Taunton Cider Medium

It looks that the revival of the Taunton Cider Company is far more important to the people of Taunton, Somerset than I initially imagined. When in 1805, local farmers formed a co-operative at Norton Fitzwarren to make cider it was the beginning of a great West Country product, which in 1911 led to the creation of the Taunton Cider Company. Although the producer has disappeared for many years from the UK cider map and only recently resumed operations, people of Taunton seem to be very proud of this company. At least this is my impression after reading the comments below my review of the Original Dry, which I also posted on Facebook. Today, I’m reviewing their Medium. Company: Taunton Cider Company
Place of Origin: Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apples: locally sourced Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Harry Masters Jersey
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear very pale amber with a white quickly dissipating head. Initially medium carbonation reducing to lightly sparkling within a minute. Artificial carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong. I can get notes of caramel, bittersweet apples, smokiness, hints of funk and sulphur.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet with a light acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate notes of caramel, cider apples, yellow apple, smokiness, bubble gum, watery, very low astringency and light oakiness. Finishes with a touch of bitterness and a hint of sulphur.

Overall: The level of sweetness is not the only difference between this cider and the Dry that I have previously reviewed. First of all, it’s much less watery (meaning that less water was added). Secondly, the Medium was clearly made with wild yeast as you can get the notes of funk and sulphur. Also, the taste was smoother but similarly rich in terms of flavours and good length. Despite the fact that it is classified as medium, it’s not overly sweet (because it was watered down). The Medium from the Taunton Cider Company is a good cider. I would buy it again and pair with moules-frites. 4/6 

Availability: only in the UK from Fetch the Drinks or British Corner Shop.

Price: a sample was provided by the Taunton Cider Company

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Taunton Cider Original Dry

The Taunton Cider Company is not exactly a new cider producer as it was established in 1911 in Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, Somerset. In the mid-90s, they used to be one of the largest cider companies in the UK producing 30 million gallons of cider annually, when it was bought by Matthew Clark, a drinks distributor owned by C&C Group. This is when they even had white cider in their portfolio. Suddenly, the Taunton Cider Company disappeared from the market in 2011. In 2016, it came back from the dead and moved back to Taunton, not far away from the previous location. Their range of ciders picked up even a few awards e.g. Bronze at the Royal Bath West 2017. Today’s review is on their Original Dry. Company: Taunton Cider Company
Place of Origin: Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apples: locally sourced Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Harry Masters Jersey
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a white quickly dissipating head. Medium, artificial carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong and rich with notes of caramel, bittersweet apples and sharp apples, vanilla, smokiness and something spicy. Also, after a while, I can get some hints of peat. The nose is clear and pleasant.

Taste: my initial taste is moderately sweet (definitely not dry) with a light acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate notes of caramel and light butter, cider apples, red and yellow apples, watery (like mineral water), medium astringency and light bitterness. The finish is dry with a caramel note and a gentle bitter taste of apple seeds.

Overall: it’s great to see that a company once producing white cider, has abandoned this past and moved towards proper cider. The Original is a quite decent cider with a very pleasant nose and good palate, thus it should satisfy every palate. Judging by the taste, the Original is clearly made from cider apples as it has no off-notes or flavours of apple juice from concentrate. But, the ABV level and the taste clearly indicate that it was watered down. Pity, cause I would like it more with full strength. But overall it is a fine cider. And, it’s rather medium dry than dry. A nice one. 4/6

Availability: only in the UK from Fetch the Drinks or British Corner Shop,

Price: a sample was provided by the Taunton Cider Company

Hogan’s Wild Elder

In terms of taste, elderflower might be associated with the spring or summer. But elderflower has also a wide range of health benefits, especially useful for this time of year. There is a solid scientific evidence that elderflower has antiviral & antibacterial effects and what’s more important it can boost the immune system. What I’m trying to say here is that if you’re looking for an excuse to drink cider with elderflower, just say it’s for your own good. This is why I put my hands on the Wild Elder from Hogan’s Cider.Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, elderflower cordial, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

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

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very aromatic and smells sweetish, a bit syrupy and fruity of elderflower and grapefruit. Also, I can get herbal notes.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with a low acidity. Elderflower and a smoky note with a lingering light astringency on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and has notes of elderflower with a touch of grapefruit bitterness.

