Orpens Cider

The story behind the brand name of the Irish cider maker Orpens is a very interesting one. Orpen is a maiden name of the grandmother of the founders, Chris. Charmain Orpen was the first female professional licensed jockey in history to legally compete with men. I couldn’t think of a more galloping brand name neither. Today I’m sampling an Irish cider proudly made from selected Irish apples. Company: Orpens
Place of Origin: Dublin, Ireland
Apples: a blend of selected Irish apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a short-lived white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells sweet of plain sugar and of sulphur – matches-like smell with elderflower, yellow apples and some fruitiness. The nose is rather weak.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a light acidity of lemon. Followed by a  watery note with yellow apples, light sulphur, a lightly vinous note and fruity flavour. It finishes with a sugary taste of lemon candy and green apples.

Overall: I’m sorry to say but I didn’t like it. Orpens Cider is clearly made from dessert or eating apples without the addition of any cider apples in the blend as there is no detectable taste of tannins. But even from dessert apples, a good cider maker can make an excellent cider. But Orpens cider, unfortunately, is not the case. The aroma of sulphur is overpowering on the nose and leaves pleasant fruity notes far behind. Taste wise it’s a sugary apple fizz with only little depth and a lingering sugary taste. It reminds me slightly of Aspall Cyder Draught, which I reviewed some time ago. Admittedly, Orpens cider tastes better than Aspalls’s but is still far from being good. I wouldn’t buy it again. Unless I had to choose between Magners and Orpens. 2.5/6

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Orpens Cider was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

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Finnbarra Tobairín

Time for a brief Irish lesson. Finnbarra, an Irish cider maker has created a light cider, with only 1.5% ABV and called it Tobairín. ‘Tobar’ means ‘well and ‘ín’ refers to small or light. Taken together, Tobairín means ‘little well’.

Interestingly, its low alcohol content is due to the second pressing of the apple pomace. Once fermented, Tobairín is back sweetened with fresh apple juice. Company: Nohoval Brewing Company Limited
Place of Origin: Nohoval, Kindle, County Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Elstar with Jonagored
ABV: 1.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: chalice glass or pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a white short-lived head. Medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose sweet freshly cut yellow and red apples with red berries, cranberries and a distant buttery note.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate cotton candy followed by a watery note, yellow and red apples, red berries such as strawberries, and cranberries. Finishes dry with a light astringent taste and a touch of buttery taste.

Overall: the ABV of barely 1.5% would rather suggest a high sweetness level, but to my surprise, Tobairín is not overly/syrupy sweet. It has a very palatable level of sweetness even to me. Also, the medium level of carbonation makes it a quite nice and refreshing cider. But the taste quickly disappears, doesn’t linger on given the fact that it is quite sweet. Anyway, it’s a good alternative for cider drinkers who are drivers at the same time. And, for those who like sweet cider. 3/6

Availability: in Ireland available as Stonewell Irish Cider, e.g. from Ardkeen, Baggot Street Wines or Redmonds of Ranelagh. In Germany available online from Cider Kultur or Ciderandmore. In Berlin from Hopfen und Malz.

Price: Tobairín was a sample provided by Cider Kultur

Mac Ivors Vintage Reserve Cider

Vintage Reserve Cider, launched in Summer 2017, is the newest addition to Mac Ivors’s line-up. As advertised by MacIvor’s, Vintage Reserve Cider is blended from their most mature stock of cider.  Interestingly, it’s available only in 330ml amber glass bottles so would I expect some good stuff here.   Company: Mac Ivors Cider
Place of Origin: Ardress, Portadown, Armagh County, Northern Ireland, UK
Apples: a blend of apple varieties incl. Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5%
Package type: 330 ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale gold with a white short-lived froth. Medium artificial carbonation and low body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is weak. I barely get anything. Some yellow apples, fresh and ripe yellow apples, some oakiness, hints of funk and distant apricots.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a low acidity of lemon. Notes of lemon peel, fresh yellow apples and a light astringent taste on the palate. Short finish with a light astringent taste and a hint of green apples and apricots. A very distant touch of bitterness appears at a later point.

Overall: Vintage Reserve Cider. That sounds proud and glorious. But the name doesn’t tell the truth and promises more than it delivers. I’m sorry to say but I expected more than an average tasting fizzy lemonade that lacks depth and has a short finish. The Vintage Reserve tastes watery, the flavours are not intense. Even weak. Admittedly, the Vintage Reserve tastes natural and is drinkable. Also, there are no disturbing flavours at all. But no drinking pleasure either. Nice try but this blend doesn’t seem to work. 2.5/6

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: Mac Ivors Vintage Reserve Cider was a sample provided by Greg from MacIvors Cider.

Longueville House Mór Cider

Mór Cider is a brand new offering from Longueville House, a family business run by William O’Callghan from Cork, Ireland. As you might recall from my earlier post about their Longueville House Cider, Longueville House is also famous for making Ireland’s only apple brandy. Interestingly, the Mór is actually their Longueville House Cider,  a slowly fermented cider made from Michelin and Dabinett cider apples, additionally matured for 6 months in their award-winning apple brandy casks. Why Mór? In Gaelic/Irish, the word Mór is often used to describe something great, big or senior.

