Gwynt y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy

After the everyone’s favourite the Black Dragon (see the review here) the Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy is another cider from this Welsh cider maker that I have the pleasure to sample. The Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy has picked up a number of awards in the UK and Australia. 
Company:
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider and Perry Company
Place of Origin: Pontypridd, Wales, UK
Apples: cider apples grown by traditional methods in ageing orchards
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear orange with no head. Low petillant-type carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is dominated by sulphur, with notes of red apples in the background and caramel. This is all I picked up.

Taste: it begins with a high amount of caramel-like sweetness, which classifies this cider in my opinion rather as sweet than medium. The acidity level is low and lemon-like. Similarly as on the nose, a hint of sulphur with notes of red apple and apple juice. The finish has a low to moderate astringent taste with a refreshing note of crisp apple.

Overall: a sulphur note is not exactly my favourite flavour. Especially, if the sulphur flavour dominates the aroma, thus simply acting as a turn-off to me. The palate is much better than the nose overpowered by sulphur as it comes with a pleasant apple forward taste. But still, I can’t call this flavour not superb. In addition, I found the level of sweetness way too high to my liking. But again, if you don’t mind the sulphur flavour and you have a sweet tooth you may find this cider refreshing. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it again. 3/6

Availability: from their online shop. in the UK from BeerRitz, Dylans Wine, N.D. John Wine Merchants, Mumbles Fine Wine, Blas Ar Fwyd , CWM Deri, The Old Railway Line.In Finland from Alko.fi.  In Berlin from Hopfen & Malz. Online in Germany from Cider and More. in the Netherlands from Het Ciderhuis, Speciaalbierenwinkel.nl, Biernavigatie.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Hopfen & Malz at 3.5 EUR.

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UAB Italiana La’ Colvert Cidre

As I couldn’t find what actually La’ Colvert means in French, I asked my French colleague to translate it for me. According to her, ‘ la’ ‘ looks more Italian than French. But colvert is indeed French for mallard duck. Although, the full French name is actually ‘canard colvert’. Yeah, the bottle of this Lithuanian cider with a French-sounding name indeed has colours of a mallard duck. Company: UAB Italiana LT
Place of Origin: Kaunas, Lithuania
Apples: unknown apple varieties from Lithuanian orchards
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass champagne bottle sealed with a champagne cork with cage
Recommended type of glass: flute or chalice glass
Ingredients: fermented apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and potassium sorbate.

Appearance: pours a clear very pale straw with a white quickly dissipating fizz, high carbonation and light body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity with pear, green apple, a note of an apple juice from concentrate and an artificial note.

Taste: it begins syrupy sweet with no acidity, followed by fruity notes, pear, a note of apple juice concentrate, green and yellow apples, and a vinous taste. Prickly and chalky aftertaste. No tannins.

Overall: I can’t really see much difference between la’ Colvert and previously reviewed Herisson. The latter tastes sweeter or at least this is how I remembered it. But artificial notes are still present similarly in both of them. Just an alco-pop. I’m really surprised that this alco-pop was recommended to me in a wine store. Shouldn’t a wine store offer only good and quality products? This was the first and only time drinking this one. Never again. 2/6

Availability: at most supermarkets and wine stores in Poland such as Tesco or Auchan. Found it also here, dobrewino.pl or at Dar Wina.

Price: purchased a while ago from Biale czy Czerwone in Warsaw at 11.5 PLN (2.75 EUR). I was told that this is their bestselling cider :-/

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt #8

Manfred Böhm from Mulfingen, Baden-Wüttemberg is a representative of a new generation of German cider makers. Manfred blends traditional and local apple varieties to create a cider that has a lower acidity than traditionally made viez, local apple wine. His #8 is made with only winter varieties. And, Bittenfelder Sämling is the main variety used in the blend. Bittenfelder Sämling comes from Baden-Wüttemberg and is a typical apple variety used for making viez. Company: Böhm Cider Werkstatt
Place of Origin: Mulfingen, Baden-Wüttemberg, Germany
Apples: 
a blend of winter varieties including Bittemfelder Sämling
ABV:
 8.7%
Package type:
500 ml amber glass bottle with flip-top cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with an orange hue and a little white head that quickly dissipates. Low carbonation. Body is also low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with notes of toffee, bubble gum, low orange, ripe banana, very ripe apples, baked apples, alcohol.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Low astringency, a touch of the bitterness of burnt caramel, bubble gum, red apples, low toffee and low astringency. Finishes with a note of apple-seed bitterness, baked apples and very ripe apples, a touch of lemon acidity and cloves. And, a touch of warmth from the alcohol.

