OK, I had to do it sooner or later. Anyone that is reading this blog who is sensitive to such things please look away now, as you may be offended.
Yes, I believe that Bulmers deserves a review as much as anyone else. If Magners is the yardmark, then Bulmers ought to place too. I know cider makers that would disagree with me. But then I am/would be happy to put my cider up against Bulmers at a taste test, so why should I be worried about it? Also, it is one of the most popular ciders in the UK - so if there is better stuff out there ought we to engage with this drink. There I go, sounding like some kind of missionary with a zeal to convert the masses. This blog isn't about that. Its about measuring things from my own perspective. And I have an open mind. So here we go.
Its Magners shaped, its Magners sized. Its best served 'over ice'... Let me guess who Bulmers is in competition with:-) On that note, Bulmers is more or less judged by most. However, it is not Magners. Its an English cider made in Hereford.
Its also like a beer! On pouring, it develops a head unlike any cider I have ever seen. And this foamy carbonation has staying power. For someone who likes only a hint of sparkle, I waited this one out and lost! Interestingly, this foam is not that fizzy (does that make sense?). It actually gives body to an otherwise watery cider. There is an aroma, and the aroma is of the west country style of cider - tannin, cider fruit with not a lot of acid going on.
As for taste its more cidery than Magners - not surprising given its Herefordshire parentage. It is a very bland cider though. No doubt, Bulmers could produce a cracking cider if they wanted to, but this isn't it. Its very safe indeed. It makes the right noises, but is clearly far from full juice. It tastes and feels like an engineered cider - tailored to taste like a general western style, with little or no acidity - what is there is countered by its sweetness. There is an aftertaste, albeit a fairly weak spirited one.
Saying this, it is different from Magners - a step in the right direction, although only a single step - and its score of 50 more or less proves that for me.