Dunkertons Court Royal

Dunkertons like to experiment with single varietal ciders. Previously, I’ve tried their brilliant single varietal Breakwells Seedling. This time, however, I’m about to sample their Court Royal. Court Royal is a sweet cider apple with low tannin and low acid, which originated in East Devon.
Company: 
Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Court Royal from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

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

Aroma/Nose: the nose has still fermenting apples, fresh yellow apples, lightly acidic. some green apple. The nose is not so strong.

Taste: it starts medium dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate green and yellow apples with a smoky and vinous note. The aftertaste has hints of fresh green and yellow apples, apple skin of green apples with a light biting taste of alcohol and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: briefly, the Court Royal tastes like a flavourful cross between cider made from eating apples and traditional cider. Meaning it’s easily drinkable, light yet very refreshing and absolutely not boring. Taste wise perhaps not extremely rich, but it still has a nice depth and structure for a single-varietal cider. The nose is not strong but is clear and full of apple aromas. The Royal Court is a cider for everyone and will taste great on a day like this with lots of sunshine. I assure you it will uplift your mood after a bad day at work as well. I’d like t to have it again. 4/6

Availability: broad in the UK through BristolCiderShop or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited to Ciderwinkel and CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Court Royal was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

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Hogan’s Hip Hop

Hogan’s is another cider maker trying to provide additional flavours by using Cascade and Chinook hops. Hogan’s efforts have been recognised by the jury panel of the International Cider Awards 2018 this year as the Hip Hop picked up Bronze in the category ‘flavoured cider’.Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites), Cascade and Chinook hops
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale orange with a large quickly dissipating white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and smells of grapefruit, zinc oxide-eugenol cement used in dentistry, lemon, yellow apples, orange, a hint of tangerine.

Taste: it begins dry with no detectable sweetness and low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate notes of grapefruit, a slight astringent taste, a watery note and a smoky note, with something that numbs the tongue like eugenol. Also, a hint of tangerine, orange and a hint of elderflower. Finishes dry with a grapefruit note, some smokiness and light astringency.

Overall: interestingly, Hogan’s Hip Hop doesn’t really taste like a hopped cider. Let me explain why. Most flavours that you can get such as grapefruit or orange usually can be found also in a cider that was made from proper cider apples and/or barrel-aged. I couldn’t get much of the dry hop character such as hop bitterness or herbal aromas that often associate hopped ciders. Perhaps a hint of elderflower that often comes with hops. The aroma is pleasant and clear, the palate has an interesting array of flavours and a pleasant structure and length. The Hip Hop is citrusy and refreshing. I’d wish perhaps more apple flavour here but I can’t say I’m not enjoying this drop. Smooth and drinkable cider to celebrate the end of the day. 4/6 

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

Price: Hogan’s Hip Hop was a sample provided by Cider Kultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Oliver’s Traditional Cider

When I learned that Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry will attend CiderWorld in Frankfurt I got very excited. It’s not every day that your idol stands right in front of you. Even better, when your idol is even aware that you exist and even reads your blog posts! Tom is not only a great cider maker but a warm and witty person of fascinating personality as it turns out. Today I give you Oliver’s Traditional Cider. Company: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pochard, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: bittersweet and bittersharp cider apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with no head. Still. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and spicy with notes of juniper berries, a hint of cloves and vanilla. Also, fresh red apples, cider apples, smokiness with some green herbal undernotes.

Taste: my initial taste is dry with medium acidity of lemon. what comes next is a pungent smoky note, which lingers on and on. Then a flavour of olive brine, ripe yellow apples, strong astringent taste with a bit watery flavour and law saltiness appear. The finish is dry with a light aftertaste of juniper berries.

