Orpens Cider

The story behind the brand name of the Irish cider maker Orpens is a very interesting one. Orpen is a maiden name of the grandmother of the founders, Chris. Charmain Orpen was the first female professional licensed jockey in history to legally compete with men. I couldn’t think of a more galloping brand name neither. Today I’m sampling an Irish cider proudly made from selected Irish apples. Company: Orpens
Place of Origin: Dublin, Ireland
Apples: a blend of selected Irish apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a short-lived white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells sweet of plain sugar and of sulphur – matches-like smell with elderflower, yellow apples and some fruitiness. The nose is rather weak.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a light acidity of lemon. Followed by a  watery note with yellow apples, light sulphur, a lightly vinous note and fruity flavour. It finishes with a sugary taste of lemon candy and green apples.

Overall: I’m sorry to say but I didn’t like it. Orpens Cider is clearly made from dessert or eating apples without the addition of any cider apples in the blend as there is no detectable taste of tannins. But even from dessert apples, a good cider maker can make an excellent cider. But Orpens cider, unfortunately, is not the case. The aroma of sulphur is overpowering on the nose and leaves pleasant fruity notes far behind. Taste wise it’s a sugary apple fizz with only little depth and a lingering sugary taste. It reminds me slightly of Aspall Cyder Draught, which I reviewed some time ago. Admittedly, Orpens cider tastes better than Aspalls’s but is still far from being good. I wouldn’t buy it again. Unless I had to choose between Magners and Orpens. 2.5/6

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Orpens Cider was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Longueville House Mór Cider

Mór Cider is a brand new offering from Longueville House, a family business run by William O’Callghan from Cork, Ireland. As you might recall from my earlier post about their Longueville House Cider, Longueville House is also famous for making Ireland’s only apple brandy. Interestingly, the Mór is actually their Longueville House Cider,  a slowly fermented cider made from Michelin and Dabinett cider apples, additionally matured for 6 months in their award-winning apple brandy casks. Why Mór? In Gaelic/Irish, the word Mór is often used to describe something great, big or senior.

Longueville House Cider Mór Cider might have been launched only recently, but it has already picked up Gold in the Dublin Craft Cider Cup 2018 at The Alltech Commonwealth Cup.
Company: Longueville House
Place of Origin: Mallow, Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Michelin and Dabinett varieties
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with an orange hue and a white short-lived head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has medicinal and herbal notes, light acetic note, hints of funk, beeswax, notes of grapefruit, red apples and still fermenting apples.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with a low acidity of lemon and low vinegar. On the mid-palate medicinal and herbal notes, a plain bitter taste, vanilla, light nail polish, notes of grapefruit, light astringent taste, orange, blood orange and grapefruit peel. It finishes dry, fruity and spicy at the same time with herbal notes, red apples, and a lingering astringent taste.

Overall: Mór is a very interesting and rich cider with a very broad palate of flavours. The maturation in apple brandy cask indeed added many notes and contributed to the complexity making the Mór tasting refreshing but at the same time heavy with the ABV of 8% (ABV is well hidden). With such a nice palate it will make a great winter cider. But personally, I prefer their Longueville House Cider much better. I guess it was just too heavy for my palate. Or it is too warm outside. Nevertheless, I think it is a very unique offering that will appeal to those who like heavy ciders. 4/6 

Availability: locally in Ireland in a number of restaurants/pubs/shops such as Joyce’s Supermarkets, O’Briens Wines or Super Valu Store. Online in Ireland from Ardkeen Quality Food Store, and online in Germany exclusively from CiderKultur, the Netherlands from Ciderwinkel.

Price: Longueville Mór was a sample provided by Longueville House and CiderKultur, a new webshop offering a wide selection of great cider.

Highbank Orchards Medieval Cider

Before I post my visit recap of CiderWorld 2018 I would like to share with you a review of cider that was available during CiderWorld at CiderKultur’s stand, a recently launched German webshop with craft cider.

Highbank Orchards is an organic farm based in Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, Ireland run by Julie and Rod Calder-Potts. The apple orchards were established in 1969 and have never seen any type of chemicals. Products offered by Highbank Orchards are strictly organic. