Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020

In 2020, I reviewed the 2019 vintage of the Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin. Now as Nick provided me with a sample of the recently released Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020, it’s time to evaluate this newcomer.

Company: Axminster Craft Cider
Place of Origin: Axminster, Devon, UK
Apples: a blend of Dabinett and Sweet Coppin
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber and a small head that slowly reduces to a ring. Low to medium carbonation. Body is low to medium too.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of caramel, earth, baked apples and raisins. Also, there seems to be sth chemical to it – must be the tannin.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Notes of caramel, smokiness, wood, red apples and apple seeds. Moderate and smooth astringency. Finishes dry and quickly bit then suddenly notes of caramel and a caramel-like bitter touch emerge out of nowhere.

Overall: I have a feeling that my reviews may become boring soon as my “recent” cider reviews tend to be very positive. I guess that simply cider samples that I get recently are impeccable. And, I’m afraid that in the case of the Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020 it will be no different. It’s a really decent, full-bodied cider with a delicious array of flavours and a smooth yet relatively strong astringency that a good cider needs. The nose is strong and has a chemical touch to it but it’s rather due to the tannin content. The Axminster Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2020 is not overly sweet although for my palate I though it was already too much. However, it wasn’t too sweet to my friend who I shared this cider with. All I heard while drinking was “oohs and aahs” – sounds every cider maker would like to hear. So it seems to be a good opportunity for those with a sweet tooth. I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind having it again. 5/6

Availability: directly from Axminster Cider Co or online from Scrattings or Slurp.

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Axminster Craft Cider Yarlington Mill 2019

It might be November now but it is a very warm and sunny day here in Frankfurt with 15 degrees Celsius. Simply perfect for having cider! Today I’m going to review the Axminster Yarlington Mill from Devon, UK. In case you don’t remember, it is Nick Cunningham who stands behind the Axminster Craft Cider Co. As the name already indicates, the Yarlington is a single varietal cider made with chemical free, sustainably managed Yarlingtons grown in Nick’s friend 3rd generation orchard from Somerset. Let’s give it a try!

Company: Axminster Craft Cider 
Place of Origin: Axminster, Devon, UK
Apples: Yarlington Mill
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, tumbler or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep amber with a small head that slowly reduces to a ring. Low carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and slightly sweet with notes of raisins, cider apples, baked apples but also a bit chemical/phenolic. Remote notes of caramel, vanilla and butterscotch.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet with just a touch of acidity of lemon. Caramel, smokiness, raisins, baked apples, overripe apples, low bitterness and sweetener on the mid-palate. Finishes dry with medium astringency, butterscotch and a phenolic aftertaste.

Overall: After sampling the Axminster Craft Cider Dabinett & Sweet Coppin last year, I knew that Nick’s new cider will simply have to be good. And, it really is. After opening the bottle, the nose simply bursts out of it. The nose is very inviting and makes your mouth watery. It is clearly oxidized as you can judge from the notes of raisins and butterscotch. But it’s really lovely. After the first sip, you feel that you enter a sort of cider/caramel heaven with lovely smooth yet relatively strong tannins. The taste is long-lasting and clean without notes of funk. I enjoyed every drop of it. It’s a cider for both a cider aficionado and those who just start their cider adventure. Actually, I would dare to say that if you present a bottle of this cider to a cider newbie, I guarantee that you will turn this person to a cider lover. I would definitely buy more. 5/6  

Availability: directly from Axminster Cider Co or online from Scrattings or Slurp.

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Axminster Craft Cider Dabinett & Sweet Coppin 2019

To Nick of Axminster Craft Cider, it all started as a hobby. In the village he lived in, there was a very old cider apple tree that Nick used for his cider. In the same village, he found an apple orchard with cider apple trees planted in the 1970s. After a while, Nick moved to a farm with a cider house and started making cider commercially. This year, he made 5000 litres. This is my first time trying anything from Axminster Craft Cider.Company: Axminster Craft Cider 
Place of Origin: Axminster, Devon, UK
Apples: a blend of Dabinett and Sweet Coppin
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep amber with a dark orange hue and a small head that slowly reduces to a ring. Low to medium carbonation. Body is low to medium too.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of caramel, baked apples, apple skin but also tart apples, bittersweet apples with a hint of wood and resin.

Taste: my first impression is lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Smokiness, baked apples, overripe apples, low bitterness, caramel, sweetener. Finishes dry and a bit watery and a trace of lingering caramel-like bitterness, medium astringency and some sweetener-like sweetness to it and a note of dark chocolate.