Overall: before I even tasted the Traditional, just took a sniff, I knew it would pair well with savoury dishes such as sausages or tapas. My first sip only confirmed it. Oliver’s Traditional Cider is a cider that should be served with food, especially based on pork and beef. But I guess vegetarians could enjoy it with quiche as well. Good length, good nose, nice structure. I must admit that I tried it at CiderWorld in Frankfurt at CiderKultur‘s booth first and wasn’t really fond of it. But at home, I’ve tried it at a pretty low temperature and it turned out to be a good idea. Therefore, I would definitely buy it again. But it has to be properly chilled to really enjoy it. A unique offering that will complement your food. 4.5/6 

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham,  and many others. In Amsterdam from Appels en Perren. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s Traditional cider was a sample provided by CiderKultur

Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling

There is a constantly rising trend of organic foods, beers and wines in the market around the world, but also of organic ciders. And, Dunkertons is one of the few British cider makers producing cider from organic cider apples. More than that, Dunkertons were one of the first to introduce organic farming to the apple orchards in Herefordshire. It was in 1988, long before the boom begun.

Today I give you Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling, a single-varietal cider made form  Breakwells Seedling, an apple variety that was discovered at Perthyre Farm, Monmouth, Wales over a century ago.Company: Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single varietal from Breakwells Seedling 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 cloudy pale amber with faint orange hue and a large, white short-lived foam, which leaves a white ring around the glass. Medium carbonation. Low to medium body. There is some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic and sweetish with lovely notes of juicy red apples and a hint of apple juice. Also, I can get wild notes, beeswax, leather, distant acetic note and nail polish.

Taste: the first sip is medium dry of caramel with a moderate acidity of lemon. Strong astringent taste and bitterness on the mid-palate followed by notes of nail polish, vinegar, barnyard, smoked cheese, red apples, grapefruit and a light watery flavour. It finishes dry with lingering astringent notes and a hint of grapefruit-bitterness with red apples. Alcohol is well hidden despite the high ABV of 7.5%.

Overall: Dunkerton’s Breakwells Seedling Cider is a cider that every cider lover needs to try as it tastes simply extraordinary. The combination of strong tannins, wild notes and flavours of fruity, crisp yet sweet and juicy red apples with citrus notes is simply mind-blowing and make this cider suitable for every palate. However, it’s a cider to sip at a slow pace rather and than drinking without stopping. I think that the Breakwells Seedling is another masterpiece from Dunkertons’ apart from Black Fox that I tried earlier. To be honest, I wouldn’t tell that the Breakwells Seedling is a single-varietal cider. So yes, I would definitely buy it again! 5/6

Availability: from their online shopbroad in the UK Bristol Cider Shop, Beers of Europe,  Abel&ColeCrumpton Hill Farm Shop,  However, outside the UK the availability is rather limited to CiderKultur in Germany, Ciderwinkel in the Netherlands, Opily Jabko and Dobry Cider in the Czech Republic.

Price: Dunkertons Breakwells Seedling was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Hogan’s Dry

John Stewart was a very special person in Hogan’s life. John was Hogan’s neighbour and the person who actually introduced Alan Hogan to cider and cider making. It is thanks to John Alan learned how to make cider from locally grown cider apples and how to appreciate it. Think about John Stewart next time you drink Hogan’s cider.

Today I’m trying their Dry, which is advertised as peaty and smoky.Company: Hogan’s
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is tannic with hints of funk, notes of lemon, grapefruit and beeswax with a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: it starts relatively dry with a low acidity of both lemon and acetic acidity. Then the taste moves to notes of grapefruit (quite prevalent), blood orange, light beeswax, a light watery taste, smoky note and a medium astringent taste. It finishes dry with citrusy notes of grapefruit and with a smoky note. Also, there is a lightly biting taste due to carbonation.

Overall: similarly to the previously reviewed Medium, the Dry from Hogan’s could be described as a cross between English cider and a Spanish sidra. But it’s drier, similarly rich, yet light and watery. It’s a nice cider with a refreshing citrusy and smoky twist, exactly as advertised. Too watery perhaps so I would suggest considering to not water down this cider that much. Overall, it didn’t hook me but I thought it was quite ok. A pleasant, refreshing and light cider for every palate. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by CiderKultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Oliver’s Fine Cider Gold Rush #5 Dry

When I mentioned to Tom Oliver at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt that I’m going to review the Gold Rush #5 soon, a cider that he created in collaboration with Ryan Burk of Angry Orchard, NY, USA Tom replied then that this batch sold out unexpectedly quick. And that actually, since Ryan also attended the cider fair, Tom brought samples to Frankfurt so he together with Ryan could blend a new batch of this cider later in the hotel.

