Thursday 7 June 2012

Waitrose Low Alcohol Cider

Having taken a bit of a pop at the nation for our alcoholic ways, I felt that the responsible thing to do was to try a couple of low alcohol alternatives. Hmmm, to be honest I wasn't sure if these would even qualify as a cider outside of the USA (note - in America, they call apple juice 'cider' and cider is 'hard' cider). I am pretty sure its not going to be full juice. I haven't the foggiest idea how they get the cider down to its 1% abv. without making it mostly water...

I have a couple to try, and these will compete with all the other ciders on equal merits. Its all about the taste eh. If its really good it surely must challenge the idea of strong cider in some regard... although that would probably be riding roughshod over the full juice traditions. I note from the Waitrose bottle that 'It is matured in old oak vats and the process used to produce the cider is controlled so while that low in alcohol it is full of flavour'.

I do have an idea of who made this for Waitrose, but I am not certain by any means. It looks like it has a Weston's feel, but please don't go by that - I am not sure. I guess the best way to do this is simply to try the thing - so without trying to put it off any further I had better open it (interesting attitude isn't it... I guess that reflects our relationship with low alcohol drinks in the UK).

So, lets do this properly - if its the same as the Sainsbury's I can then just cut and paste:-) It is a faint, yellow looking cider. I would say it looks watery even. It pours out with little fizz, and you get a tannic and cidery smell with it... which for the look of it is a bit odd. There is also a chemical smell behind it too. And then its time to drink. Well, it definitely tips its hat towards cider as there seem to be remnants of cider underneath what seems to be a very sweet and syrupy taste. See, looks aren't everything; I thought it looked watery but actually the taste is syrupy.

I have to say that nothing here so far should be a surprise. You can adjust everything in a cider these days - you can buy colour, flavour and even aroma in a tin! And I think this is what is going on here - look at the ingredients list. The first ingredient is generally the biggest part, reducing as the list goes on. In this one, water is the main ingredient, followed by 'cider base' and apple juice from concentrate. OK, I think there is enough for the hardcore cider elite to ignore it - although bear in mind this is a low alcohol cider so there is no way its ever going to be a straight forward drink!

The taste of the cider is acceptable. I think low alcohol drinks have moved on in the last 20 years. However, its not exactly 'no' alcohol (0.5 units per bottle). I guess the acid test is whether, as nominated driver, I would choose it. And that answer is probably yes.

There is a sickly aftertaste to it although the juice comes through too.

So, this is a cider that has been taken apart and put back together in a slightly different format. Its OK but not exactly the pinnacle of cider making. The ingredients list reads like a horror story from the cider cellar - although this is expected from a cider in this market.

With a score of 55/100 its not on my favourites list, but its really nothing to be scared of! And, with the industry trying to shed a billion alcohol units from somewhere, this leaves three of four less to achieve (but please, lets not make cider a low alcohol drink all round:-)

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