Overall: the aroma is absolutely brilliant! It combines the best and most delicious features of an English cider and French cidre. The nose is clean without off-notes but yet you can tell that it is made with proper cider apples. It took me literally 5 minutes before I moved on to take the first sip. On the palate, you get practically the same fabulous notes as on the nose. Also, the Axminster Craft Cider has an incredibly long taste that seems to never end. All these flavours of caramel, overripe apples and baked apples with a touch of bitterness literally dance in your mouth. It’s like a seductive tango of your taste buds. Drink this cider after a hard day at work to celebrate the evening. Pure heaven! I definitely would drink more. Scrattings, can you please start listing Axminster Cider? 5.5/6  

Availability: directly from Axminster Cider Co or online from Slurp.

Price: Nick provided me with a sample. 

Aspall Harry Sparrow

Harry Sparrow was launched in 2012 by Aspall, a British cider maker, who last year made the headlines after being snapped up by the US beer giant Molson Coors. This cyder is named after Aspall’s cider maker who had worked for the Aspall family for 50 years. I wonder what would he have to say about the acquisition. Anyway, the Harry Sparrow is advertised as a more sessionable cyder than other ciders from Aspals lineup. Company: Aspall 
Place of Origin: Debenham, Suffolk, UK
Apples: made from bittersweet apple varieties such as Kingston Black & Medaille d’Or
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 4.6%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with gentle orange hues. Lightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is not very strong, but rich with notes of caramel, vanilla, red apple, red apple skin and red berries. Smells quite nice.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet, rather medium than medium dry, with low acidity. Subsequently, I pick up a smoky note, a bit watery note with flavours of red apple, caramel, and red berries. It finishes dry with a taste of red berries, crispy red apples, a low astringent taste, a light buttery note and a hint of burnt caramel.

Overall: the Harry Sparrow is claimed to be made from bittersweet cider apples, which are known for their high tannin content giving an astringent and/or bitter taste. But I can get only a very lightly astringent taste and no bitterness. Also, a quite low ABV of 4.6% makes this cyder look very suspicious. My guess is that this cyder was diluted with water. Another option is that eating/cooking apple varieties were also used in the blend. Either way, The Harry Sparrow is a light and drinkable cyder from Aspall. It tastes sweeter than advertised so I would classify it as a medium cider, not medium dry. A tiny bit too sweet to my liking, but I think it can be enjoyable. In addition, a flavour of red berries makes the Harry Sparrow quite refreshing. I would recommend this cider if you’re at the beginning of your cider journey or you’re looking for a light and sweet tasting cider. 3.5/6 

Availability: in the UK from their online shop, Morrisons, Tesco, Beers of Europe. In Germany from Cider and More. In terms of shops locally in Berlin from Hopfen und Malz. In the Czech Republic from Dobry Cider and Delikatesy online,

Price: purchased from Hopfen und Malz at 4.5 EUR n Berlin.

Oldfields Applesecco Discovery Cider

It may have come to your attention that prosecco is still an extremely popular beverage in the UK. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Oldfields Orchard from Worcestershire has decided to take advantage of the ongoing prosecco boom and released in 2016 an ‘applesecco’, an apple version of prosecco. Oldfields Appplesecco is made entirely from Discovery, a dessert apple variety discovered in late 1940’s in Langham, Essex and is sold in stylish bottles imported from Italy. This is my 2nd cider from Oldfields after their Medium DryCompany: Oldfields Cider, Lambswick Drinks Company c/o Hobsons Brewery
Place of Origin: Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, UK
Apples: single varietal from Discovery apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a quickly dissipating white head. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: it smells fruity and slightly sweet of freshly cut ripe dessert red apples, light honey and a hint of green apples.

Taste: it begins medium dry with low acidity. The taste gets a bit watery with a note of dessert apples, fresh apples, red apples, red berries, caramel and a hint of bitterness and a light astringent taste. It finishes dry with a hint of green apples.

Overall: the flavour of freshly cut red apples on the nose is absolutely phenomenal. Taste wise you can tell that the Applesecco was made from dessert apples, but nevertheless, it tastes fruity, complex, apple forward and delicious. Really gorgeous! However, the longer you drink it, the less you want to take another sip. Although both the aroma and taste are brilliant, you get bored with them very quickly and suddenly you realise that this beautiful bottle is too much even for two. I can imagine a glass of it would be a refreshing alternative on a hot summer day. But just a glass of it. 4/6 

Availability: in the UK from Specialty Drinks Limited, Moonshine and Fuggles, Shropshireowns, Crumpton Hill Farmshop or Hop Pocket Wine Company. In Germany from Britische-Biere.

