Marks & Spencer Somerset Traditional Cider (Sheppy’s)

By coincident, during my visit to Wroclaw I have learned that Marks & Spencer stocks a few bottles of cider. Surprisingly, such cider brands as Sheppy’s, Westons or Guillet Freres produce cider for Marks & Spencer. Time to find out how they may taste like!

Company: Sheppy’s
Place of Origin:
Taunton, Somerset, UK
a blend of traditional bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples varieties such as Yarlington Mill, Chisel Jersey, Stoke Red, Tremlett’s Bitter and Coate’s Jersey.
Sweetness as per label: 
Package type:
500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:
pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Ingredients: apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, sulphites, yeast.

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. Body is light. Carbonation is artificial.

Aroma/Nose: smells of beeswax with notes of leather, ripe red and fermented apples. Very tannic. The scent is dry nice and extremely inviting.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with light to moderate acidity (you can taste that malic acid was added) and a watery taste. The mid-palate is pleasant with ripe red apples and smoked cheese. The finish is dry with a light bitter taste and a touch of tart apples.

Overall: Beautiful, as a matter of fact hypnotizing, scent of quite funky proper cider notes invites you to take the first sip. But the moment you tried it you regret you didn’t stop there. This cider is a profanity! On the spot you can say that a really decent cider made from cider apples was mixed with articial and completely unnecessary ingredients, which make this cider almost undrinkable. I feel really sorry for the cider maker, who sold his soul to Marks&Spencer as the addition of malic acid just killed this cider. Perhaps I am a cider purist and sensitive to all sorts of ‘improvements’ with synthetic ingredients as my friend who shared the bottle with me gave the Somerset Traditional 4 out of 6. I will not be that generous. Why, the hell, did you have to spoil such a good cider? 2.5/6 

Availability: online and locally from Marks & Spencer

Price: purchased from Marks&Spencer in Wroclaw, Poland at 12 PLN (2.85 EUR)

Sheppy’s Dabinett

Sheppy’s Cider is another family business, which started in Somerset over 200 years ago. Initially their focus was on beef and dairy, less on apples and cider. However, when the Sheppy’s moved to Three Bridges in 1917 cider making became their core business. Today Sheppy’s Cider is successfully run by David Sheppy, the sixth-generation owner.

Company: Sheppy’s Cider Ltd
Place of Origin:
Three Bridges, Bradford-on-Tone, Taunton, Somerset, UK
Sweetness as per label: 
Package type:
500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:
pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden/ pale amber with no head. Lightly sparkling. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: smells of sweet and sharp red apples with notes of caramel and wood. Pleasant.

Taste: surprisingly, it starts bitter with low acidity and perceivable strong taste of alcohol. Subsequently, flavors of wood with red apples skins, tart apples, cinnamon, caramel and butter appear. The aftertaste is dry with lingering bitter taste and a distant note of almond. The bitter taste gets milder after a while.

Overall: Dabinett is a typical cider apple, which is rich in tannins and low in acid. And, you can clearly taste tannins in Sheppy’s Dabinett, as they are responsible for the taste of wood and bitter notes in this cider. Sheppy’s Dabinett has a rich taste, but to me tastes rather unbalanced. It would have been a great cider if not the bitter taste overpowering the taste of this cider and not well hidden alcohol. However, I must say that flavors of cinnamon and caramel make the Dabinett a great winter cider. Also, in the winter you can benefit from the warming effect of alcohol. I would buy it again, since it’s available in a nearby supermarket, but I would drink it rather in the winter time and only slightly chilled. 4/6 

Availability: widely available in supermarkets such as Waitrose, Booths, Sainsbury’s in the UK. At Waitrose, online from eebriaDike and Son,  Beers of Europe or Beer Ritz. In Germany locally at Getränke Hoffman or online through CiderhofBannekeGourVino or  Drinks of the World. In Copenhagen from Holm.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Getränke Hoffman at 3.35 EUR. FYI, Getränke Hoffman has recently added new cider/apfelwein/cidre to their selection!

Mayador Produccion Limitada Cosecha 2014

Bodegas Mayador was founded in 1939 by Manuel Busto Amandi in a small town of Villaviciosa, which as many other Spanish cider producers is located in Asturias. Today I am reviewing the Production Limitada Cosecha 2014, which was slowly fermented in chestnut barrels from selected Asturian apples following 14 months of maturation.

