Gibbet Oak/Nightingale Cider Company Tenterden Cider

This is another cider from Gibbet Oak, which came with my cider subscription offered by Orchard Box. Tenterden is the name of a cider I am reviewing today and a city in Kent, UK. The name Tenterden apparently comes from ‘Tenet Waraden’, which in the Old English means a clearing in the forest, belonging to the men of Thanet.

Gibbet Oak rebranded recently so their new name is Nightingale Cider.
Gibbet Oak
Place of Origin: Tenterden, Kent, UK
Pears: apples grown on the farm
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.7%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass, pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a slightly hazy straw yellow with no head. Still. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has a light funk with notes of fresh red apples, green notes with a distant light sulphur.

Taste: the first sip is a bit watery with a moderate level of sweetness and low lemon-like acidity. Then comes the lingering smokiness with a flavour of red and yellow apples and a touch of alcohol. Very light tannins, green notes with elderflower and a touch of lemon peel to the end.

Overall: I thought the Tenterden was unspectacular. It’s drinkable but easy to forget. I think that the amount of eating apples used is just too high, thus making this cider taste pretty average. Moreover, the Tenterden could be slightly less sweet. Also, the booze note in the aftertaste is disturbing. In summary, Gibbet’s Oak Tenterden can be eventually regarded as an alternative to commercial ciders but that’s all. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it again. 2.5/6 

Availability: seems to be available locally in Kent from Gibbet Oak Farm Shop and online from eebria.

Price: arrived with my cider subscription from Orchard Box.


Abavas Apple Cider Medium

It wasn’t Australia or France, as it is in many cases, that inspired Mārtiņš Barkāns to make cider. It was his honeymoon in the beautiful Toscana in Italy that made him want to produce wine in Latvia. Exactly, wine from grapes, not cider. But since it can take up to three years or even longer to establish a grapevine plantation that can make the first vintage, Mārtiņš’s focus turned in the meantime to fruit wines. Surprisingly, making cider, apple wine and wine from various fruits became Abavas’ core business and today cider makes an important part of their product portfolio.

Today I’m sampling Abavas’ Apple Cider Medium, made from selected Latvian apple varieties and matured 8 months at low temperatures. Previously I’ve tried their Ābolu Vīns Sausais, Premium Brut and Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple.

Company: SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”
Place of Origin: 
Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia
a blend of selected Latvian apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a massive short-lived white head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and lightly vinous with notes of yellow apple, melon, guava and some fresh sawdust.

Taste: it begins moderately sweet with a moderate crisp acidity of lemon. The taste moves then to light notes of fresh sawdust and ripe yellow apples, lingering overripe yellow apples, light tropical fruits of melon, some pear and a light vinous note. It finishes dry with a lingering lemon candy acidity, some distant bitterness with notes of grapefruit, light herbal notes in the aftertaste and a touch of alcohol.

Overall: Abavas Apple Cider Medium comes in a champagne bottle, which suggests that that the cider maker thought it tastes best at higher carbonation level. I have to disagree. When I poured it into a champagne glass, I thought it tasted average. But when I let it stay for a couple of minutes and tried again, I thought I’m drinking a completely different cider. I found it then very elegant, fruity, apple flavour driven, not overly sweet with a beautiful long finish. I enjoyed their Apple Cider Medium, but I think that high carbonation level is a disservice to this cider. Overall, a very drinkable and tasty cider that is best to consume a few minutes from opening. But I encourage you to make your own opinion about Abavas’ Apple Cider Medium. 4.5/6 

Availability: in Finland from ALKO. In Belgium from Cideris, in the Netherlands from CiderCider, and in Latvia from Spirit & Wines.

Price: Apple Cider Medium was a sample provided by Abavas.

Note: Abavas will attend the craft cider concept exhibition – “same but different” at ProWein in Düsseldorf in March 2018.

SeaCider Medium Dry

Mark Francis is a former brewer from Brighton, Sussex, UK, who went to the cider side. What made him switch to cider? Abandoned apple orchards with apple trees covered with apples that he would pass on the way to pubs in the Sussex countryside with his beer delivery. And, no local cider in Sussex pubs. So together with Matt Billing he founded SeaCider, which is now one of the largest cider producers in Sussex.

Company: SeaCider

Place of Origin: Ditchling, Hassocks, Sussex, UK
Apples: Gala and Bramley among others
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml  clear glass with crown cap

Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy golden with no foam. No visible carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is sweet and fruity with notes of yellow apples, raspberry, strawberry and honey.

Taste: it begins very sweet, far sweeter than advertised medium dry. Also, I can’t get any acidity able to balance the sweetness. On the mid-palate notes of raspberry, strawberry, yellow apples with a light astringent taste. The aftertaste has a faint acidic touch with notes of crisp yellow apples and a distant bitter taste.

