Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Millwhites Rum Cask Cider

Millwhites are a cider producer who loves using different techniques - or should that read types of barrel?! Rioja, Whisky and now rum cask.That said, it is not bad cider to start with - so I figured (temperature aside) I was in pretty safe hands for this next cider.

With two bronze apples to their name (I have already tried the cider prior to writing this post), Millwhites are definitely well above average, full juice producers who don't tend to muck about with their cider (apart from the casks bit). So I am keen to see whether this is 'hint of' rum or full on rum.

Of course, it is now well known that Her Majesty's bods have a suspicious view of spirit casked cider. Apart from oak, it shouldn't be a big deal; either in terms of flavour or raising percentage vol. I think this is a bit of a shame - as much as not being able to use honey in a cider (traditionally called a 'cyser') without attracting much higher levels of duty. To some degree it puts off innovation... though that hasn't stopped the 'fruit' brigade (who technically shouldn't call theirs cider at all).

Anyway, onwards with this one... I may even try to leave this alone for 5 minutes in order to let it warm up!

At 7.5%, this is a full strength cider which is very cloudy and nicely golden. Now, I don't mind cloudy, but this its a bit sloppy. End of the barrel stuff really. Cider should settle clear - that is what you want from an unfiltered cider: clear. Not cloudy. Hazy is OK and some ciders don't get beyond this. Bright is a brewing term and I shouldn't really be able to call a full juice, unfiltered cider bright. However, it is a sign that it hasn't been played with too much.

It is still and medium. Perhaps that is why I left it for a while. After all, there is medium and there is MEDIUM! Having left the chilled cider to settle and warm a little, it has a really fruity nose to it. Quite western in style, but no sign of the rum. Just a nice cidery smell.

I have to say I am disappointed with the sweetening. Too many ciders are sweetened without a thought to how the cider will deal with all the sweetening. I am not saying that Millwhites just chucked the sweetener in, but many think that it is X of sweetener to X litres of cider. No, it isn't. See how the cider takes sweetening first.

There is some rum in my mouth though. Not stacks; this is a full bodied cider with a lot of fruit and a little acid... an too much sweetening. Sorry, have to come back to this. At the end, the sweetening is really funky. I ony know of one sweetener that does this, and that is saccharin. It gives the end of the drink a 'squash' like feeling (that is, how squash used to taste when I was a child and it was sweetened using saccharin). It makes the cider taste like squash to me. No no no no no no! Millwhites. Lose the saccharin. Just because people have used it for the best part of a century, some traditions are best lost!

So, its a nice cider that ends up like apple squash. And its still too sweet. Overall, the acid dies to virtually nothing, although the aftertaste is very long and sweet. All the while there is a low level rum running through it, which works.

This may sound a contradiction but I like this cider. I am just a bit disappointed with the finishing flourishes. It scored another bronze for Millwhites at 72/100

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Adventures in Single Variety Cider... Reviewing my own

I guess it's about time I put my money where my mouth is in regards to single varieties! Using 'Cider101' as a cover, I have been trying commercial single varieties to see what the individual varieties are like, and to see how far those apples have been adjusted in order to make them more marketable. Of course, there had to be something to measure it all by... and this is where Cider Pages fermented (I nearly said 'brewed' just to annoy:-) its own single variety ciders to use as such a yardstick.

Unfortunately I only have a gallon of each variety, so there cannot be any real sharing of tasters. However, I thought it would be nice to re-compare each of my own SV's with the commercial review.

I think this is likely to be split over a couple of posts on here. I am not that keen on diverging from my reviewing remit, but I think this serves a purpose... and will protect my innards from alcohol poisoning from having to try them all in a single session! Also, and importantly, I will not be scoring my own cider - that is neither fair nor objective. I have a policy of not sampling ciders of those who know I write these reviews, so its hardly a good basis for a fair judgement!

So, where to start?? Well, it has to be the biggest hitter - the most tannicful:

Tremletts Bitter.

