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!