Overall: This is definitely not a summer cider. It’s heavy and very alcoholic too. Its taste is clear, not yeasty just like it was last time when I tried #5. I think it could make a great cider for winter as it really warms up. But trust me it’s an effect that is undesired at 34 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, #8 is one of the ciders that are like an archaeological site. The longer you dig, the more you can explore as notes keep coming all the time. It’s a very interesting cider that I would like to try again on a winter evening. 5/6

Availability: Unfortunately, not available commercially yet.

Price: a sample of this cider was provided by Manfred

Thatchers Gold

After reading the article ‘A fine cider sommelier judges the UK’s worst ciders‘, I’ve looked at the comments and noticed that Thatchers Gold was the only cider that was regarded by the readers as an actually quite pleasant tasting cider. I was really surprised to read this so I’ve decided to sample Thatchers Gold next.Company: Thatchers Cider
Region of Origin: Somerset, Winscombe, England
Apples: selected apples, many of which are harvested in Somerset (and the rest? where do they come from?)
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 4.8%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a white foam, which quickly dissipates. Carbonation level is medium and likely artificial. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is weak and exerts notes of dessert apples, including red and yellow apples with a light hint of sulphur (like matches) and candies.

Taste: it begins watery and moderately sweet with low citric acid-like acidity. The mid-palate has faint notes of yellow and red dessert apples, apple juice, light sulphuric note and a hint of green apples. In the aftertaste, I can detect a light caramel note with a touch of apple seed-like bitterness.

Overall: Gold is a typical cider made from dessert apples judging by the taste. It’s drinkable, even refreshing due to the light acidic and crisp taste, but still average. It’s not bad, but I can’t say it stands out of ciders made from dessert apples. The nose is very similar nose to the Aspall dry with a sulphur note resembling matches. However, the Aspall’s nose was much worse. Taken together, I would consider the Gold as an alternative to ciders made from concentrate, but that’s all. 3/6

Availability: from most supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s or Tesco. Online from Booze Cruiser. In Berlin from Hopfen und Malz, Drink DrunkGetränkefeinkost and Flaschbierschop. In Germany from The English Shop, Flaschbierschop, Cider & More. In the Netherlands from CiderCider.

Price: purchased online from The English Shop at 3.49 EUR.

Les Celliers Associés L’Authentique French Cider Pear

I’m very much intrigued by the label of this product released by Les Celliers Associés. It is claimed to contain 100% French apples but when you take a look at the ingredient list, you’ll discover that apart from French cider, pear juice from concentrate, natural flavour, green lemon flavour and potassium bi-disulfite has been added. And, it’s called Pear. This is quite misleading, don’t you think? Company: Val de Rance
Place of Origin: Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Brittany, France
Ingredients: French cider, pear juice from concentrate, natural flavour, green lemon flavour, potassium bi-disulfite. 
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with an orange hue and a large white head that slowly dissipates. Medium carbonation. Low to medium body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and smells artificial of pear. Hints of caramel and apple stems.

Taste: it begins sweet with low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, artificial notes of pear and pear ice with hints of caramel. Finishes with a note typical for a juice from concentrate.

Overall: Adding flavours and juice from concentrate to real cider should be not only banned but also punished! All I can get here is an artificial flavour of pear both on the nose and on the palate and a note typical for juice from concentrate. Somewhere deep in the background one may find a note of caramel that most probably comes from cidre that was used here. Why use pear from concentrate if you can use fantastic juice from perry pears? This is a complete misunderstanding. I wish I can quickly forget that I had it all. 1/6 

Availability: in Finland online through Redbev, in Germany through Ebrosia and Vinoscout.  In the UK through Dunnels. And, many more.

