Saturday 16 June 2012

Olivers Shezam Cider

One of the things that I immediately like about this Olivers cider is that it has the process neatly described out on the back of the bottle. Knowing what I do about Mr Oliver and his people, I have absolutely no doubts in my head that this is what they do. Sure, describing the 'angels share' from a wooden barrel has more to do with whisky than cider - it doesn't really sit in the barrel long enough to lose that much (so they would have to be very thirsty angels!) but there is some poetic licence to be granted on this - I guess those hardened whisky angels would have to 'walk 500 miles' to get hold of Tom's cider:-) Apologies - an intended pun to reference the fact that Tom Oliver is also a road manager for the Proclaimers:-)

And so we come to Shezam. Why its called Shezam exactly, well I hope I find out one day - maybe its just that good that they all took a sip and shouted "shezam"?? (or maybe its magic cider?) Who knows... it doesn't work backwards (mazehs) and I can't really get any useful anagram from it (he'z sam?).

As is becoming a common touch for Herefordshire producers, this bottle displays the 'Herefordshire PGI'. I need to research this a little, but I think the sole purpose of this PGI is that you can only call it Herefordshire Cider if it is made in Herefordshire with Herefordshire apples. That may be a little strict interpretation, but its main aim is to stop others from producing what they would call Herefordshire Cider with any old muck. I can't see many Somerset producers bothering though with any kind of heritage PGI though - albeit I can think of one or two from other parts of the UK that might. In any case, it doesn't appear are restrictive as the French rules so that is probably a good thing.

On pouring this cider is beautifully golden, with low carbonation and is brightly clear... what? brightly clear??!! Oh, I seem to be coming across this far too much currently. Mind you, that is how the public will buy it. As a nation we are not interested in natural stuff, we want bright, crunchy and sweet. Well done marketeers and conglomerate foodco's for persuading us all that what we really want is not the best that a product can be, but some sanitised version of said products. OK, I like my ciders unfiltered or at most gently filtered... cider shouldn't require filtering as it drops clear. It does not drop polished, however.

Shezam smells fruity and gently tannic - in fact, the aroma is very gentle (when I say that I mean gentle, not faint). Clearly its going to be a full cider variety west country style cider - I recall my last outing with Olivers cider, and this smells from the start more balanced and measured. To taste... wow, there is a lovely blend of fruit in here. True enough the tannin and acidity are controlled - probably by the filtering - and its all rather complex yet gentle. Shezam really is well done - I would have said that it isn't missing anything but thats not quite true. Once again, heavy filtering has limited the cider a touch - and I do wonder if this isn't the full juice answer to what the big companies offer - they dilute, smaller companies filter...

The aftertaste is pretty long despite the filtering and its at this point I realise that I dont feel or taste any sweetening in this cider. It doesn't feel excessively dry, but it certainly doesn't feel sweetened either. Delicious!

So, to the score. Well, despite the filtering being an issue once again for me Shezam magics itself a silver apple from me with a score of 84/100. Its a wonderfully well put together cider even if it has been limited.

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