that makes no apology for itself and is bold. I can see why some might think it rough, and others think it wonderful... me, well, I think I will have another glass an make my mind up later:-)
A score of 73 earns the Rioja cask cider a bronze apple. Oh, and apologies for the photo...