Cider Pages Tremletts Bitter Cider
There are a few Tremletts ciders out there now - both Sheppy's and (I think) Gwynt y Ddraig produce them. However, for the purposes of the review - and because I trust them - I chose a Broome Farm (Ross on Wye) cider to review for Cider101. But how does it compare to my own?

Pouring into the glass, the Tremletts has dropped really clear in the bottle, with a small natural fizz (I bottled it at around 1002 gravity, so there was a little fermentation still to finish, which created the fizz).  It is a deeply golden colour too, and smells deep and fruity.

The taste is astringent and stongly tannic, although not overpowering. It is very drying though and the aftertaste is very puckering! There is no acid at all in there, and its all powerful tannin with a moderately fruity and very earthy flavour.

Overall, my own Tremletts cider is quite difficult to quaff and is consumed over the space of an hour or so. It is a thoughtful cider.

I am happy to say that this cider compare almost exactly with the Broome Farm version. They sweetened their version, which I can now understand totally. However, having written my own notes before re-reading the review, I am getting almost the same terms cropping up to describe it!

Conclusion? Its a great apple for blending!!

As I am not producing full reviews here, lets go with another one; possibly regarded as the weakest of candidates:


It is a little tricky to compare my own, unfiltered or polished Michelin SV to the one reviewed, the highly polished Once Upon A Tree Michelin. However, the flavours should match up mostly

Cider Pages Michelin Cider
For my own, the smell is moderately astringent. with a stack of fruit behind it. Interestingly, it is quite deep for what should be a light and bland apple.

The taste confirms that there is a lot of fruit going on with a very mild tannin. Actually Michelin makes a really nice drink. There may even be a little acid left. Nicely balanced cider and not challenging... I may have to make more of this!! I like rather a lot!

Compared to the reviewed Michelin, I would say that the two do compare - and that is probably about it. I must admit that I may have mistaken the astringency for earthy/woody smell in the Once Upon a Tree version, but my own is a lot less acidic and more tannic than the other. Having said that, I do recall being fairly impressed with Michelin at the time - and this proves that the apple variety works!

Next time, I will go with the Harry Masters Jersey and Dabinet. These two are favourites of mine and I have long been convinced that they smell and taste very similar.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Aspall Harry Sparrow Cyder

Pre-warning to this review: it has been suggested that this review is not as accurate as it ought to be, due to the temperature it was served at. As it was an issue, I would be willing to go along with that and so, as soon as I can find a bottle, it will be re-reviewed. 

If I find differently I will remove this review as being unhelpful. Cheers, Cider Pages

An Aspall cyder that I haven't tried!!! Well, as it is on draught at the Cider Tap (it isn't currently a part of their bottle range... yet) it has to be tried!

Why Harry Sparrow though? Is this some mythical agricultural myth, like the Green Man? No, well, I guess it could be - just depends on who you ask! Harry used to be head cidermaker for Aspalls during the 20th century. This cider (sorry, cyder) is made in tribute to him.

It is described as: "Mid golden to amber in colour, Aspall Harry Sparrow is a full bodied medium dry cyder that has a wonderful fruit aroma with floral and cedar wood overtones." Looking at the website, it mentions Kingston Black and Medaille D'or - so there ought to be some tannin to this, which is unlike many other cyders Aspall make.

And so, this 4.5% cyder is poured out - too cold, light golden and bright - with a low level fizz that seems to be quite persistent. It has a very floral tone to its' smell - perfume and a little sharp smelling. The coldness kills most of the smell though (are you getting the hint yet, Cider Tap?)

Now. The taste is a bit disappointing. It is rather too sweet - there are low levels of sharpness and I am getting the tiniest amount of tannin in the flavour, although this is lost almost as soon as it is noticed. It feels tamed (and again, as with the Hogan's, it has been dropped to a mass market 4.5%).

