Tuesday 29 May 2012

McCrindles 2010 Vintage Cider

Lucky me. I have found another 'small batch cider'. Mind you, this one looks nicely done; it has a batch number on the front of the bottle and even the signature of the cider maker. Nice touch, even if it taken from the whisky makers handbook:-) As for vintage, well it is a 2010 made cider. Please take note Thatchers!! I would only really consider a vintage version of a cider to be a vintage from 2010 season at this point in 2012. If it was produced in the 2010 season it would make the cider at least 16 months old... matured fully and, well, about right for vintage eh!

A couple of things to note about McCrindles. They are based in Gloucestershire. Not sure I have tried too many heritage ciders from that area, although it is a prolific area much in the same vain as Herefordshire and Somerset (well, may be not quite as much, but it is recognised as being one of the main counties). The other thing of note is curious really. Being based on Blakeney Hill, I wonder it has anything to do with that mighty perry pear, Blakeney Red... I am sure I will answer that for myself before this review is out!

There isn't much else to find out about McCrindles on the web - the website advertises their 2009 Vintage, which although nicely presented is, well, indicative of a small producer who doesn't keep his website up together (so, so common when you have so much else to manage too!). So, this could truly be a small batch. And as this bottle comes from the ever more frequented Bristol Cider Shop, so I shall assume that they do their due dilligence to a degree. No, I don't live anywhere near Bristol before anyone asks - but then how close does a great cider shop need to be (its convenient enough to nip in to when passing on the M4 or M5!)

OK, enough procrastination, lets try the thing! By the way - Blakeney Hill is just down the road from Blakeney, where I think the pear originated... thanks Google maps:-)

I have to start by saying that its a bit of a shame that it has been filtered bright. Ciders clear, but not quite like this. The carbonation is low. Its a lovely golden colour. I can see the appeal to a cider maker of having such a luscious looking liquid... though I realise that actually a more natural condition for a cider is slightly hazy (well, when it hasn't been filtered that is). The smell is deep and aromatic. It also has a smokiness about it that is familiar of some of the ciders I have produced and stored for twelve months or so. This is the real deal. Some others call it 'farmyard', but it is a bit of an odd, off putting phrase to be honest and doesn't do the smell any justice.

Taste is very bittersharp. nicely rounded - there is no harsh texture to the acid in this - very nice. I have tated this character of fruit before now - but in a younger cider so it dominated too much... in here it works nicely. The tannin is a given but is mellow and in keeping with its age. Whilst it's not a safe or balanced cider it is extremely tasty and the fruit is very interesting. (if a little odd).

If I have to grumble about anything it is the usual - the filtering leaves the cider a tiny bit one dimensional after a while... not too much, but just a touch.

Aftertaste is tannic and long. Smoky all the way through. On the whole it is a fitting epitaph for the cider that came before it.

I very much like this cider. It is very professionally presented and delivers everything that you would want from a medium dry high juice heritage cider. Sweetening is sensitively donw and doesn't spoil the taste and its simply a really good vintage cider. Its score of 86 gives it a deserved silver apple. Now, do they do an unfiltered version??:-)

Saturday 26 May 2012

Bulmers Vintage Reserve Cider

"This small batch Vintage Reserve has been made with last years exceptional apple crop. We have carefully blended together some of our best vintage grade apples to make this, one of our finest tasting ciders yet." (my highlights and italics)

Well, I know its hard to surprise anyone with the picture in large at the top of each review, but I have some hopes for this cider. Why? Well, I have said before that I have no doubt that Bulmers could make a fantastic cider if they wanted to. I also note that it's their 125th birthday this year - and so to ensure that Mr Bulmer doesn't jump out of his grave shouting and screaming they must have made something to pacify him. OK, that is glib (and probably rude), but I do think that this could be the one to actually write home about... lets try it and see.