Overall: If you call a beverage a cider it should taste like one, right? As for the Wild Elder, it has no apple aromas at all. You can taste only the elderflower cordial that was added. Perhaps a note of grapefruit, smokiness and the tannin give you a hint that the base for the beverage is or might be cider. Leaving this fact behind, I must admit that I enjoyed having the Wild Elder. It’s fruity, refreshing and the taste is intense and lingering. Those who like their beverages (intentionally I’m not using the word cider) on the sweeter side or simply those who like elderflower are gonna love it. Have it with cheese or simply on its own to protect yourself from the cold weather. 4.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In the Netherlands from CiderCider. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur.

Price: Hogan’s Wild Elder was a sample provided by Cider Kultur.

Cornish Orchards Gold (draught)

It all started in 1992 when Andy Atkinson arrived at the Duchy of Cornwall farm and planted three apple orchards. In 1999 he had one of the largest collections of Cornish apple varieties and established a cider producing company, Cornish Orchards, which was then acquired in 2016 by Fuller’s, the London Brewer and Pub Operator. It’s my first time trying anything from this cider maker. The Gold is a triple-filtered cider made from a mix of cider and dessert apples. Company: Cornish Orchards
Place of Origin: Duloe, Cornwall, UK
Apples: a blend of cider and dessert apples from Cornwall
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a little white foam. Medium carbonation. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: not so much on the nose. Smells of commercial apple juice with notes of lemon with a hint of citric acid.

Taste: it starts very dry and sour, you can actually taste citric acid throughout the whole sip. A note of commercial apple juice and a hint of green apples on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and sour with a lingering flavour of citric acid.

Overall: I didn’t find the Gold drinkable at all. Well, perhaps only in gulps, but not in sips. It’s really sad to see what happened when an award-winning company was taken over by Fuller’s. Also, this is a good example of what happens to cider after it is triple-filtered. Only a flavour of citric acid with a faint apple note remain. I wouldn’t buy it again. 2/6

Availability: broad in the UK. Bottled from Demon Drinks in Germany.

Price: paid 5.30 GBP at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 in the London’s Pride Pub.

Oliver’s At The Hop #7

Inspired by American cider makers who add hops to almost every cider they make, Tom Oliver created his own hopped cider, At The Hop. Tom infused cider with UK grown Cascade hops and Czech grown Kazbek hops, which supposedly add citrusy and floral notes to otherwise bland and dull cider.

In 2014, At The Hop picked up the first place at Royal Three Counties Agricultural Society show.

Company: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire, UK
Ingredients: US Cascade and Czech Kazbek hops
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear amber bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a light orange hue and a tiny white head that quickly dissipates. Medium natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong and actually pours out of the glass. The scent is rather sweet with notes of ripe honeydew, apricots, grapefruit flesh, orange and grapefruit peel. In the background apple flavour with hints of funk, leather and distant cucumber.

Taste: it starts with a low sweetness and a medium citrusy acidity. Light watery with some smokiness, medium astringency, notes of grapefruit flesh, orange and lemon, low apple flavour and hints of funk on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with a lingering grapefruit peel – like bitterness with a touch of lemon.