If I really concentrate on it (without looking to weird in a pub that is fast filling up as people leave work for the day) I get the floral flavour to go with the smell. It is still quite eastern style and has a bit of a kick to it. This 'kick' is so small it may as well not be there though.

The aftertaste is short in length and not particularly inspiring. I have to come back to the temperature once again though. This cyder is on the sweet side - I think it should be chilled a bit. But not this far; and this cyder is probably quite ethereal in its character so would need more of a chance to be tasted properly. OK, perhaps I am being a bit snooty -  but give the cyder a chance... it doesn't all have to be arctic!

I personally think that Aspall may have missed the mark on this - and an opportunity to make a really stunning, full juice cyder in honour of a man who seems to have loved the French methods of making cyder - that would have been a great drink to try... but Aspall wouldn't be capturing a mass market with that so we get a 'diluted' version that just doesn't really satisfy.  It comes across as a tailored cider that suits undeveloped taste buds - it leaves me short. And that is a shame.

With a score of 62/100 I will be sticking to Premier Cru and Organic.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Hogan's Draught Cider

I probably don't get to London as much as I used to. In the days when I was 'on the road' selling stuff I would have a region outside of London (I am not from London) but would end up picking the area up from time to time. I like going to London and I like leaving just as much - it is a busy, stress filled place most of the time - but the history and atmosphere is one that needs to be experienced... I guess it reconnects you to a sense of British-ness (whatever that is)

That is probably the best write up London has had from me. It was meant to be an introduction for having made he trip back to the Cider Tap. I don't make special trips just for the Tap, but as the trains out are unbearable from about 1630 to 1800 it is worth sitting through it drinking cider. Having said that, the choice is starting to run out a bit so I may have to spend a rush hour in the Bree Louise next time (or, dare I say it, find another cidery location).

First up is this Hogans Dry Cider. It is a new addition for them, although having visited their website to confirm its proper name find it is called a 'Draught Cider' and also medium dry rather than dry. It comes to me in a half pint glass, golden and ever so slightly fizzy. To be honest, drinking halves of cider is definitely the way to try new ciders (especially as they can be a little hit and miss when you are exploring 'new' ciders!)

I do need to point out that the Cider Tap serves it's ciders too cold. My own general rule is that the dryer the cider, the warmer it is - with dry being room temperature and sweet being chilled (rather like a sweet white wine). However, possibly thanks to the 'over ice' brigade, people prefer their cider cold (I guess it's like demanding a crisp, crunchy and shiny apple...) Shame really as I think it has tainted a few reviews done at the Tap!

Anyway, back to the cider. As mentioned, it is light golden and slightly sparkling (it is in their sparkling list, so it should be a little at least!) I am not sure how the ciders come to be sparkling, as they are served from the tap. Could this be a 'keg' cider? (don't tell CAMRA!!!)

It smells very light and a bit appley - the coldness of the liquid stops it from being more than that. There is a tannin to the smell too, which comes across as an industrial, petroleum hint. This smell comes from some of the heavy duty bitter apples - I have noticed it more from bitter sharps than bitter sweets.

The taste is actually rather watery, which is a shame. the sparkle is gone by the time it hits the taste buds, and it is very refreshing. It isn't very dry though - which must be because it is mislabelled as dry - but the wateriness of it doesn't help. I am getting a moderate sharpness to it, with a reasonable tannin which fills the body. However, don't expect a really complex cider - this isn't that. Given that it is 4.5% I am prepared to stick my neck out and say it's been watered down.

The aftertaste is, as expected, short and a fairly safe mix of acid and tannin.

Overall, I find this a pleasant cider - not great, but pleasant. If it is kegged then it isn't a bad kegging... though I would prefer a stronger profile which is a bit more original than this 4.5% version. I suspect it might have scored a little better if it had been a bit less cold - though that wouldn't really have affected things too much.

