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!


  1. I (ahem!) researched the different ages of this Cider Brandy many years ago and came to the conclusion that the 5 year old was my favourite. At this age it has lost a good bit of the fiery character of the younger spirit, but retains more of the cidery/appley flavours than the 10 year old brandy which is much smoother. Having said this, it was a good while ago, so I may have to return to this 'research' at some point...

  2. Thanks for the comment Mark - that is what I suspected. My guess is that its a bit like whisky in a way - after 18 years the harshness has mellowed and the flavour has matured. Mind you, the younger cider brandy has a real life to it.

    Well worth the re-research, I think:-)

  3. So far I've tried the 3yo & 5yo, as you are expecting the younger is more fiery and the 5yo mellower, but I'm not sure I prefer it. Both are far from the industrial-chemical mass produced taste of many sprits; positively therapeutic, in moderation of course. I will be working my way backwards through the range when I can justify the outlay....
    ps you will know slightly cheaper bought via the makers website if you can make up a moderate size order to get free carriage.

  4. Thanks for that comment - and the bit about buying direct... its good stuff!