Longueville House Cider Mór Cider might have been launched only recently, but it has already picked up Gold in the Dublin Craft Cider Cup 2018 at The Alltech Commonwealth Cup.
Company: Longueville House
Place of Origin: Mallow, Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Michelin and Dabinett varieties
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with an orange hue and a white short-lived head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has medicinal and herbal notes, light acetic note, hints of funk, beeswax, notes of grapefruit, red apples and still fermenting apples.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with a low acidity of lemon and low vinegar. On the mid-palate medicinal and herbal notes, a plain bitter taste, vanilla, light nail polish, notes of grapefruit, light astringent taste, orange, blood orange and grapefruit peel. It finishes dry, fruity and spicy at the same time with herbal notes, red apples, and a lingering astringent taste.

Overall: Mór is a very interesting and rich cider with a very broad palate of flavours. The maturation in apple brandy cask indeed added many notes and contributed to the complexity making the Mór tasting refreshing but at the same time heavy with the ABV of 8% (ABV is well hidden). With such a nice palate it will make a great winter cider. But personally, I prefer their Longueville House Cider much better. I guess it was just too heavy for my palate. Or it is too warm outside. Nevertheless, I think it is a very unique offering that will appeal to those who like heavy ciders. 4/6 

Availability: locally in Ireland in a number of restaurants/pubs/shops such as Joyce’s Supermarkets, O’Briens Wines or Super Valu Store. Online in Ireland from Ardkeen Quality Food Store, and online in Germany exclusively from CiderKultur, the Netherlands from Ciderwinkel.

Price: Longueville Mór was a sample provided by Longueville House and CiderKultur, a new webshop offering a wide selection of great cider.

Highbank Orchards Medieval Cider

Before I post my visit recap of CiderWorld 2018 I would like to share with you a review of cider that was available during CiderWorld at CiderKultur’s stand, a recently launched German webshop with craft cider.

Highbank Orchards is an organic farm based in Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, Ireland run by Julie and Rod Calder-Potts. The apple orchards were established in 1969 and have never seen any type of chemicals. Products offered by Highbank Orchards are strictly organic. Moreover, for their ciders, they use only apples and eventually honey for the Medieval Cider, which I’m going to review in a sec. They even don’t use sulphites “for freshness” how many cidermakers do. Today I give you the Medieval Cider from Highbank Orchards. Company: Highbank Orchards
Place of Origin: Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, Ireland
Ingredients: Irish organic apples with organic honey
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: it tries to escape the bottle after opening. Pours a hazy deep amber with a huge short-lived white head. Medium to high natural carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic and smells lovely with notes of buckwheat honey, light caramel, red apples, overripe and baked apples with cinnamon.

Taste: it starts medium with low acidity. Red apples, overripe apples, some earthy notes, light smoky note, cinnamon and a strong astringent taste on the mid-palate. It finishes dry with a strong lingering astringent taste, a light cinnamon flavour, lightly chalky taste, distant lemon and a light note of buckwheat honey.

Overall: when I read that the Medieval Cider is made with honey I wasn’t really looking forward to trying it as I don’t have a sweet tooth. But the review had to be done. So I tried it. And, WOW! This cider is excellent! It starts with a gentle lick of sweetness, which is still within a palatable range to me. Then you experience a strong lingering tannic kick, which I always love in cider, with a touch of red apples. The addition of honey gives extra flavours to an already tasty cider made from cider apples. Well, I’d prefer it would taste a bit less sweet but for all of you looking out for an ultra-tasty sweet cider, this is a great offering. It will go well on a summer afternoon but also in the winter due to the cinnamon flavour. You’re gonna love it! 5/6 

Availability: from their online shop and on their organic farmIn Germany exclusively from CiderKultur. In the Netherlands from Ciderwinkel.

Price: Medieval Cider from Highbank Orchards was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Mac Ivors Plum & Ginger Cider

Launched in 2016, Plum & Ginger is basically Mac Ivor’s Medium cider (for the past review click here) combined with plum and ginger juice. Interestingly, a combination of plum with ginger seems to be getting more and more popular in the UK & Ireland as Mac Ivor’s is not the only cider maker offering plum and ginger flavoured cider. The Garden Cider Company released a similar cider a while ago as well. 
Company: 
Mac Ivors Cider
Place of Origin: Ardress, Portadown, Armagh County, Northern Ireland, UK
Ingredients: a blend of ten apple varieties incl. Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey and plum and ginger juice
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear raspberry red with a white short-lived foam. Low to medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather sweet, fruity and spicy of ginger. The aroma exhibits notes of red fruits, strawberries, raspberries and plums.

Taste: it begins moderately sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate, a watery note, ginger and plum juice. The finish is dry and short with a lightly spicy with a note of ginger.

Overall: Plum & Ginger Cider is an offering for those who are looking for a refreshing combination of flavours. Admittedly, flavours of plum & ginger go well together. I enjoyed the gently spicy aftertaste to it. However, I wouldn’t call it cider. Rather an easy drinkable fortified plum and ginger juice. Plum & Ginger has no depth, no tannins, no apple flavours, thus I wouldn’t classify it as cider. Which doesn’t mean that Plum & Ginger is not drinkable or tastes somehow commercial? Not at all, it tastes natural and goes down easily, doesn’t taste too sweet and it’s pleasant for a juice. I just wouldn’t call it cider though. 3/6

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: Mac Ivors Plum & Ginger Cider was a sample provided by Greg from MacIvors 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
Apples: 
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: 
medium
ABV:
4.5%
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.