Price: bought online from Britische Biere at 6.99 EUR.

West Milton Dorset Starlight

Previously, I sampled the moreish Lancome Rising from the West Milton Cider Co, a cider maker based in Devon, UK. West Milton has also an interesting background. Nick Poole started making cider in 2000 cause there were too many apples in the orchard they rented for their horses. So once cider was made, Nick created a cider club, which evolved into the West Milton Cider Co. Today I’m sampling their award-winning Dorset Starlight.Company: West Milton Cider Co
Place of Origin: 1 Pear Tree Cottages, West Milton, Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: a blend including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jersey
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500 ml clear bottle corked bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Note: No sulphites, unpasteurised

Appearance: pours a hazy pale amber with orange hues and no head. No visible signs of carbonation. Body is low. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic, a bit acidic as well, with red apples, hints of funk, lemon, fermented apples, caramel, and toffee. My mouth gets watery as it is a proper cider smell.

Taste: the first sip is only slightly sweet with low to medium acidity of lemon. The taste gets slightly watery with an earthy note and flavours of red apples, apple seeds, medium astringent taste, a smoky note, and of sweetener, caramel and watermelon. Lightly biting feeling on the tongue due to carbonation toward the end with light beeswax, leather,  and a hint of grapefruit.

Overall: this is first-rate stuff. It tastes exactly how cider is supposed to taste like. Delicious palate, multiple notes that are essential to name any cider a proper drop. The Dorset Starlight tastes light and refreshing yet complex with yummy apple forward notes and lovely tannins. Tannins are not too strong, but still there. Not too sweet, not too wild, not too sour. A true cider for everyone. Looks that I have another favourite cider company. Only the light watery note could be less watery, but this is just a cosmetic change. I’ll be definitely ordering this drop again. 4.5/6 

Availability: in the UK from Cider Supermarket and Scrattings. In other European countries e.g. from Cider Lab.

Price: purchased online from Scrattings at 2.80 GBP.

Thistly Cross Original

Scotch whisky is a key part of Scottish culture. And, cider? Well, Scotland has only a few cider makers, and Thistly Cross Cider is one of them. Thistly Cross Cider was set up only in Autumn 2008 and is made by Peter Stuart (cider maker) and Ian Rennie (farmer) on Belhaven Fruit Farm, close to Dunbar. The Original is claimed to be an award-winning cider, but I haven’t found a single award for the Original. Only for the cider manufacturer or for other ciders from their lineup. Company: Thistly Cross
Place of Origin: Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland
Apples: a blend of Scottish heritage apples
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 6.2%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a short-lived white head. Medium carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: smells fruity of red apples, apple juice, light raspberry and other red fruits with notes of white wine. Slightly sweetish.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with low acidity. The mid-palate has fruity notes of red apples, apple juice and red berries with white wine notes. The aftertaste is also fruity with notes of apple juice and berries. Also, light bitterness and some spiciness from alcohol. It gives you a light warming effect of the alcohol.

Overall: I’m not a big fan of ciders made from dessert apples, as they tend to be too sweet, watery and boring. Perhaps the Original didn’t taste boring and watery, exceptionally sweet. I’m sure it will find a grip on people, who will find it appealing as it’s not bad. It’s just not a cider for me. 3/6 

Availability: Widely available. Locally from Asda, Sainsbury’s. From their online store, Fetch the drinks, Cider & More, Britische Biere, Depot Shop Kiel, Ciderwinkel. Locally in Berlin from Hopfen & Malz or in the Monterey Bar. In Frankfurt from Naiv.

Price:  when I was cider shopping at Hopfen & Malz in Berlin.

Dorset Nectar Medium

Did you know that Dorset Nectar’s cider maker, Ryan Strong was recently named a cider superstar by Imbibe? This young guy has recently obtained a BA degree in history, heritage and archaeology from Strode College and is considering to study Archaeology to get a Master’s degree. In the meantime, he supports his family in Bridport, Dorset, UK by making delicious organic cider.

Previously, I sampled their Old Harry Rocks and the Wildcat.Company: Dorset Nectar
Place of Origin: Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: local organic cider apples 
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass
Note: no sulphites added, fermented with natural yeast

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber with an orange hue and no head. No carbonation. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle. Little flecks floating on top.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is fruity and sweetish with notes of fermented apples, cider apples, red apples, caramel and beeswax.