Price: a sample was provided by Nolwenn from Les Celliers Associés.

Julian Erkert Cider Manufaktur Fat Cat Cider 2018

Julian’s adventure with cider began in 2017 when he tried Aspall Cider in a London pub for the first time. Back in Switzerland, he ordered whatever cider from England he could find, which only strengthened his passion for cider. Funny enough, Julian lives in Thurgau, a region of Switzerland well known for apple production. So, Julian started reading about apple varieties grown in this area and contacted local apple producers, which in Autumn 2017 led to making his own three cider varieties. Next year, due to a great harvest and positive feedback he established Julian Erkert Cider Manufaktur and released his first cider, the Fat Cat named after his fat cat Carlo, who usually sits under Julian’s apple tree.

Company: Julian Erkert Cider Manufaktur
Place of Origin: Tägerwilen, Switzerland
Apples: Engishofer, Sauergrauech, Usterapfel, Klosterapfel, Bohnapfel, Schneiderapfel, grauer Hordapfel and two unknown bittersweet varieties
ABV: 5.9%
Package type: 330 ml clear glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or pint glass. Julian recommends drinking straight from the bottle.

Appearance: pours cloudy pale amber with a light orange hue and a slowly dissipating white head. Medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong with notes of bubble gum, red apples, a hint of lemon, orange and banana.

Taste: it begins with a touch of sweetness and low citrusy acidity. On the mid-palate notes of orange, lemon, low bitterness of grapefruit peat and low to medium astringency. Finishes with a note of apple stem, bubble gum and citrusy acidity of lemon and orange. Red and yellow apples.

Overall: believe me or not but it’s been another super murderously hot day in Berlin. And, I really needed a glass of refreshing cider. Luckily for me, I grabbed a bottle of Julian’s creation, Fat Cider. As it turned out, it has been a brilliant decision as Fat Cat did the job. Not only it was very drinkable and citrusy refreshing, but it also had lovely gentle tannins that rounded up the taste and many notes that appeared while I drank it. Interestingly, Fat Cat is gently citrusy although the level of acidity is not high at all, thus it can be hugely appreciated by a crowd. To me, it’s a cider to enjoy and drink every day. Not only in summer but also in winter. Also, I think that Fat Cat is very food-friendly as it will go well with any food. I would really like to drink it again. Grab the Fat Cat if you have a chance! Well done, Julian. 5/6 

Availability: local restaurants and bars in Tägerwillen. And, directly through Julian.

Price: a sample was provided by Julian himself

Perry’s Puffin

George Perry, managing director at Perry’s Cider from Somerset, UK is one of the entrepreneurs who doesn’t see Brexit as something that will help the business grow. The production cost will most probably increase and sales will go down. I hope that after Brexit I will still be able to get a decent cider from the UK at a reasonable price. Let’s see what the future brings. Next cider from Perry’s lineup is the Puffin.  Company: Perry’s Cider
Place of Origin: The Cider Mills, Dowlish Wake, Somerset, UK
Apples: unknown varieties
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with a light orange hue with a huge short-lived white head. Medium to high carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells dry of fermented apples, orange, red apples with hints of funk, beeswax and leather.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with the moderate to high acidity of lemon. Strong astringent taste, a light watery note with grapefruit, a light smoky note and lemon. It finishes dry with a light bitter taste and light grapefruit. The finish is rather short.

Overall: this is not going to be one of my favourite ciders. It’s a complex, balanced cider with typical flavours for a cider made with cider apples. The finish could be a bit longer cause the flavours don’t linger on. Personally, I found it too dry (it actually happens sometimes) and a bit too acidic. But I think it’s good that Perry’s try to have a cider that can be suitable for every palate. Although, as mentioned earlier, I don’t think that the Puffin will find a very broad audience. But those who like bone-dry cider with quite a high acidity will gonna love it. I would buy it again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. 4/6 

Availability: from their online shopScrattings, Bristol Cider ShopFetch the Drinks, Brewers Droop, Beers by Post. In Denmark online from Klosterbryggeriet and in Germany from Ciderhof.

Price: purchased from Scrattings at 2.5 GBP (2.83 EUR)