Gold Rush #5 was slowly fermented by wild yeasts in old oak barrels and tanks. Also, it underwent a malolactic fermentation.
Company: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pochard, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a blend of vintage bittersweet and sharp cider apples from Herefordshire
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with an orange hue and a white quickly dissipating head. Lightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, phenolic and slightly citrusy with hints of funk. Also, notes of red apples, cider apples, apple skins, a light smoky note with beeswax.

Taste: my first sip is dry with a touch of sweetness and low acidity of lemon. The taste moves to a light smoky note with a gentle bitterness of grapefruit peel, orange, oak and a very low astringent taste with hints of funk. The aftertaste is extremely long with the lingering gentle bitterness of grapefruit with a smoky note, notes of leather, beeswax and apple skins. All of a sudden a medium to high astringent taste appears in the aftertaste.

Overall: briefly, Tom Oliver and Ryan Burk at their best. Their Gold Rush #5 is a rather light cider with a beautiful and rich array of aromas and proper cider components such as tannins, notes of funk, a very long and extremely pleasant aftertaste with refreshing grapefruit notes. Absolutely gorgeous! It’s like a great play, filled with twists and turns. Like the astringent taste that was almost not detectable when I began the tasting but after around 15 minutes the tannins were almost mouth puckering. Gold Rush #5 is a cider to be enjoyed in sips. Its magnificent flavour is strong, lingers on and on and you don’t want it to stop. However, I can imagine it won’t be a cider for everyone due to notes of funk and strong tannins. For me, it was a pure joy in a glass. I’ll be surely ordering some more. 5.5/6 

Availability: from Tom’s online shop. Locally in London from the Cider House and in Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  in Ham at The Salutation Inn and many others. In Amsterdam from Appels en Perren. In Copenhagen from Holm Cider. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Gold Rush #5 was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Hogan’s Medium

2005 is the year when Allen and Jane Hogan brought their 20-year-old hobby to the next level and established Hogan’s Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire, UK. They sold their first cider at Stratford Farmers market and quickly gained happy returning customers. Profits allowed Allen and Jane to expand and focus entirely on cider making and experimenting with various ingredients such as elderflower or dark muscovado sugar.

Hogan’s have a very impressive line-up featuring Dry, Medium, Vintage Perry, French Revelation, Killer Sharp, Hip Hop, Libertine and High Sobriety available in bottles. And, Original Draught, Harvest Press, Hazy Rays, Lonely Partridge Perry, Panking Pole, Wild Elder and Mulled on tap. I’m giving their Medium a go. Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a quickly dissipating white head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: smells slightly vinous and fruity with notes of yellow and red apples, red fresh apples, red fruits, berries, grapefruit with hints of funk and a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet of caramel, with a low acidity of both lemon and distant vinegar. Notes of yellow and red apples, light funk, lightly syrupy, some smokiness with a light astringent taste and a touch of light apple seed bitterness, which with time transforms to a grapefruit bitterness. The finish is dry and has a lingering note of caramel and a pleasant lingering bitter note of grapefruit peel.

Overall: after reading the label I was quite sceptical at first, but honestly, the Medium tastes natural. The aroma resembles dessert apples with an acetic note typical for Spanish sidra. Taste-wise you will find many flavours, but classical English cider notes clearly take over the palate. Therefore, I would describe Hogan’s Medium as a fusion of English cider with Spanish sidra and eating apples (although Hogan’s claim it is made entirely from cider apples). Despite many interesting notes on the palate, I thought Hogan’s was quite average. I didn’t think it was special as some sort of balance was missing. Anyway, I think that Hogan’s Medium can be likeable especially by those having a sweet tooth. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by Cider Kultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.