Company: Bodegas Mayador
Place of Origin:  Villaviciosa, Asturias, Spain
Apples: selected apples
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 5%
Package type: 750ml green champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with orange hues and no head. Lightly sparkling. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather dry and has overripe apples with a mild acetic note. Also, I can sense a delicate herbal note with some funk and a touch of wood.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a moderate acetic-acidity,  which breaks the sweetness. Overripe red apples with herbs, pear and something spicy with a watery taste and a touch of smoked cheese and wood on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and slightly astringent with light and pleasant lingering bitterness.

Overall: Delicious sidra, which will most likely appeal to everyone. Perhaps doesn’t taste spectacular, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Produccion Limitada is refreshing and crisp with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Tastes great on a hot summer day even without any food. I’m sure it wood pair well with something spicy. I would like to have it again one day. 4.5/6 

Availability: Produccion Limitada can be purchased from Ciderwinkel or La Sidra.

Price: purchased online from Ciderwinkel. Mayador Produccion Limitada was one of the sidras in the Spanish discovery box.

Celtic Marches Thundering Molly

The Celtic Marches company is a cider producer based in Bishops Frome, Herefordshire, UK, but with family roots going into Mid Wales and the Welsh borders. Two persons stand behind Celtic Marches. One is Susan Vaughan, who is in charge of sales, marketing and brand development and her brother Robert Hancocks, who grows the apples and make cider. It’s my first time trying their cider. Cheers!

Company: Celtic Marches Beverages
Place of Origin: Bishops Frome, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: apples made on a family farm. Varieties grown on the farm include Dabinett, Michelin, Harry Masters, Three Counties and Yarlington Mill.
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.2%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a tiny white head, which quickly dissipates. No visible signs of carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: extremely funky nose with notes of leather, beeswax and barnyard. Very tannic. Also, it has a solvent-like smell with notes of vinegar, ethyl acetate and undisclosed higher alcohols (fusel alcohols). Somewhere in the background red apple skins.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet (but not too sweet) with moderate acetic-like acidity. The taste moves then to both red apple skins and apple seeds with funky notes of barnyard, leather and beeswax. The aftertaste has lingering solvent-like and tannic note with moderate astringency and a pleasant hint of bitter almonds to the end.

Overall: Wow! This stuff is extremely rough and funky! Nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Also, abundant off-flavors will make you either fall in love in this cider or hate it. So it is not a cider for everyone. Also, bear in mind that due to fusel alcohols, which judging by the taste are present in high concentration here, you will not wake up fresh the next day if you drink too much of it. As for me, I fell in love…5/6

Availability: locally in Berlin from Hopfen and Malz or Kadewe. Online available from Ciderandmore, BierpostBeers of Europe or The Pip Stop.

Price: had locally at the Williams Ale & Cider House in London for 4.75 GBP (5.45 EUR). One of very little pubs in London with a selection of real cider on tap. And, delicious fish and chips!

OVY Perrysuade

All I was able to find about Polskiego Cydru Fabryki, the company behind OVY Perrysuade, is that they are based near Warsaw close to the Kampinoski National Park and that they were established only in 2016.

Company: Polskiego Cydru Fabryki
Place of Origin: Klaudyn, Masovia, Poland
Pears: unknown
Sweetness as per label: Semi-sweet
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a light hazy very pale straw. Carbonation is artificial. Some sediment in the bottle although this perry is supposed to be filtered as per information on the label.

Aroma/Nose: I can definitely smell pears and smoked cheese. There is also some sweetness on the nose along with floral notes.

Taste: It starts very sweet with no perceivable acidity, bitterness or funk. Notes of smoked cheese, some kind of salty flavor and sulphuric note. The aftertaste is just terrible and after taking two or three sips I was not able to continue drinking this perry.

Overall: After three sips the rest of the bottle landed in the sink. I’m sorry, but this perry is undrinkable. Even K cider or Heineken’s Apple Bandit tasted better. I’ve been thinking, whether I should publish this post at all. But, in the end I came to the conclusion, that both good and bad reviews make you wanna try something out to make your own opinion. Moreover, perhaps this review can serve as a stimulus to the company behind it to improve the taste of this perry.  0.5/6

Availability: I would love to tell you but I was not able to find any shop that stores the Perrysuade.

Price: shared by a friend, who attended Warsaw Beer Festival 2017. (For the record, my friend didn’t enjoy the Persuade as well).