Its a fairly plain bottle. Understated and yet with a huge QR code on the back for those with smart phones and nothing better to do. Incidentally, without wishing to give Bulmers game away, its a hyperlink to the 'Vintage Reserve' website:-) At 5.5% its not a bad strength either. It still calls itself premium however, which must mean deduct a point from the overall. Mind you, it gets one back for not saying 'serve over ice'. So we are back on track!

It pours out with a golden glow (partly because its filtered bright) and also because it is a nice shade of gold. With a low carbonation I have to say the smell is definitely there. Nothing too apply or faint with this cider. Although its a fairly 'general' cider smell I am getting bittersweet apples in it too.

Now, having just tasted it I do actually rather like it. It does taste a tiny bit syrupy - although it is a smooth mouthful. There are tannins in here and a fair bit of acid too. Its too clean to be bitter sharps - I have to put it down to simply acid (often bitter sharps come with their own character too, which I cannot detect here).

A pretty quick aftertaste is nice whilst it lasts - though I must admit that as I progress through this cider it does feel a little one dimensional. Its probably the heavy handed filtering that large companies do, coupled with pasteurisation, but in the end it is a posh Bulmers Original. Now, please don't misunderstand me; I don't think this is Original relabelled. Original is not as nice as this one. But it has been tamed and put into its own little commodity type box. I guess this is down to the large scale processes more than anything.

So, on the whole, this is the best Bulmers I have tasted yet. Is it a scratch on the best ciders I have tasted before now? No, its not. Which is odd, because I know the sort of quality cider fruit that Bulmers get in is most definitely equal to the fruit that their neighbours at Olivers, Westons, Lyne Down, Once Upon a Tree etc. etc.

OK, the score. I would love to give Bulmers a bronze apple just for the effort (as patronising as that may sound), Unfortunately, with a score of 64/100 I can't do that - though that score is just about right for me: It just aint a quality heritage cider enough...

Happy 125th Birthday Bulmers!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Westons Oak Aged Cider (Medium Sweet)

I am a bit stuck with this one. I didn't necessarily buy it to review, as I have already done its drier cousin and think that it may suffer as a result of that. I also expect it to taste the same just sweeter!

However, its a cider to try and at least serves to demonstrate a couple of things that I already know to be the case with these ciders.  Now, I put this into the perspective that I have been quite harsh on Weston's ciders during the reviews. Let me say that I do like Westons ciders a lot, although I reckon that because I know a thing or two about making cider that I see their operation, what they do to their ciders - and what they could do if they wanted to - and am a little saddened. I know, I know. Economies of scale at play. I get it. There are many worse. There are a growing number who are better too though, and some of these are producing large quantities whilst maintaining  full juice practices.

Anyway, its not my position to have a pop at Westons. They are very popular with the punters and I reckon that goes a long way (mind you, so is Magners...) Lets see how this cider compares to the rest.

Well, it is a faintly golden colours, bright and moderately sparkling cider. It smells of apple juice. Actually, that is all I get from this cider - I have to remember that Westons use juice to sweeten and then pasteurise to stabilise the cider.

Now, I have (I am ashamed to say) re-read the write up for the medium dry. So I know this cider has character and tannins and all. Which is a shame because I really don't get much of that in the medium sweet. Well, I get a hint of the tannin, but this (and everything else) is more or less drowned out by the apple juice. This confirms my suspicion that over use of juice will lead to a flavour competition between the cider and the juice... in this case, the juice wins.

The aftertaste is juice too, although there is some tannin to be found way into the aftertaste. Its a real shame as the dry version had much more going for it.

Oh, and I have no idea where the oak ageing is (but then, I rarely do!).

So, you probably aren't surprised that it isn't going to score as well as its drier counterpart. But actually, that was fairly sweet and I would encourage anyone who likes a sweet cider to go for that over this one any time. Both can be found in Waitrose, so you shouldn't have much hassle in finding the medium dry.

