Thursday, 2 January 2014

Magners Pear Cider

OK, OK, I know. Well, I had to start at some point, didn’t I! Actually, it is fairly timely for me personally to start tasting perry but… I can hear all those groans about me starting with the Magners ‘Pear Cider’. Its not a bad way to start 2014 either is it?

In my defense, I have to say that this is actually a good thing for me ­- it returns me back to basics. I remember starting to write my first review of a cider for this blog – Magners as it happens. The question wasn’t to try something that was going to set me alight it was to try something that was, perhaps, the market leader – the standard not in terms of quality, but as a yardstick of the genre. It was also a good reminder for me that this is what so many punters have bought into. I ought to say that, as a cider maker myself, I have tried (and made notes on) many ciders before I started blogging about them… it should be a part of all cider makers strategies – how do you know what you are producing compares unless you do the leg work eh! The blog was just an extension of other things I was up to… but has turned into a big ‘thing’ of it’s own right!

So, where to start? If this is the most popular ‘pear cider’ on the market, why don’t I start with the obvious?! The difference between perry and pear cider. Well, first off, did you know that Babycham was perry/pear cider? And, did you know that Lambrini is perry/pear cider? Not a perry that many traditional producers would recognise perhaps, but there you go. Mind you, I am late to the party – I confess that perry has scared me in that past. Perhaps it is because it can be a tricky thing to make. Apples are far more generous and forgiving! I think it is truthfully because perry is more nuanced - more delicate than cider and I am not the most experienced drinker. But then, I am not the most experienced drinker full stop - so that shouldn't really hold me back.

Pear cider is perry is pear cider. I know some purists who will baulk at that statement. I guess it is not strictly true that the two are the same... but the principle is the same – perry could be regarded as the full juice version and pear cider; although there is nothing that makes that statement true... nothing stopping a pear cider being full juice (or a perry not being full juice for that matter). The simple reality is that both are made from pears. Just as cider (a much abused word) is made from apples - or should be made from apples

Got that? I only hope that bar people read this! How many conversations have I had that ran along the lines of:

Me - “Do you have any perry?”
Barista - “What is that?”
Me - “It is made from pears”
Barista - “Sorry, we only have pear cider”
Me - “It’s the same thing” [retires in mental defeat]


Me - “Do you have any perry?”
Barista - “Sorry, we only have pear cider”
Me - “It’s the same thing”
Barista - “No it isn't - sorry. Perry can only made from perry pears at May Hill”
Me - “Hmmmm. OK then... What cider have you got”
Barista - “Strawberry or Beetroot?”
Me - “Oh fuck off!”

Apologies about the swear word; alcohol is an adults drink so please don’t get your children to read this!

Anyway. I have now diverged from this review so far that I am considering separating it out as it’s own blog. But no – I will persevere and get on with this review.

The first thing I have to say is that this drink comes in a green bottle. And I am assuming it is fairly clear, so I have a bottle of what looks like water in front of me – brightly clear. It has sat on my shelf for a number of months and doesn’t appear to have changed in any way whatsoever:-)

First off I can see that my catagories of colour etc. are going to have to be modified to cover shades of green if I am to try many perries. To be fair to Magners, this is mainly clear with a yellow tinge (although it does pick up green too). 

A light floral smell comes off it – very light. Oddly, at 4.5% this is almost exactly the same as the cider. Controlled alcohol.. that is the answer! It is also quite foamy and highly carbonated. Coming back to it I can see that perry demands more attention that cider does. Or perhaps I need to go back to many ciders and consider them more carefully! There is a touch of citrus – lemon – to the nose in this and mabe even some clementine. However, please be assured that it is very light and I think I may be the only person ever to have sniffed a bottle of Magners Pear Cider before! 

The taste is quite vinious – and watery. And sweet. It is sort of pleasant but doesn’t really seem to have an awful lot of substance to it. Thinking back to those drinks like Lambrini, it does come across as a cheap white wine – sweet and just a touch chavvy to be honest.  Having said that, I am still getting a sense of clementine to it – very slightly orangy. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t offensive… and my experience of tasting perry is very lacking… far more than really it should be if I am to publish this review.

There is virtually no lingering aftertaste to it other than a touch of white wine about it. There is virtually no acid to it whatsoever and certainly nothing tannic (or are these cider terms?)

It scores 47/100: sadly, below average and quite a thin offering. However, I hope that as with cider I can find more satisfying alternatives that I can suggest to develop a pallate for perry... one lives in hope!

My conclusion must be that this has not exactly prepared me for what I have sat on the shelf to try next - a veritable feast from some of the worlds best producers: Olivers, Dunkerton's and Burrow Hill... I feel somewhat under prepared, but here we go!


  1. Hi there,
    This is very topical for me as I have only just discovered your blog in the last few days and am trawling through your posts with much interest....
    I tried a bottle of this only the other day. I had popped into my local Tesco express after work in a desperate attempt to find a bottle of cider ready chilled to gulp down at home. In desperation I picked this one to try. The only other "pear cider" I have experienced is (Tesco`s Finest) Organic Pear Cider, produced by Westons, which, in my very limited time as a "cider searcher", tastes VERY GOOD. My thoughts on the Magners BTW ? Well, just as yours..
    I really enjoy your blog, and I am learning new stuff from every post. I AM your "imaginary rookey cider friend". CHEERS !

  2. Ian,

    Thanks for the comment - it is great to see people getting something from my ramblings.

    Incidentally, I do have some really good perry reviews coming up...


  3. I'm a Perry fan, and often find it as a "sweet" end to a night of enjoying decent cider, and as such are delighted that you are entering into reviewing it.

    I enjoyed your review and while I would say it's probably the worst way to start with the exception of Koppaberg (which I drank for a bet) I look forward to your reviews and experience of trying it this year. The only word of warning I would say is never try more than several halves when you do a camra "beer" festival. I lost a day on Suicider by JJ's at the Derby beer festival. Enjoy

  4. Thanks for the encouragement! Not a huge fan of JJ's though... although this is on a more pedantic, technical issue that I am not convinced they actually make it themselves (and, that being the case, who actually makes it??) That is not talking about the taste - although I do find them to be one of the sweet brigade of cider makers. Not tried the perry though.

    Anyway - cheers and hope you enjoy the reviews!

  5. I'm a barmaid in an unpleasant social club. In Scotland. I know what perry is, and I know what real perry tastes like. Just to give you hope.