Thursday 3 January 2013

Knights Cider Company Malvern Gold Cider

Starting 2013 with nothing less than a contradiction:-) To paraphrase the label; "The blend of apples captures the character and freshness that can only be attained when real apples and quality become the primary am of the cider maker ". I personally don't dislike that statement. In fact, I find it hard to disagree with - it captures the passion and spirit of traditional cider makers fairly well.

Knights Cider... rings a bell, though its not clear why on the bottle. This looks a wholesome and its even made on a farm judging by the address. Malvern also rings a bell. Given this I did a quick search on previous reviews and found two matches. Aston Manors Knights Cider and Aston Manors Malvern Press. Notice the common thread? I hate it when I have to dig around to find anything out about something like this, but a quick Google search took me to the 'Ratebeer' and then on to Knights Ciders own website which is... no, don't hold your breath... wholly owned by Aston Manor. In fact it is their 'exclusive range'.

It comes to something when a company has to hide its own identity for fear that someone like me will instantly judge the cider as 'commodity' (to put it politely)! However, I tried this cider already so if there is any damage its already been done... its already scored and I am not going to change that for this discovery!

I do have some issues with the way Aston Manor market themselves, but they are by no means the only ones that do it. I tend to refer to these companies as the 'Diageo's' of the cider world. After all, do you know how many brands Diageo own and sell? (For those who don't, I cannot provide an exhaustive list, but lets just mention Smirnoff, Gordons, Baileys, Guiness, Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan, Bells and about 15+ whiskys'). OK, cider makers are not to that scale, but it can be a challenge to find out who makes what sometimes and I personally find it a little annoying.

Anyway, lets get on with this cider. After all, it looks deep and golden in the bottle - if a little too polished and bright. However, how does this cider stack up against its own statement (which in hindsight comes across as mere marketing speak now I know who makes the stuff!)

It has a spritzig of fizz as it is poured out, which settles into a low sparkle that lifts the smell a bit. Its aroma is gently juicy and fruity - not a big smeller then. All in all it looks fairly pleasing, albeit it has been filtered to within an inch of its life. I suspect it is pasteurised too, as it is a medium cider and the maker states 'no sweeteners' - so they will have had to use either sugar or juice.

The taste itself is rather juicy and, to be honest, it is pretty watery too. For a cider at 6% I do wonder whether the alcohol content has been raised and cut back to 6% for it to be this watery. The fruit and complexities (tannin and acid) are very well balanced, albeit watered down and very mild. In all, its a cider which is eminently drinkable but leaves me feeling unchallenged and my taste-buds rather uninspired.

The aftertaste is pretty short on flavour too. My notes ask 'where did it go'?

So, in summary, this is a reasonably nice cider with a reasonable amount of fruit and tannin going on to make it 'west country'. But. Being pretty watery and light on flavour (and juicy) I doubt it is going to satisfy those seeking a real 'exclusive' taste - or simply the cider drinker of experience. Its one of those ciders that give more than just a commodity cider but not much more.

With a score of 67/100, Malvern Gold is respectable but misses an apple (and that could actually be quite a meaningful statement on more than one level:-)

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