This version scores 58/100.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Burrow Hill Somerset Royal 3yr old Cider Brandy

Well, I have been doing this for over a year now so I think I deserve to get to the Cider Brandies sooner or later:-) And having discussed such things at great length at the Bristol Cider Shop I opted to start with the 3 year old incarnation. Actually, I had already bought a bucket load of bottles (many of which will no doubt find their reviews on here over the next month or two) so had to watch my spending and weent for the cheapest... I actually really wanted to start on the 5 year old!

To score, this one is going to be a little tricky. With the pommeau and aperitif, at least there was something to draw back on in terms of tannin and acidity. I doubt this will be able to be judged on either score so I will have to figure out a way of crossing that bridge else the score will be meaningless. The troubles of tasting cider and cider based products eh:-)

So, Mr Temperley, this is what all the fuss at the European Union was all about then, is it?! I must admit that what's left of the patriot in me is very pleased that its not just the French who can produce this stuff (I nearly wrote Calvados, although thats just a region in France isn't it:-) For those who aren't familiar with the fight that Burrow Hill had to endure just to be able to call it 'Cider Brandy' its worth Googling... though here is a link that may help:


Phew, glad that is there - otherwise this would be the single longest review have done! Suffice to say that the term 'Cider Brandy' was left out of an EU document which subsequently caused a stream of crap to occur. Hmmm, I didn't do that justice - follow the link! OK, on with the review.

It pours out clear and golden - it has lost its cider colour to a large degree although it still has an orangy glow to it (and seems to be a touch darker than Calvados I have in the cupboard). It smells strong and rich too. My guess is that the older versions are less harsh up the nose.

However, the taste is very well done and makes me glad I started with this one. It has hints of its cider heritage, although is nicely warm and rough in the throat.Hold on, better refill:-) Wow, this has definitely not lost the cider - and I suspect that at this age it is the true cider-brandy of the cider brandy's. Its quite harsh on the palate - a lot like scotch blended whisky is against the smoothness of the Islay malts. I am glad I started with this version of it - I reckon that by 5 years it will be a lot less cider than spirit. Its not as apply as the aperitif though.

The aftertaste is, as expected, warming and fruity. Its quite hot in the mouth after each sip and lingers for ages.

To get around the scoring system, I have taken an average of the general scores (excluding the overall and character). My hope is that the score is still representative.

This scores a very admirable 86/100 and is a silver apple. I am definitely going to be trying the more mature versions (although am not an art critic so may draw the line at the Damien Hirst inspired version!) Nice one Mr Temperley and team!

Thursday 17 May 2012

Sampford Courtenay Sloe and Elderberry Fruit Cider

No, I am not going insane or against my principles - you must bear in mind that my principle is not to knock something without first trying said thing. OK, I don't cut a lot of slack for fruit based rubbish that positions itself on the shoulders of 'cider'. Cider has enough of a personality problem without adding apple 'based' fruit drinks. I can justify this thinking:

  1. Cider is made from apples; perry made from pears; Fruit wines/'English' wine is made from other fruit.
  2. There is no tradition or heritage of cider with fruit other than by and large to fix poor cider - and often the fruit was added at the point of serving
  3. HMRC guidelines call cider with other fruit 'made wines' - that is why the duty payable is greater (and this also includes those ciders where some of the flavour, alcoholic content and marketing comes out of a whisky or rum barrel.)
Now, please don't get me wrong. There is a place for fruit and apple wine/small wine/cider - but to equate it to cider is misleading and also does cider a disservice. Good cider should not need other things adding to it, and I object to silly things trading off of ciders good name. Oh, and: I have heard the argument that it is cider because that is the base of the drink. Sorry. It becomes one of the ingredients. It is not cider. Call it what it is, not what you would like it to be!

So, all things taken, why am I trying this one? Its because it is probably at the top end of cider with fruit adulteration, that is why. I don't think they have produced it to cover up bad cider and, well, its worth trying it to see where it fits in. I have heard good things about the Sampford Courtenay. I love the way that they call themselves a 'cider and English wines company' - as in all honesty this is an English wine. OK, so its called a fruit cider - I am not entirely sure this is OK... I think it is supposed to be called 'cider with fruit' - but that may be a strict application of Trading Standards requirements.