A score of 67/100 sees this Hogan's just shy of an apple. Its not bad at all. Just a little mainstream for me perhaps.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rich's Cider Golden Years Vintage Cider 2011 - Lambrook Pippin

Rich's ciders back to back?! Well, its all I have. Apart from about 15 new bottles of cider that I am yet to photograph:-) Oh, and a few Perries... yup... am brushing up on my perry terminology and will have a crack at them soon. But for now, these Rich's have been standing me in good stead.

This is another single variety. As such I am going to put it under Cider101 as well as a review (probably mainly for my own reference, but its a growing list of single variety apples which could be useful!) I like Rich's for their odd verieties; I hadn't heard of, let alone used either Dunkerton's or Lambrook Pippin before now. OK, Yarlington Mill is a single variety that many producers make. To be honest it is a lovely apple so a bit of a no brainer (unless you are like me and insist on making blends to get the best flavour in the cider:-).

So, Lambrook Pippin is another variety I have no experience of. Turning to my reliable source of apple info, Ashridge Trees, I find the 'improved' Lambrook Pippin is a mild sharp apple which is as useful for cooking as it is cider. That should make this review interesting! It harvests mid season (October time) so would be great in a blend - But these reviews are all about finding out what it brings to the party. Oh, and one thing to mention to Ashridge from their notes: cider apples do not need to be pressed "as quickly as possible" - bletting them (allowing them to fully ripen and start to soften) is a traditional - and I would think 'best' practice.

So, lets get on with trying this cider then. Once again it is a highly polished product, although with a silver apple for the Dunkerton's perhaps I ought to learn to forgive this a bit more than I do! It pours out golden and quite fizzy and clean as a whistle. I'm not sure if I have shaken the bottle, but it is really quite fizzy!!!

The smell is interesting. There is some fruit in it but more noticeable is a funky, light note (I assume this is the sharpness of the apple, doing it's thing) This is not unpleasant and is very distinctive.

Often when people  tell me a cider is based upon a sharp apple I think it is going to be very sharp - eye watering. Unfortunately for some of the newer entrants to the cider market (mainly where apples come from gardens or 'found around the county') this is unbearably true. However, it doesn't have to be like that - there are excellent ciders made from sharp apples (when done well and with respect to the varieties and character of the cider). What Rich's have done is to take a mild sharp apple - as in not very sharp - and make a cider from it. The resulting cider is very nice indeed.

There is light fruit running through the taste - oranges almost - and this works with the rounded sharpness. The acid itself is backed by a bit of tannin running through the cider (which is also a bit of sweet). Some of the carbonation stays with the drink and breaks it all up somewhat, making this a nice and interesting drink. I am left with a slightly watery taste at the end which is a little odd (but not bad).

The aftertaste is moderate in length and rather drying (there is a moderate tannin running through the drink too).

It is very nice. Perhaps not as nice as the Dunkerton's, although I may be splitting hairs a bit. A score of 77/100 is a solid bronze apple all the same.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Rich's Cider - Golden Years Vintage Cider 2011 Dunkerton's

The name of these Rich's ciders really does take some getting used to!! If I had an award for length of name then they would be right up there with the longest of them:-)

This one is a single variety - and I confess it confused me somewhat (you see, Dunkerton's are a cider maker, not an apple). Having asked at the counter I am reliably informed that this apple isn't anything to do really with the Dunkerton's - although I believe the apples used in this cider came from Dunkerton's... or something like that! I think it is fair to say that its a variety that I am unlikely to work with... assuming that it is only found at Dunkerton's.

A bit of Googling reveals that I am still a little confuddled. It is a commercial apple raised around the 1940's in Somerset and is classed as a 'sweet' variety, with harvesting mid November (which makes it a good blender for the main bulk bittersweets and sharps. One source says that it is quite widely planted - so one day I could indeed have a go with it. I do notice that on one tree selling site it mentions that it produces a "light, sweet, fruity cider". No. It doesn't. Not unless you stop it with some sugar left it doesn't. Ashridge Tree's say that it produces a good cider on its own "almost vintage quality". I like the sound of that!

