Wednesday 25 July 2012

Merrydown Dry Cider

OK. I had planned to get to this one eventually (its not as easy to get hold of as the more popular medium version), but a little encouragement from Merrydown themselves (or was it their PR people?!) has led me to Asda where I found just a single bottle amongst the sweeter versions.

Recalling the medium review, there were several issues that I had with it. However, on the whole I didn't die from drinking it and it really wasn't that bad... well, worse than many and better than many too (I am not going to moderate this just 'cos I know that Merrydown is watching. I just won't say anything too libellous)

It is fair to say that Merrydown is a commodity 'brand' these days and not much more than that. Its a world away from the heritage cider world of Ross on Wye's (for example). However, you cannot argue with its' history. A Sussex based company using apples that were readily available to produce an eastern counties style of cider that was very popular... whatever happened to it in more recent years at least its still being produced (OK, I can hear some yelling that its not the same company or the same ethos). I tend to think of it in the same way as I would think of Symonds or Addlestones... they don't really exist anymore - they are just another 'department' of a conglomerate. However, at least the name has been preserved, unlike Whiteways for example. Mind you, is that enough?

Anyway, onto the cider. Well, as you might know if you have tried Merrydown before, its a highly sparkling straw coloured cider which is bright and clean looking. It has a floral aroma to it, which is befitting a cider made from dessert fruit. I have to say its a touch chemically too, but then even the best ciders can have that in the aroma.

To taste, well its not overly dry and very clean and smooth. The fruit is light - almost vinous, although the sparkle (or should I say fizz) is very persistent so breaks up the taste a little. I guess I would call this an off-dry cider - dessert apples often ferment out to very dry indeed with a stark taste. Well, if you have a sweet apple with a bit of acidity and limited flavour what do you end up with when all the sugar is fermented away? - mind you, I do not for a second think that this is a full juice cider. If I had to take a stab at it (and this is a personal point of view only) I would reckon on something less than 50% juice content.

The bottom line is that this is not an awful taste at all. It does have surprisingly less acid to it than I had expected, although it has probably been engineered out a bit, but if I were on a budget then this wouldn't be a bad cider to go for.

The aftertaste is somewhat lacking, although with its delicately controlled flavour I am not that surprised by that. I think I have said this about Merrydown (and a couple of others along the way); I cannot imagine this is how it 'used to taste'. Its one of those mysteries that those of us who never got to try the 'original' have to live with. Like the elusive 'Redstreak' of Lord Scudamore that was so proclaimed to produce such vintage cider making apples, Merrydowns original taste is lost to history (and, from what I have heard about it from those who remember it) something to regret.

This cider scored 63/100. So, no apple but respectable. I think it got hit a little on its 'fruitiness' - both the fruit in the body of the cider and its lack of acid that should be there in an Eastern style of cider were fairly low scoring. The tannin scored well because, well, frankly there shouldn't be much at all (and there wasn't). Not a bad dry cider from  company who take some flack for simply pandering to shareholders and producing a commodity product.


  1. Far better than the medium version, you are right about that. It's not painfull to drink, and it's really not that bad. It could be a wonderful drink if it was a full juice one... But that's what you get when big corporations are buying small producers. Sad... hope that the big producers/corporations are reading some of your reviews and comments and maybe some day it will make a difference.

  2. Thanks for the comments, I agree and would love to have tried a full juice version of this cider!

    I do think that this blog gets read (for some strange reason, Friels seems to attract a fair few visits and the odd 'anonymous' comment:-) However, do they take it seriously? Hmmmm.

    1. This is great but can anyone tell me where I can buy it pleasr

    2. Asda is where I got mine from. sadly, the medium is far easier to get hold of, although I am sure you could find it at most mainstream supermarkets.

  3. Thanks for the great reviews.
    I remember the original Merrydown Vintage Cider back in the late 90's-early Noughties and it really was special. It went for £1.99 at the time and I'd to treat myself to a bottle on a Friday night.
    I am no expert on cider but it was truly special. I've not tasted anything quite like it.

  4. I heave heard this before - I think its fall from grace may well be when they moved production from Sussex to somewhere in Belgium...

    Still, there are a growing number of full juice eastern style ciders around - and some are really excellent!