Ramborn Original

My first thought about Ramborn cider? I thought it was a cider made by Rambo 😉 The origin of the name is indeed related to Rambo, not the action hero, but the apple variety mostly grown in Luxembourg and, also, used to make Ramborn cider. The ‘Born’ part of ‘Ramborn’ comes from the city of Born, where the cidery is located. Ramborn Cider Co have recently added two more ciders to their cider range featuring now the Original, Farmhouse, Avalon, Somerset Blend and Perry. Today I’m reviewing the Original, which picked up the Bronze medal for this year’s International Cider Awards.

Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: Rambo apple blended with other varieties such as Boskoop, Bohnapfel, Porzenapfel, Luxemburger Triumpf and Luxemburger Renette.
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a fizzy short-lived white head. Carbonation is artificial, but long-lasting. Body is light to medium.

Aroma/Nose: once I’ve opened the bottle pleasant scents of apple pie with caramel, and overripe apples appeared. Subsequently, when I poured the Original into a glass I could additionally smell fresh red and green apples with a touch of wood and something slightly sweet.

Taste: it begins slightly sweet with very low acidity. I would describe the sweetness level as medium than medium dry. The mid-palate has flavors of red ripe apples and apple juice with a touch of champagne/white wine and smoky ham. The finish is dry with gentle bitter notes and lingering red apple skins flavor with a delicate astringency.  

Overall: The Original combines, in an interesting way, flavors typical for English cider with notes characteristic for German Apfelwein. On one hand, low acidity with notes of ripe apples and a smoky ham. But on the other hand white wine flavor, which doesn’t let you forget about the heritage of apples used for this cider (I don’t mean in a bad way). I enjoyed the complexity and richness of the Original. Well, it was a bit too sweet for my liking, but still pleasant. Judging by rather low acidity of the Original I think that Rambo apple, which is not considered a sharp apple, dominates in the blend. Anyway, I think that the Original is a cider that will appeal to everyone. The Original is crisp, not overly sweet and has no funky notes. Also, tannins are gentle and don’t dry your mouth. Additionally, I think it could pair well with food. I can only hope that the availability of the Original will expand and reach Berlin soon. 4.5/6

Availability: online from Ewald Wolter or Luxcaddy. Locally everywhere in Luxembourg, e.g. at supermarket chain called Coral and other supermarkets or bars. Even at the airport! In Germany available at this moment only from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: it was sent to me by Ramborn Cider Co for testing. I know there is always a risk of bias, when you receive a free sample. But what can I do, I liked their cider 🙂

Uwe Betuwe Cider Rood (6.5%)

Today I am sampling another cider from UWE Betuwe from the Netherlands. The first one, Groot Merm was not one of my favorites, but perhaps cider with the picture of a renaissance lady on the label will make a better impression on me.

Company: UWE Betuwe Cider 
Place of Origin: 
Elst, Netherlands
Apples: made from at least 8 different apple varieties grown on the local farm
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a light cloudy golden yellow with a white foam, which quickly dissipates to a ring around the glass. Carbonation is slightly sparkling with a light body.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is acidic and slightly sweet at the same time. The scent has green apples with apple juice flavors. I can also sense white wine flavor with a slight hint of farmhouse.

Taste: I would say it is a medium dry to medium cider as there is some sweetness perceivable, but not too much. The first sip is moderately watery with intense grapefruit bitterness and fresh apples on the palate. The aftertaste is slightly dry and astringent on the tongue.

Overall: Briefly, the Rood is a decent and drinkable cider, which is quite complex and balanced. I enjoyed having it. But, I must say that the Rood is not remarkable or unique as I had similar ciders already. However, as I already said, I enjoyed it and would buy it more often if the Rood was available in my area. 3.5/6

Availability: online Ciderlabin Amsterdam: Apples en Herren, Cafe Bax, Worscht, Cafe Brecht; Eindhoven: Brouwerij het Veem; The Haag: Alsem J.P., Café Restaurant Rootz, De Paas; Utrecht: Springhaver; Coten: Willem&Drees B.V.; Wageningen: Cafe De Zaaier, Heroes of Taste; Arnhem: TAPE; Elst: Mitra Slijterij; Ressen: Landwinkel de Woerdt; Nijmegen: ‘t Hoogstraatje, Café Samson, De Bierhoeder, Café de Opera, Café Frowijn, Café Jos Meesterschenderij, Wijnhandel “in de blauwe druif”.

Price: purchased locally in Amsterdam from Apples en Perren at 2.99 EUR.