Overall: the taste of SeaCider’s Medium Dry is similar to an apple juice, not cider. It’s very sweet and nicely fruity with some depth. It doesn’t taste too bad, but the lingering sweetness is extremely tiring. Especially for those preferring dry cider like me. SeaCider’s Medium Dry is an okey-ish and drinkable cider, but not great. I wouldn’t buy it again as for me it’s simply too sweet. But it is a good offering for an average consumer who likes hers/his cider on the sweeter cider and is looking for a tipple made from real fruit, not concentrate. 3/6

Availability: only in the UK. Mainly in Sussex. Online through Fetch the Drinks.
Price: paid 4.90 GBP for a pint in The Grapes in Liverpool (not to confuse with the Beatles pub).

Redbrook Perry Polosuchý

Pears used to make Redbrook’s Perry Polosuchý come from orchards established in 1994. However, the fruit growing tradition in Dřínov, Czech Republic stretches back to the second half of the twentieth century.  Today I give you Redbrook’s Perry Polosuchý.Company: Redbrook Cider
Place of Origin: Dřínov, Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic
Apples: a blend of Czech pears from Jiří Hubáček’s orchards
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with light faint amber hues and a white foam reducing to a ring. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is sweetish and lightly vinous with notes of pear juice and ripe juicy pears, red apples and a light woody touch of stems.

Taste: my first taste is a bit sweeter than semi-sweet with no acidity. Then it gets creamy, almost like vanilla ice cream with notes of ripe juicy pear, woody notes of stems, light banana, gentle vinous note and very distant astringent taste. Towards the finish, I get a distant bitter and earthy note with a lingering note of stems.

Overall: Redbrook’s Perry tastes more interesting than the previously sampled Original Polosuchy as it has more depth and a richer set of flavours. I think it’s drinkable and I liked its almost ice-cream-like creaminess and complementing woody notes of stems. But still, it lacks qualities of a great perry. In my opinion, it can be likeable, especially by those who like sweet stuff. Also, I think that the Redbrook’s Perry could go well with desserts such as ice-cream or sweet pancakes. 3.5/6

Availability: only in the Czech Republic through Pochutnejsi and Sklizeno. Also, available in many bars and restaurants around the Czech Republic.

Price: Perry Polosuchý was a sample provided by Redbrook Cider.

Mac Ivors Medium

Did you know that County Armagh, where Mac Ivors Cider is based, is Ireland’s apple capital? Annually the County Armagh orchards produce 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of apples. More than that, there is even the famous apple festival, Apple Blossom Festival taking place each year in May celebrating Armagh’s heritage. Legend says that it was Saint Patrick in person, who planted the first apple tree at Ceangoba, east of Armagh City. However, the most orchards were set up in this fruit-growing region in the 1600’s. But the MacNeice orchards, where apples for Mac Ivors Cider come from, were established around 1855 and today manage around 110 acres. I’m having their Medium today, another award-winning cider from Mac Ivors’ line-up.Company: Mac Ivors Cider
Place of Origin: 
Ardress, Portadown, Armagh County, Northern Ireland, UK
a blend of over ten apple varieties incl. Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey
Sweetness as per label: 
Package type:
500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  
pint glass, chalice glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear straw with light greenish hues and a white short-lived foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it has a sweet and funky aroma with notes of lemon candy, pineapple, yellow, red and green apples and distant sulphur.

Taste: it starts medium sweet with low acidity. Pineapple, yellow apples, red apple with a hint of green apples, light red berries, light oak, lemon juice and lemon candy, light astringent taste and hints of funk appear on the mid-palate. In the aftertaste light grapefruit or bitter lemon bitterness with a light sulphur note and an earthy hint to it.

Overall: Mac Ivor’s Medium is a nicely refreshing cider with delicious notes of apples, lemon and pineapple. Surprisingly, it’s only slightly sweeter than their Traditional Dry, which I reviewed previously. In short, Mac Ivor’s Medium tastes like a lovely fusion of cider and lemon candy. I would like to taste it again served cold in the summer when it’s warm as I can imagine it would be truly refreshing. Food wise, I would pair it with poultry or a light meal. 4.5/6

Availability: widely available within the UK and Ireland, e.g. from Wines & Spirits or Emersons. In Germany from Bierkontor in Nuremberg, Bierothek LeipzigGetränkefeinkostDr. Hops, Uptown Coffee Bar and Olea in Leipzig, Getränkehandel Köthen  and The Shamrock – Irish Pub in Köthen, Fliese, Die Bierkanzlei and Rosis’s in Halle, Hopfenspeicher in Chemnitz, Der Shop am Hassel and Flowerpower in Magdeburg, Schankwirtschaft “Zur schwarzen Kunst” in Görlitz, Altes Handelshaus in Plauen, Landgasthof Dehnitz in Wurzen-Dehnitz, Getränkehandel Mierisch in Freital, Quedlinburger Wein- und Tabakhaus Trense in Quedlinburg. In Italy from Sidro & Cider. In France through Craft Cider Selection.