Overall: I’ve tried already a number of hopped ciders and none of them tasted any similar to what Tom Oliver has crafted. I can imagine that this is partly due to Czech Kazbek hops that were used in the blend. Both the scent and the palate are very unique and rich with lots of intensive flavours that linger on and on. Also, I thought it was very refreshing due to the lovely citrus flavours. But it’s not going to be my favourite cider of Tom. Personally, I found the apple flavour too far in the background. Also, the bitter note was a bit too strong for my liking. Hence, in my humble opinion, Tom’s At the Hop could be considered a good introductory cider for those who drink beer but want to try something new as the taste of the At The Hop is somewhere between beer and cider. As a cider drinker, I think I’ll stick to Tom’s cider made only with apples. 4.5/6

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop or Beer Revolution. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham, and many others. In Austria from Beer Lovers. In Copenhagen from Holm Cider. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s At The Hop #7 was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Dunkertons Browns

Browns is an English cider apple variety from South Devon producing a sharp juice that Dunkertons used for their single-varietal cider, the Browns. When I searched for other reviews about Dunkertons Browns, all I could find was oohing and aahing. I haven’t found a single bad review for the Browns. It seemed that literally, everybody likes the  Browns. In contrast to the wide appeal among cider drinkers, the Browns picked up only one award, first place in the International Cider Challenge 2016. As you can imagine, I got very intrigued.  Company: Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Brown’s from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white short-lived foam. Medium carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, slightly sour and fruity. On the nose hints of funk, vinegar, yellow apples, with a touch of sulphur.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with a low to medium acidity of lemon, and a touch of orange. Smokiness, yellow apples, light bitterness, again smokiness, a light to medium astringent note on the mid-palate. Finishes dry leaving a lingering orange and lemon note with medium astringency.

Overall: the Browns from Dunkertons is indeed an outstanding drop. It’s light, yet complex. Although the initial taste is rather sweet with no detectable acidity, suddenly and unexpectedly the sharpness kicks in and stays accompanying other tasty flavours that appear next. Admittedly, the lingering orangy/lemon aftertaste makes this cider taste very refreshing and unique. Also, I loved the bubbles in this cider, which truly complemented the taste. Overall, a great thirst quencher and perfect summer offering that I could drink over and over again. Now I understand why it is everyone’s favourite. 5/6

Availability: in the UK through their online shop, BristolCiderShop, CraftDrink The Belgian Beer Company, Hop Pocket Wine Company or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited. In the Netherlands look out for Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Germany from CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Browns was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Oliver’s Making Hay

‘Make hay’ is a slightly shortened version of ‘make hay while the sun shines’, dating back to the mid 16th century. This idiom basically means to take advantage of good opportunities while they last. It has other meanings as well, but I’m not going to discuss them here.

Anyway, I’m confident that with the Making Hay, cider created by Oliver’s Cider & Perry, Tom Oliver really tried to make the best cider as good as it can be with the best available cider apples Herefordshire has to offer. The Making Hay is the next cider of Oliver’s Cider & Perry that I’m reviewing after the Shezam, the Fine Cider Golf Rush #5 Dry and the Traditional CiderCompany: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: bittersweet and bittersharp cider apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a small white head that slowly dissipates. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, sweetish and lightly acetic with notes of caramel, vinegar, bittersweet apples with oaky notes and beeswax.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with the low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a hint of vinegar, caramel, orange, bitter notes of grapefruit, lingering smokiness, medium astringency and a touch of pepper. The finish is dry with bitter notes of grapefruit, lingering astringency, smokiness and notes of caramel.

Overall: From a cider advertised as sweet I have expected much more sweetness to be frank. But luckily for me, I don’t have a sweet tooth so I wasn’t complaining at all. Perhaps those with a sweet tooth may be slightly disappointed. The Making Hay is a complex cider with typical notes of English cider and bittersweet cider apples. It has a beautiful balance of sweetness, acidity and a touch of spiciness to it. I thought it was refreshing, not too sweet and extremely drinkable. Yet, the Making Hay did not surprise me in any way. Just a very well made true English cider. It will taste great on its own but will also pair well with Asian dishes. For everyone. I would buy more. 5/6 

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop, Hop Pocket Wine Company, Crumpton Hill Farm shop, Beer Revolution. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham, and many others. In Austria from Beer Lovers. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s Making Hay was a sample provided by CiderKultur.