The bottle describes the cider as medium bodied and sparkling. So lets get going with that in mind then. At pouring it is a very highly polished, filtered cider that is light golden and bright. Don't get me wrong, I like brilliant bright golden cider - it does look attractive. However, cider isn't a brilliant bright golden thing. It can be a clear and golden without the extra little polish and still be a beautiful thing!

It is a lightly fizzy drink that persists during the whole experience. On the nose it has an incredible flowery smell - tangy even. It has a bit of a tannic smell too, although this comes across as light too.

The taste matches the smell in that it is light in tannin with a good level of fruitiness with tangy flowery notes. It also seems very polished and I am sure it is not firing on all guns as a result. It is very nice though - a delicate cider that has a minutae of acid to match the rest of the flavour.

The aftertaste is long and quite drying - the tannin is clearly more than it seems. In all, this is quite a potent cider apple - albeit a very gentle one. I like it a lot; it is distinctive whilst requiring the time to consider it properly and appreciate its complexity.

It scores 88/100 and a good silver apple goes to Rich's. Nicely done!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Rogers Dry Cider

The amazing case of the disappearing review has been solved. Well, actually I figured out how to access my old phone and pulled off my notes. But that isn't half as impressive as the first statement!

So, going back to my trip to the Cider Tap in London, my second cider half of the evening came from Dorset. Rogers Cider is a small producer just north of Bridport. Making cider from their own fruit - almost wholly cider fruit.

As you can see from the photo above, I failed abysmally on the photo opportunity. However, as you can see from what's left of the cider, it is quite clear and golden. I am conflicted as to whether to call it filtered or not, but it does actually look pretty good.

I am not getting much from the smell, though it does smell a little young. It is still surely too soon to be drinking the new years cider (bearing in mind this was at the end of March).

It tastes quite young too, though after a bit the tannins do develop in the mouth. It is quite a sharp cider overall though, with a good acid body and a fairly light tannin. I suspect this comes from using all cider fruit though, the sharpness and tannin do match each other... though I fear its a bit too bitter sharp.

The aftertaste is actually rather drying and puckering - even though the cider is not that drying in the taste. I do quite like it, though a half is enough for me for now. If it is a young cider, I think it needs more maturation to be great. Curiously, I expected this to similar to Dorset Nectar who (by the use of Google maps) appears to be just down the road. It is really rather different... which is surprising.

With a score of 71/100, Rogers earns a Bronze apple. A few more months of maturation, it could do much better!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Carling British Cider

This new entry to the cider market is one that I must confess to wanting to avoid for a while. Having recently tried the Carlsberg effort, the idea of another lager manufacturer having a go at 'enhancing' the UK cider industry (which I guess is PR speak for making a few bob) is not my idea of fun.

Prejudice to one side though - there are people who will try this cider as something familiar and easy to access. The hope must surely be that they then find their way to more traditional, complex tastes in the same way as people develop tastes in wine or ale. Perhaps that is just me trying to be optimistic... that can't be so bad though can it?

Carling didn't exactly get themselves off to a gracious start with this cider. I kept an eye on the news of its launch, with great soundbites such as it would be a “modern premium cider” (I could write for hours on that phrase alone).

There are a few snippets I would like to put up here - mainly because it is against this that I shall be judging this cider (well, if you spout PR bull, and make it available for people like me to spot, then you have to live by it):

The Drinks Business (14th January)
In a statement the company said that after a year of “refining and perfecting the cider”, consumer tests carried out by MCBC Consumer Research put the new cider ahead of the current market-leading brands on “taste, refreshment and likelihood to buy”.