Price: MacIvors was a sample provided by Greg from MacIvors Cider.

Mr. Plūme Ābolu Karstsidrs 2016

It’s been terribly cold with lots of snow in most parts of Europe for the past two weeks, so similar to most of you I’ve reached for the mulled cider to warm myself up. Since Mr. Plūme, a cider maker from Latvia provided me with a few bottles of their products, and one of them included mulled cider, I’ve decided to give it a go first.

Mr. Plūme is based in Lielvārdes novads, right in the middle of Latvia and actually consists of,  Mr. and Mrs. Plūme, respectively Māris and Dace. I’d better start reviewing before my mulled cider gets cold.Company: Mr. Plūme sidra darītava
Place of Origin: Jumpravas pagasts, Lielvārdes novads, Latvia
Ingredients: a blend of local apple varieties with cinnamon and cloves
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass with natural cork
Recommended type of glass: ceramic, porcelain or glass mug
Way to serve: bring to a simmer, but don’t boil. You can add extra sugar or honey if desired. Can be served also slightly chilled.

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. No visible carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is lightly acidic and fruity and exhibits notes of yellow apples, baked apples, cinnamon, cloves and a hint of lemon. Almost smells like an apple pie.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet with low to medium refreshing acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate freshly cut juicy yellow and red apples, cinnamon, a very distant astringent taste, light cloves. It finishes dry with a taste of baked apples, yellow apples, the refreshingly crisp acidity of lemon and a light flavour of cinnamon and cloves.

Overall: Ābolu Karstsidrs 2016 from Mr. Plūme tastes simply glorious! It’s light but still full-bodied, has a lovely taste of freshly cut juicy yellow and red apples,  rounded up with spicy aroma of cinnamon and cloves. Mulled cider how it should be, apple forward with a hint of spices to it. I gave it a try also at room temperature before warming it and I was similarly delighted. Summarizing, Ābolu Karstsidrs 2016 from Mr. Plūme is a lovely offering that will please any crowd and even make you enjoy these cold winter days. 5/6 

Availability: available from Mr. Plūme. Seasonally at farmers markets and many other places in Latvia. Possibly also from Siidrimaja in Estonia, Holm Cider in Copenhagen and MostBirnHaus in Austria.

Price: Ābolu Karstsidrs 2016 was a sample provided by Māris from Mr. Plūme.

Ross-on-Wye Ashton Brown Jersey

Ashton Brown Jersey is a relatively young cider apple variety grown at the National Fruit and Cider Institute, Long Ashton, Bristol in 1903. It’s a cider apple with hard tannins producing full-bodied medium bittersweet cider. Ashton Brown Jersey is not often found as a single variety, it’s rather used as part of a blend.

Ashton Brown Jersey is my first cider from the multi-award winning cider producer from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, the Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company.Company: Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company
Place of Origin: Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: single varietal, from Ashton Brown Jersey
ABV: 6.2%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with plastic screw cup
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: no sulphites, unpasteurised

Appearance: pours a hazy golden with orange hues and a white short-lived head. Medium to high carbonation. Body is low. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is acidic and wild with notes of barnyard, beeswax, grapefruit, orange, light sulphur and a hint of red apples and vinegar.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet with a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a strong watery note with a touch of smoke, a moderately astringent taste, hint of sulphur and a distant acetic note. It finishes dry, citrusy and crisp with notes of grapefruit, blood orange, a touch of grapefruit flesh-like bitterness and a hint of beeswax. It gets more bitter the more you drink it.

Overall: as mentioned in the introduction part, Ashton Brown Jersey is a cider apple variety that is almost always blended with other cider apples. You don’t see many cider producers launching single varietal cider with Ashton Brown Jersey. After tasting this cider I can see why. It lacks body, the initial taste is fruity but rather unexciting with a strong watery flavour. Also, I didn’t pick up any apple flavour here. But the taste improves with every sip towards pleasant and refreshing notes of citruses including grapefruit and blood orange. So I can imagine it would taste lovely once it gets warm outside again. Overall, the Ashton Brown Jersey is worth trying. Also, if you’re looking for a lighter cider then I think it’s a good option. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop.

Price: Ross-on-Wye’s Ashton Brown Jersey was a donation from Phil of Pulp Craft Cider who I met up with at the Manchester Cider Festival 2018.