Friday 6 May 2011
Sheppy's Kingston Black Cider
Sheppy's are one of the pioneers of the single variety cider in the UK, although more recently many producers are making this style of cider. It harks back to the innovation in wine, with named grape varieties - although putting my cards firmly on the table I don't think apples carry this treatment as well as grapes. With a cider, you want to balance the apples out to get the best taste. Having said that, balance isn't everything. Character and personality are just as important and some of the best ciders I have tasted have been made from 3-4 varieties of apples.
Of all the apples that should make a decent single variety, general consensus is that Kingston Black is the prime candidate. Its a mild bittersharp, but with some decent tannins in it. This cider should have a pretty distinctive taste too, as Kingston Black is generally a very dry cider and the tannins can be rather bold.
The Sheppy's version is a cross between amber and gold in colour - nice, although I have seen a few Kingston Black ciders that have more reddy brown to them. There is a fairly mild carbonation too. Its s smidgen over a low carbonation, but does lift it and give it a nice, tannic aroma. I am looking forward to this.
And it is very delicious. Sure, the Kingston Black tannin and dryness are held back by sweetening and (to some degree) the carbonation, but the taste is definitely there. I am not surprised to find that it has been dulled a little in its production - single variety Kingston Black can be... challenging. This is one occasion (one of the VERY few) when I am glad that Sheppy's filter, it has left the taste intact but restrained so that the flavour of the fruit can compete with the tannin.
There is also a good acid background to this cider too. Not surprising as KB is a bittersharp, but even then this acid doesn't really compete with the tannin and sweetness. One thing I do note though - where is the deep, tannic aftertaste? I expected this taste to last, but it really doesn't at all. A bit of a shame, although its not critical.
In all honesty, I could drink this one all over again. It doesn't change my mind about the best ciders being a blend of several varieties, but as Kingston Black ciders go, its really very nice. A score of 71 sees a bronze apple awarded to it. As much as I lean away from single varieties, I am glad.