Marketing Magazine (14th January 2013)
Jeremy Gibson, brand director for Carling at Molson Coors UK, said: "Our aim was to make a product that beats the competition on taste and refreshment, and Carling British Cider has done just that

However, most recently the Grocer has reported that the 'British' apples making up the cider could be as little as 10% of the total of the juice content - the rest of the total juice content being made up of imported apple juice concentrate:

Carling defends 'British Cider' branding despite low levels of UK apples

Now, although this is worrying for Carling (that the total juice content could actually be very low) it rather begs the question as to other 'commodity' cider producers, doesn't it? The main concern (which is raised in the article) is how can they call it 'British' with any sense of honesty. Me? I would go further. How can they call it 'cider' with any sense of pride or transparency (is it even a cider)?

Anyway. Lets judge this cider based on its appearance and taste rather than its PR in the press (though I will be watching out for that taste, refreshment and likelihood to buy:-)

My first comments about this (before opening it) are in relation to the label. Vague is probably the words best used to describe it. Beyond this, it took me several minutes of scouring the small print to find the alcohol strength (4.5%). Mr Molson Coors - surely you have sufficient experience in the beverage industry to know that you should display the strength clearly on the label (my own TSO suggests 14pt as a minimum size for the text). This is far too small! Naturally, there are no ingredients listed.

On pouring, its a pale golden colour with a foamy fizz. About standard for this kind of cider - a moderate fizz. It is also (obviously) very bright and filtered. Lets face it, this is the product of commercial processes rather than a traditional full juice operation... I think it is more honest just to accept that (especially given the press above!)

It has an aroma (which puts it ahead of WKD etc:-) It also has a little tannin to the smell, amongst the clean (chemically) components. It is all rather faint, but more than I was expecting.

And so we come to the taste. My first thinking is 'boiled sweets'. It is sweet, foamy and bland. It isn't watery, but it is not complex or in any way challenging. On the plus side, it is at least trying for a little tannin and even some fruit. It succeeds a touch at the tannin but, sadly, the fruit is just a whisper.

The aftertaste is just more sweetness. This basically means that the sweetness lasts but the rest of the flavour doesn't.

With a score of 46/100, I would say this cider has a long way to go before it becomes 'leading' in sense other than in the marketeers head and probably fee. Whether it is ahead of the other market leading brands (for taste, refreshingness an my wanting to buy). Well, I don't think any of those have earned an apple on here.

Welcome abroad the bandwagon Carling. One more reason why the industry needs to distinguish between proper cider and imitations led by PR and 'image management'.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

When is a cider not a cider? (and other fruit)

For this last of the current range of 'interesting things I would like to talk about', I'd like to turn my attention to those ciders that are called cider, but in fact many people (including me) proclaim are not. Fruit ciders have become a bit of a fad of late. Whether it be strawberry, blackberry, summer fruit or even ginger and passionfruit (etc.) they are all the rage - even at CAMRA festivals.

Before I (or anyone else) launches into some kind of tyrade against this type of beverage, let me outline exactly what they are, as per the industry duty regulations (HMRC Notice 162).

On the basis that they include ingredients (i.e. other juice than apple or pear juice) that are not classified within the cider or perry 'allowed' list... they are deemed as 'made wine'. This is where the white ciders live, and the Hooch (etc.) Indeed, under NACM guidelines (that is National Association of Cider Makers - they who represent Magners, Bulmers and the top fruit cider producers of the UK) they ought to be called 'cider with ....' as opposed to ' ... cider'.

Picky? Yes. Does it make an ounce of difference? Well, enough people who love and care about cider feel that this is simply bandwagon jumping and alcopops 'riding in on the back of a respectable drink'.
But that would be forgetting that cider has had an identity crisis for years (and often at the hands of those who are members of the NACM!)

There are some who argue that 'fruit ciders' are traditional. In some ways I would agree. Traditionally (and by that I mean historically), the reason that cider makers added flavouring to cider was to consume what was probably most kindly called poor cider. Badly kept, badly blended or just plain borderline drinkable was often turned into 'Crewkerne Sunrise' or something similar.