I do like the flip-top bottle and the classy labelling going on here too. At 5.5% its around cider levels, although you can see through the clear bottle to the purple-ish liquid inside. Now, do I drink it in a wine glass or a cider glass (sorry, I can sense some blood vessels popping at that:-)

OK. So I don't need to pour this out to see that it looks like red wine, although this becomes more obvious in the glass. There is a cidery smell too. I suspect that is because it has cider as a base (see my argument above:-) In fact, its almost all cidery so far except for the colour. The taste is interesting though. It works - as an English wine it works well. If I was judging this against the cider I generally try alone, then probably not so much. There are plum'y' notes in the background but the apple is definitely there.

As expected the elderberry is delivering a mass of tannin which is actually quite drying on the tongue. It is to be expected though, elderberries have lots of tannins on the skin which can take up to 2 years to mellow in a full elderberry wine. I have to say that its no more than a heavy West Country cider though.

Most of the fruit flavour is held in the aftertaste - so you get cider and then the rest following. Moving on through the glass (once the other flavours have been detected) there is more of it creeping in - especially the sloe, although my guess is that the elderberry is always there with such big tannins.

Its not bad as a cider. I am not sure how much more the other fruit adds to it, so it is still a bit of a novelty to me. Mind you, at least its a grown up drink and not an alcopop version. I think I have to say I would go for a proper cider over this drink on the most part however.

Its hard to score as it is unlike anything else I have tried so far. I have tried to mark it by going on what I expect something like this to taste like.. though that is not so easy in itself. The score of 69/100 is not quite a medal - I agree with that in so much as it can't really be gauged against the best of the ciders, although it just misses it which again I agree with as it is very well done and presented.

Don't think I will be doing many more of these though (unless I run out of cider and perry to try:-)

Monday 14 May 2012

Weston's English Vintage 2010 Cider

So, here we have the 'other' English Vintage version of Weston's cider. Is it the same? We shall see, although I am not going to be giving very high odds on it being any different! Its in the same style and size of bottle - its as if they simply label the two differently... is that just lazy? Is it OK? I guess I ought to leave you to be the judge of that. Safe to say though, I cannot think it adds any value to the cider and the change in labelling must simply be a cost to Weston's. Odd, innit! Again, here is the photo to show you just how much they are similar externally.

I guess I had better put us all out of our misery on this one eh! Well, here goes (I am actually going to write this as I try it, although I think I know what to expect already!).

Guess what. Its golden. moderately sparkling and had a fairly moderate fruity and tannic aroma. Heard this before? Oh yeah, and there is even the faintest whiff of sulphite to it... could it even be from the same batch???

To taste, mmmm. Its not bad. As not bad as the cider was yesterday. It is not surprising that it is exactly the same. Fairly safe, although a good measure of mild tannin and fruit going on. It has a balance with the acid going on too and the taste lasts well into the aftertaste. Its not too sweet and while there is a bit of 'juiciness' to it, its by no means a lot.

Re-read the last review and then compare with this one... the two ciders are one and the same. I wish I had checked the price of each to see if they lumped a load more onto the Westons bottle... but I didn't I am afraid.

In all, while I may sound disappointed I think it is a nice cider in its own right. I have no idea why Weston's choose to sell the same drink under several different names (and as if to regurgitate the last review in true Westons style - this is by no means the only example of Weston's doing this). I recently drove through Much Marcle and if I had known I would have stopped in to ask them. Mind you, I am not exactly sure what they would have told me!

Surprise - it has got exactly the same score as the Sainsbury's version. Not really fair to mark down the Weston's one is it really. But - which came first???

Friday 11 May 2012

Sainsbury's English Vintage 2010 Cider

OK, well I have a couple of reviews here that are either going to be dead simple but a little revealing or else going to be complex and hard to explain. Captured your attention? It's actually not that exciting - I have two bottles of cider that look identical to each other; this Sainsbury's and Weston's own English Vintage Cider. And I have provided a photo to prove how similar they look (well, they even have the same bleedin' name don't they!!)

