Loxley Cider Greenwood Blend

When I hear Loxley, I think of Robin Hood, Lady Marion and Sheriff of Nottingham, famous heroes of English folklore. But as it turns out, Loxley is also claimed to be one of the first areas in Great Britain where cider was made already in the 12th century. Records have been found on a private residence that had its own cider press.

Loxley Cider is made using traditional methods, with rack and cloth press, slowly fermented with wild yeast.Company: Loxley Cider Ltd
Place of Origin: Wandsworth, London, UK
Apples: a blend of bittersweet and bitter sharp varieties
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 330 ml clear glass bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass

Appearance: pours an almost clear deep golden/very pale amber with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong. On the nose bittersweet cider apples, tannic notes, juicy red apples, something spicy with a hint of xylene, butter, milk and honey.

Taste: my initial taste is sweet of sugar with low acidity of lemon. Smokiness, caramel, and light astringency. Finishes with a note of orange, pear and polyfloral honey.

Overall: it took me a few days to write this part as I wasn’t really sure how to express my thoughts about the Loxley Cider Greenwood Blend. This cider is very interesting with all the features of a great product. Its taste is light but not watery, with clean notes, it is easily drinkable and will be enjoyable for most cider drinkers. Especially for those who don’t like traditional cider but are looking for a quality alternative or nice introductory cider. I was very fond of a note of a polyfloral honey, which usually makes me dull but here it is just a note that gives you an impression that you are drinking a honey liquor and as it feels like a cuddly hug. Admittedly, it is not cider I usually drink, but it is unique and beautiful. With this, many could start their cider journey. 4.5/6

Availability: in the UK from Bayley & Sage

Price: a sample was provided by James from Loxley Cider. 

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Halfpenny​ Green Crown Cidre Bouché

It’s time for English cider! Tony of the Halfpenny Green Cider Co, based in Bobbington, West Midlands, UK is a truly unique cider maker. His background in engineering allowed him to develop a new cidermaking method combining the best bits of English and French cidre making techniques with the sparkling wine production method. Tony briefly explained to me what his process is about and trust me, it sounds very interesting and does seem to be a bit complicated. I told Tony that he should share his method with others. So perhaps there will be a cider making-course to attend soon? The Halfpenny GreenCrown Cidre Bouche is a medium bottle conditioned cider.Company: Halfpenny Green Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Farthingdales, Crab Lane, Bobbington, West Midlands, UK
Apples: Tremlett’s Bitter, Dabinett, Michelin and Somerset Redstreak
Sweetness as per label: medium sweet
ABV: 8%
Package type: 750 ml clear glass champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a very large very slowly dissipating white head. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very strong. Literally pours out of the bottle. Bittersweet cider apples, smokiness, tannic, smoked apricots and hints of funk. Also, red apple skins or red ripe apples.

Taste: my first impression is lightly sweet with only low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a note of caramel, a touch of alcohol, low bitterness of burnt caramel and smokiness, Very light astringency. Finishes with a lingering note of burnt caramel and bitterness of apple seeds mixed with caramel, distant lemon and gentle smokiness.

Overall: the scent literally pours out of the bottle. It’s that powerful and really beautiful. Taste-wise, not very rich but once the absolutely phenomenal caramel bitterness appears, which is extremely longlasting you feel the heaven is near. Fortunately, the caramel note goes on and on. It never really stops making each sip an extraordinary experience. Again, I shared this bottle with a friend and she had a similar opinion to mine: the taste could be richer but the caramel note is absolutely mindblowing! Nevertheless, it is the whole impression that counts the most. So the Crown is getting 5 out of 6 from me. Well done, Tony! Looking forward to your future developments. I could definitely have this cider more often. 5/6

Availability: directly through Halfpenny Green Cider Co. Exclusively for Cider Explorer followers, a discount code for a Box of 6 (can be mixed) CEXPbox6, giving you £3 discount. For a Box of 12 (can be mixed), a discount code CEXPbox12. This gives you £6 discount.

Price: a sample was provided by Tony from the Halfpenny Green Cider Co.

Hoxton Cidersmiths Harry Masters’ Jersey

Last year, after publishing the first review on cider from Hoxton Cidersmiths, the Michelin & Brown’s I learned that guys from Hoxton Cidersmiths don’t make their cider themselves. Their cider is made under contract by cidermakers at Sheppy’s Cider and bottled as Hoxton Cidersmiths cider. So I’m not exactly sure how does it make them a craft cidery. Anyway, Harry Masters’ Jersey is an English cider apple variety coming straight out of Somerset.
Company:
Hoxton Cidersmiths 
Place of Origin: 
London, UK
Apples:
 Harry Masters Jersey
Sweetness as per label:
 medium
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 
500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a short-lived head. Carbonation is artificial. The body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of funk, barnyard, leather, caramel, red apples, hay, and a hint of sulphur.

Taste: the first sip is very sweet with only low acidity. On the mid-palate light smokiness resembling the rind of camembert, followed by yellow fresh juicy apple and light astringency. The finish is dry with a lingering smoky note of smoked cheese and distant sulphur.

Overall: if you like your cider on the sweeter side and enjoy light cider then this cider is for you. I found it too sweet and too average. It tasted balanced and rich, yet something was missing. This is pretty common among single varietal ciders. Anyway, if you are only at the beginning of your cider adventure I think this cider is a good one to start with as it is quite sweet and mild. For the record, the sulphur hint is just there, adds complexity, but I can’t say it’s anyhow disturbing. Goes well with fish & chips. 3.5/6 

Availability: online through Ciderlab or locally from  The Cider House in London.

Price: purchased in the Curator in Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport at 5.75 GBP.

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

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.