OK, tradition aside, lets step backwards a bit. There is a factor a bit more current: the UK governments strategy towards alcopops and 'teenage drinks'. These are the 'Hooch' and such like of the 90's (and I recall more than one headache as a result of this sugary fizzy stuff). So, large beverage companies needed a more respectable vehicle than alcopops... and low and behold, flavoured cider started to appear on the shelves. I mean, why not; cider has had a crisis of identity since the 70's and although the 'Magners effect' is wearing off slightly for them it is all still fair game (the Magners effect was the positive effect on the cider industry as a whole due to the money spent on advertising by said Irish company).

So, conspiracy theory laid out - or facts depending on what you would like to believe. So, what can a poor cider maker do about this? Well, the rules are simple - if you are a duty exempt producer you cannot make it. If you do, then you cease to be a duty exempt cider maker and must pay duty. If you are not exempt, then the duty element for the fruit cider (made wine) is much higher than for cider/perry.

And there you go. That is fruit cider. But it's not why I don't like it... well, I don't like cider being used as a cover for alcopops - that road leads to all ciders being treated like alcopops. The main reason I don't like it is because cider has a problem that it needs to sort without the hindrence of fruit cider/alcopops.

Perhaps the cider industry has taken a few huge steps forward in the last decade. Frustratingly it seems to have taken a few in the wrong direction too.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Rich's Cider 'Golden Years Vintage 2011' Yarlington and Lambrook Pippin

Goodness me - that is one heck of a mouthful! Not satisfied with this being a limted edition, vintage (and, by the way, 2011 is plenty old enough for a vintage for me:-) it has to be a couple of cracking varieties melded together into a vintage. So it has style before I even taste it. Not so sure about the Golden Years bit... never mind. You should see what some of my cider gets called!!

Now, this was meant to be a review of a 'Rogers' cider that I tried whilst at the Cider Tap... it was meant to sit alongside the Millwhites review. However, I changed my phone and forgot to sync my notes and scores on it! Ah well, if I can access the back up I will retrieve it and put it up as its worth it (I think). Mind you, that could just be desperation as the next cider on the list is the (by now) infamous Carling 'British' Cider. But lets get into that one when we do.

I bought this cider d'rectly from the maker. Well, as in I stopped by and went into the Rich's shop. Nice it is too. And they have a cafe, which kind of makes it worth your while going out of your way for it. They make several of these 'Golden Years' vintages; I bought the lot and will be going through them for the sake of research!

This one pours out a lovely dark golden colour, with a foamy fizz. It looks bright, although I cannot really tell if its been through a filter. If it has been filtered, it has been done gently (though there is no reason a well kept vintage shouldn't be clear/bright like this.

The smell is woody - the typical Yarlington smell. Its very nice indeed, and a tiny bit smokey too, which to me is a sign that it is a vintage. The woodiness is also a bit floral too - well, apples are a floral fruit eh!

The taste is great. The earth/wood/floral notes remain and there is a good measure of tannin in the drink. I would say it has been sweetened to a medium dry (It doesn't say on the label what it is, so lets just go with medium dry!). Yarlington Mill is a funky apple, moderately tannic and no real acidity to it. It has a distinctive taste that I am getting tons of going on in this drink. Its a real cider lovers drink!

The Lambrook Pippin is not lost in here either. I am a lot less familiar with it and its taste, although there is definitely another variety competing rather well against the bold Yarlie. I have the Lambrook down as a mild sharp apple (note that Ashridge pitch is as a duel cooker/cider apple). It is an interesting acid and balances well against the Yarlington Mill.

The aftertaste is long and delicious. The only shame about this is that I only bought one bottle of it! Ah well, I am off to Royal Bath and West this year so will have to 'divert' once again on my way home!!

A score of 81/100 sees this Rich's cider with a silver apple. That makes it two silvers and a bronze for them so far on Cider Pages... they are creeping up the league table of my favourite Somerset cider makers!