So what? Well, aside the fact that one is 7.2% and the other is 7.3%, I get to try them together to see if in fact they are one and the same thing. OK, its not the first time Weston's have done this - see the review for 1st Quality and Marcle Hill (and possibly the Governor). And its not as if I found both these ciders on sale next to each other - the Westons was in a garden centre in Somerset, the Sainsbury's version I will let you guess at:-)

Is this OK though? Is it OK for companies to peddle stuff at us under two (or even three) different names but the stuff being identical? I guess it is, although it really is just more marketing crap really isn't it? No, there isn't anything to say 'this cider has been specially made for Sainsbury's'; although it does say 'produced and bottled for...', but that is just being picky. And why there is 0.1% alcohol difference I have no idea... But then, if this cider is not like the other then that would actually make this whole paragraph a waste of space eh!

So lets try the Sainsbury's one first and see.

It pours out fairly fizzy and golden in colour. Bright and clear as a bright and clear thing that has won the bright and clear competition. The smell is moderate - fruity and cider with a little tannin and sulphite coming through. It does seem a touch juicy... common for Weston's although it is described as medium dry, do hopefully not too much.

And the taste is good. Moderate. Safe. A nice cider flavour to it with an excellent balance between acid, tannin and sweetness. The fruit is there with not too much apple juice going on either. I actually rather enjoy it; although I am sure it is heavily related to most of their other ciders, it is distinct from the still and juicy versions I have tried recently.

There is a reasonable aftertaste to the cider too. Its not especially long, but it is tannic - not much juice coming through at all but a nice fruity taste.

This is not a 'normal' Westons. It is quite dry and whilst not entirely challenging or complex is a satisfying drink. A good score of 70/100 earns an apple for Sainsbury's and for Westons too... now, lets see if the Westons is identical (and do I mark it down if it is???)

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Rich's Dry Scrumpy

I was just about to launch into information about who Rich's are as a cider maker... but then realised that I have already covered one of their ciders so have already done that bit! Oh well.

So, here we have a tiny heritage bottle of cider. I do like the 500ml scrumpy bottle (although at £3.49 for a 500ml bottle of cider that may turn out to be a rather expensive bottle for all its traditional nodding). The label takes me right back to my childhood too - camping holidays in South Devon with my dad buying flaggons of 'ball-breaker' or some such scrumpy that, well, was not very nice if I remember rightly. I think this is the first time I have seen an image of a drunk farmer on a bottle of cider since starting to write cider pages! Apart from perhaps Cider by Rosies playful maiden on her bottle - which seems to be more caricature than drunk farm hand!

Enough about the bottle. Once a marketeer always a marketeer I suppose. This cider pours our hazy/clear and still into the glass. Possibly unfiltered - if it is it is gently done. It has retained a very cidery smell. Its almost rough (but in a very nice way). I am expecting tannin from this cider.

It actually turns out to be a very smooth cider. Rounded is the word I have written down. It is a very fine farmhouse cider with great flavours. I may also say its an easily accessible cider too. There really is nothing rough about this scrumpy! If there is one thing, it is that I think it might be a tiny bit watery. It has moderate tannins with very little acid to compete against it and no sweetness to cover it... and yet it is still very moderate and understated.

It is a good drink though - it tastes nicely matured and the aftertaste is long and tannic with good amounts of fruit coming through as well.

This is recommended and not surprisingly earns itself a bronze apple with 79/100. Just a touch pricey for a Farmhouse cider... though I have never really focussed on price so don't see why I should start now!

Saturday 5 May 2012

Mr Whitehead's Cirrus Minor

I am familiar with Mr Whiteheads cider. Not just because it seems to be slowly becoming more national - I can buy it in my local Tesco's and also I believe it featured in a recent Wetherspoons cider festival. I can also buy it at just about any beer/cider festival that I care to go to! Sadly, this is usually in its Strawberry or Blackcurrent form (which for the unenlightened is not actually cider at all - it is fruit wine. It is not strictly even allowed to be called cider!)

