Wednesday 7 November 2012
Gillow Cider Brown Snout Cider
Brown Snout is not an apple I am familiar with. In fact, I am not entirely sure where I would get some to play around with (well, not strictly true - though none of the orchards I frequent have any). So this is a bit of a journey into the unknown... which is exactly why I wanted to do this exercise. And as it is being published three quarters of the way through the pressing season (assuming its going to last into January yet again) its probably too late to do much about it now. Mind you, it will be recorded and borne in mind for next year!
In addition to this it comes from a producer I have not had much to do with too. Gillow's got a reasonable review from the 2011 Great British Beer Festival last year, a Herefordshire producer who seem to be well established, I managed to find a couple of their ciders to try earlier this year from Truffles Deli in Ross on Wye (which also goes to show how much of a back log of ciders I have... what a nice problem!). A quick look at their website suggests that there are more of theirs to try too, though I think I would have a few words to say about the choice of names for one of their ciders (the marketing head on my shoulders wonders how on earth they sell a cider called 'Knicker Dropper' to their intended punters (i.e. they claim its aimed at ladies)???)
Brown Snout is a moderate bitter sweet variety from Herefordshire (early 19th century, in case you are interested). From what I can find out about it, its a russetted apple - essentially its a rough skin texture... pick up an egremont russet in a local supermarket to see what I mean. There is a saying that russets make good cider, so I am sort of expecting this one to be rather nice. It is harvested late October to early November. Re-reading this paragraph, I ought to validate the comment about supermarkets: pick up a russet in a supermarket (if you can get them this year) and you will get the texture of the skin. That is why it is a 'russet'. However, odds are a bite into it will reveal a cardboard like texture. Now try a russet from a farmers market. Wow! The taste will be complex, juicy and full...
So, lets have a go at this cider then (NOOOO! I refuse to join in the latest trend on starting every sentence with 'so'. My apologies. Please allow me to starts again. OK, homies, Lets 'ave a bash at this cider then. Ah, much better!
This is a still cider, deep golden - almost brown - and with a good layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. It appears clear although I cannot imagine it is filtered. At 6.4% its a reasonably alcoholic cider. Pouring carefully to avoid yeast I can smell a deep tannic cider. A little short on fruit, but typical of a fruit with a bittersweet character.
The taste is very nice - moderate tannin that isn't drying at all and is quite fruity. This is actually a little surprising, as the aroma was full of tannin. The fruit in the taste is good although its not a lively taste in itself. The surprise in this drink is the acid. It is reasonably astringent, not particularly sharp but is a persistent flavour which develops almost a petroleum like quality through the drink. My notes say that the acid wins over the tannin (but not by much). This is not because the acid is any bolder than the tannin but simply by remaining for longer.The aftertaste is long and acidic, with the tannin falling away.
I like this cider quite a lot. It is interesting and hangs together pretty well. I guess my only question is whether it has been played with or adjusted... I guess only Gillow can answer that, though I am happy that this is the real thing (pretty much). Brown Snout itself would add a lot to a cider, although as an apple with a foot in both bittersweet and bittersharp camps its not one to use for adjusting the profile of a cider.