Taste: it begins slightly sweet of caramel with a low to medium level of lemon-like acidity. On the mid-palate red apples, beeswax, light bitterness, light bubblegum, grapefruit, some oakiness, medium astringent taste, a slightly watery and lightly smoky note. It finishes dry with a lingering light astringent taste, hints of blood orange, grapefruit and red apples.

Overall: this is proper stuff! It’s less sweet than advertised so I would rather classify it as medium dry than medium. Anyway, the palate is very rich with a lovely set of flavours and nice smooth tannins. Boys and Girls, this is how real English cider should taste like. Fantastic! I’m going to order this one definitely more often. 5/6

Availability: in the UK only. From their online shop, Scrattings, Eebria, Cider Supermarket.

Price: purchased from Scrattings at £2.50 (approx. 2.87 EUR). Karl and Susan were kind enough to take up the challenge and ship some cider to Berlin. Thank you!

Gwynt y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy

After the everyone’s favourite the Black Dragon (see the review here) the Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy is another cider from this Welsh cider maker that I have the pleasure to sample. The Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy has picked up a number of awards in the UK and Australia. 
Company:
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider and Perry Company
Place of Origin: Pontypridd, Wales, UK
Apples: cider apples grown by traditional methods in ageing orchards
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear orange with no head. Low petillant-type carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is dominated by sulphur, with notes of red apples in the background and caramel. This is all I picked up.

Taste: it begins with a high amount of caramel-like sweetness, which classifies this cider in my opinion rather as sweet than medium. The acidity level is low and lemon-like. Similarly as on the nose, a hint of sulphur with notes of red apple and apple juice. The finish has a low to moderate astringent taste with a refreshing note of crisp apple.

Overall: a sulphur note is not exactly my favourite flavour. Especially, if the sulphur flavour dominates the aroma, thus simply acting as a turn-off to me. The palate is much better than the nose overpowered by sulphur as it comes with a pleasant apple forward taste. But still, I can’t call this flavour not superb. In addition, I found the level of sweetness way too high to my liking. But again, if you don’t mind the sulphur flavour and you have a sweet tooth you may find this cider refreshing. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it again. 3/6

Availability: from their online shop. in the UK from BeerRitz, Dylans Wine, N.D. John Wine Merchants, Mumbles Fine Wine, Blas Ar Fwyd , CWM Deri, The Old Railway Line.In Finland from Alko.fi.  In Berlin from Hopfen & Malz. Online in Germany from Cider and More. in the Netherlands from Het Ciderhuis, Speciaalbierenwinkel.nl, Biernavigatie.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Hopfen & Malz at 3.5 EUR.

Thatchers Gold

After reading the article ‘A fine cider sommelier judges the UK’s worst ciders‘, I’ve looked at the comments and noticed that Thatchers Gold was the only cider that was regarded by the readers as an actually quite pleasant tasting cider. I was really surprised to read this so I’ve decided to sample Thatchers Gold next.Company: Thatchers Cider
Region of Origin: Somerset, Winscombe, England
Apples: selected apples, many of which are harvested in Somerset (and the rest? where do they come from?)
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 4.8%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a white foam, which quickly dissipates. Carbonation level is medium and likely artificial. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is weak and exerts notes of dessert apples, including red and yellow apples with a light hint of sulphur (like matches) and candies.

Taste: it begins watery and moderately sweet with low citric acid-like acidity. The mid-palate has faint notes of yellow and red dessert apples, apple juice, light sulphuric note and a hint of green apples. In the aftertaste, I can detect a light caramel note with a touch of apple seed-like bitterness.

Overall: Gold is a typical cider made from dessert apples judging by the taste. It’s drinkable, even refreshing due to the light acidic and crisp taste, but still average. It’s not bad, but I can’t say it stands out of ciders made from dessert apples. The nose is very similar nose to the Aspall dry with a sulphur note resembling matches. However, the Aspall’s nose was much worse. Taken together, I would consider the Gold as an alternative to ciders made from concentrate, but that’s all. 3/6

Availability: from most supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s or Tesco. Online from Booze Cruiser. In Berlin from Hopfen und Malz, Drink DrunkGetränkefeinkost and Flaschbierschop. In Germany from The English Shop, Flaschbierschop, Cider & More. In the Netherlands from CiderCider.

Price: purchased online from The English Shop at 3.49 EUR.