Anyway, I guess one should not judge a cider maker just on their weak points eh. Cirrus Minor is certainly looks the business - a cider made with apples (I know this because its on the ingredients list). However, as with Heart of Hampshire, it doesn't mention sulphite. So it is either taking a chance that it won't go bad, or else it is pasteurised at bottling to ensure it stays OK.

Cirrus Minor has a very fruity smell to it. Quite a large carbonation too - and not exactly foamy which would expect from bottle conditioning. It looks filtered but says its not on the bottle so I can go with that.

Medium Sweet isn't really my thing, but seems to be so popular that it is hard to avoid. And the sweetness is there - in full measure... as well as a fruity cider taste and some kind of berry taste going on (no, I am not obsessed with fruits in cider, there really is a taste of some kind of berry).

It says that this is a blend of desert and cider apples. And it tastes good and balanced. It is still quite berry fruity - cannot place the fruit but it is mainly in the smell. There is some tannin in here - certainly much more than in Heart of Hampshire - and I have to say that I prefer it... sweetness taken into consideration.

Aftertaste is sweet but still fairly balanced. There was always going to be plenty of sharp going on, and it is both refreshing and interesting - if only I can place the 'berry' smell and sensation I get.

This is a very competent cider from a producer that seems to have grown hugely in the last few years. A good bronze apple for Mr Whiteheads with a score of 73/100. Its nice to see that they can make cider as well as their fruit grog:-)

Friday 4 May 2012

Cider 101 - "The beer moment"

I kind of follow Pete Brown's beer blog. Not obsessively, I just like the way he writes about beer. I also envy him a little. I have restricted my scribblings to cover cider reviews and pretty much nothing else . Which is why his turn at the beer bloggers 'The session' is a little tempting for me. The session is an opportunity to write about a given subject, set in turn by various beer bloggers. And this month, he is asking what 'the beer moment' means to beer bloggers.

Given that CAMRA's attitude towards cider is that their approach is covered under the simple term 'real ale' (and, judging by recent campaigns and writings real ale = 'Beer') I guess I am sort of entitled to join in. No, I don't agree with that approach - to me its silly and demeaning of the 'Golden Fire' (to steal from their previous 'What's Brewing' editors latest book - which is, from what I have heard, a very good read and all about cider). Cider currently sits in a precarious position taxation wise - brewers get clobbered and, for some, cider could be taxed more. Don't forget though that when the duty escalator put 5% on beer, it also put 5% on cider too... we are all in this together and I hope that CAMRA and SIBA don't forget this truth.

So, Pete. Sorry if I am jumping on board a train without the necessary ticket, but if we are going to merge cider in with beer then I can say something. I like the title too, although please allow me to rewrite it a little to my own taste.

The Beer Cider Moment.

I have tried some 170-180 ciders over the last year. Many have been drunk on my own in front of the computer or with a pad and pen in  hand. To be honest, sometimes it's a task; something that I enjoy doing but the one thing can be squeezed out for the sake of being fair to cidermakers and their hard pressed wares (nice pun!) is the cider moment. More and more these days, I will consume just a single bottle in an evening. Expanding waistline and desire to avoid alcohol abuse kind of dictates this, but it started as a way of respecting and enjoying a drink beyond simply alcohol or to get a task done,

So, what is the cider moment for me? Well, I am usually lucky to have several ciders to choose from, all sat on their own shelf in my pantry, all placed into order of purchase (OK, I think that is more wishful thinking than anything OCD). The choice is most definitely the first 'beer moment' for me - sometimes I allow myself the choice of the best on the shelf. Some I have no idea whether they will be good or bad. Others I anticipate will be mediocre and yet they have to take a turn...

