Stonewell Nohoval Apple Oak Wine

Today, I have a very special stuff to sample. It is an apple oak wine from Stonewell/Finnbarra. It is a blend of Dabinett and Michelin grown in County Laois and matured in French Burgundy oak casks for a minimum of 12 months. To be frank, Daniel from Stonewell/Finnbarra shipped this beauty to me shortly after CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt. But since summer arrived early this year and stayed until October, not exactly creating the right conditions for an apple oak wine I postponed the sampling until Autumn. Now the conditions are perfect for such a drop and I hope that Daniel will not be too angry with me.Company: Nohoval Brewing Company Limited
Place of Origin: Nohoval, Kindle, County Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Dabinett and Michelin grown in County Laois
ABV: 15%
Package type: 500ml amber wax sealed bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: sherry glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber. Still. Body is high.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong with notes of dried plums, vanilla, chocolate, dried apricots, baked apples, lightly sweet and red wine.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a low residual sweetness and a low level of acidity. Fresh and tangy apples followed by liquor-filled chocolates, berries, leaving a long-lasting note of red wine, vanilla and baked apples.

Overall: It was well worth the wait. It’s cold outside so a small glass of this apple oak wine can warm you up and set you in a good mood. Not only because it’s booze but because it’s a great booze. The level of sweetness is just right. Countless delicious flavours appear one after another turning the tasting experience into a never-ending but very enjoyable ride. With this drop in my cider stash, I hope the winter never ends. Daniel, can you please make more of this great stuff? 5/6

Availability: directly from Stonewell if they have any bottles left.

Price: Nohoval Apple Oak Wine was a sample provided by Daniel from Stonewell.

Na Cuana Cooney’s Cider

In June 2017, Adam’s Cider Company/Na Cuana have launched a new cider called Cooney’s Cider. The Cooney’s Cider was named after the founder, Pat Cooney, who used to own Ireland’s #1 drinks distribution company before he sold it to C&C (Bulmer’s owner). In 1994, Pat identified a cider niche and decided to bring his own cider to the market. So Pat planted his own cider apple orchards in Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary and Meath, County Tara with apple varieties such as Dabinett, Michelin, Ashton Bitter, Gilly and Yarlington Mill.

The Cooney’s Cider is the second cider after the Devil’s Bit I’m trying from Adam’s Cider Company/Na Cuana.Company: Adam’s Cider Company, a subsidiary of Na Cuana
Place of Origin: Lagavooren, Platin Rd., Drogheda, County Meath, Ireland
Ingredients: fresh apple cider, sugar, malic acid, sodium metabisulphite
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear straw with a light green hue and a little white fizz that quickly dissipates. Low to medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: I can barely get anything. Notes of sour yellow and green apples with a distant hint of vinegar and cinnamon.

Taste: it starts very sweet of sugar with a low acidity of lemon and a hint of vinegar. On the mid-palate a strong watery taste with faint hints of bittersweet apples, yellow apples, a touch of astringency and distant grapefruit. Finishes very quick with a touch of grapefruit-like bitterness leaving a light metallic aftertaste.

Overall: Cooney’s Cider is basically a sugary lemonade with a faint apple taste. It must be strongly diluted with water as the watery taste is very prevalent on the palate. You can tell that indeed cider apples were used for the production of Cooney’s but these cider flavours are unfortunately far in the background. Also, there is almost nothing on the nose, the finish is quick and leaves a metallic aftertaste. I’m sorry to say but Cooney’s Cider was barely drinkable to me. I’ve shared a bottle with a friend. And, although she has a sweet tooth, she didn’t enjoy having Cooney’s Cider as well. For the brave ones. 2/6

Availability: all over Ireland. In Germany from Ciderei.

Price: a sample was provided by Matt from Na Cuana.

Na Cuana Devil’s Bit Mountain Cider

The Devil’s Bit is an Irish cider brand owned by Adam’s Cider Company, a subsidiary of Na Cuana. Na Cuana means actually the Cooney’s in Irish. This is because the Cooney’s family is behind this business venture. Apart from cider, Cooney’s also have gin, vodka, whiskey and other alcoholic beverages in their portfolio. Anyway, Cooney’s set up Adam’s Cider Company in 1994, which means that the Devil’s Bit has been produced for almost 25 years. For the Devil’s Bit Mountain Cider, Conney’s use Dabinett, Michelin and Ashton Bitter, which come from their own orchards in Borrisoleigh and Tara in County Tipperary and Meath, respectively.Company: Adam’s Cider Company, a subsidiary of Na Cuana
Place of Origin: Lagavooren, Platin Rd., Drogheda, County Meath, Ireland
Ingredients: cider apples, spring water, sugar, malic acid, carbon dioxide, sodium metabisulphite
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml can
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a white head that quickly dissipates. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is not strong. Notes of red apples, bread, light caramel and a hint of nail polish.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet of caramel and sugar with the low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate red apples, some smoky notes and a touch of bitterness. Leaves a lingering caramel note with a flavour of lemon.

Overall: the Devil’s Bit tastes a bit like a Coca-Cola mixed with cider due to the prevalent flavour of caramel and high sweetness on the palate. Also, the aftertaste is exactly like after drinking a glass of coke. I think it’s drinkable but personally, I found it too sweet. And, the nose is very weak with barely detectable flavours. The Devil’s Bit has some depth, flavours of bittersweet cider apples and the taste that lingers on. Although the water was added, I can’t taste any watery taste. It tastes quite ok for a commercial cider. 3/6

Availability: all over Ireland.

Price: a sample was provided by Matt from Na Cuana.

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.

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: 500 ml 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.