And then there are those yet to be photographed for the blog. These sit separately from the others - not to be touched until I have taken care of getting them 'ready' (OK, that makes me sound more obsessive than I am, but I didn't want overuse the word 'photograph'!) On the odd occasion, when I am desperate for something I know to be really good I might cheat the order a little... even taking a photo on my phone to 'speed up the process'. Ha, now I definitely sound sad!

I have a few cider glasses that I like to use too. A lovely Aspalls 'chalice' and a couple of half pint beer festival glasses are my favourite. This is only because they don't tend to go through the dishwasher but are washed by hand (I have a very crap dishwasher that leaves everything tasting of salt!) And then its into 'my' space... which actually can be just about anywhere - even with the family, although they know now to leave me to my madness for half an hour.

Cider is a very honest drink. With a little practice, its not hard to read a cider as its being poured. Has it been annihilated by filtering? Are there more bubbles than cider? What colour is it? Can I smell anything? The anticipation of something new is great - as someone who makes cider, all sorts of technical questions fill my head. Beyond this, as a cider drinker, its both a discovery and (sometimes) a revelation. Take the Tremletts Bitter SV cider - I use Tremletts a lot. Its a great addition to weaker early varieties of apple. But as a cider?! I have eaten Tremletts - sometimes I can get it down but more often than not its too tannic. A bit like easting a Bramleys is for acid. However this cider, whilst no doubt adjusted, was delicious.

Sometimes 500ml just isn't enough. Sometimes its far too much! But I have to say this about cider - perhaps something CAMRA has missed in its desire to follow the big brewing organisations into campaigning - every cider has a different personality. And that's the beer moment.


The label 'Cider101' is my excuse to let off steam about things without turning this blog into a political mouthpiece. Saying that, I do think I ought to keep to reviewing as that is far more fun than spouting off about other stuff!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Weston's The Guvernor Cider

To some degree, this review is an accident. It involves me going to a beer festival without the necessary equipment to take notes, finding that there was a 'Spoons with The Guvnor on and then afterwards revisiting said pub to try this cider. So, it truth there should have been two other reviews... but then you cannot live your life by the blog eh!

So, we come to the Guvernor. Marco Pierre Whites idea of cider. Over the last year or so, this celebrity chef has created first a beer and now a cider for sale at his outlets... and at Wetherspoons to by the looks of it. There is a confliction of questions in my head about this - what does a celebrity chef know about cider production and yet, surely as a high end chef he should know and have respect enough for the real ingredients to make a good cider. We shall see.

I do find his choice of cider making partner an interesting starting point. Westons, whilst being a large and respected cider maker, are not exactly known for their full juice ciders, and some of their practices would be deemed 'industrial' by many, including me to a degree (ciders do not start life at 14% vol). But then, who else better to tailor a cider for a celebrity?

So, lets get down to it. I have my short hand notes in front of me as I write this (no, I do not sit in the pub on a computer... not hammering away at my phone. Not my idea of fun!)

It is a fairly light coloured, flat cider. Being Weston's its been filtered and is bright. There is not a huge aroma coming off of it, although it is particularly juice (again, a Westons trait). So, its filtered and pasteurised.

Its not a bad mouthful, sweetened by juice (quite a lot) but with a definite tannin and body to it as well. Acid is killed by the juice and there is no trace of it in the aftertaste either - which is all juice and not much cider.

Now, don't get me wrong. Its not a bad cider. Its just got far too much apple juice in it. For me, this is a mistake that Weston's make on other ciders. As I was sat in the pub drinking this and thinking about the juice problem it hit me to compare this review with that of Weston's 1st Quality cider. I am pretty convinced now, looking back, that this is a very close cousin to 1st Quality (and, 1st is the same thing as Marcle Hill - a cider renamed for Wetherspoons).

Go on, see for yourself. I reckon you won't find them both in the same pub at the same time but if you do get the chance to compare them then let me know what you think (I am happy to be wrong!)

A  score of 54/100 is disappointing and suggests that there are better cider out there to try. Mind you, it is far better than some other ciders I will not mention found in many pubs.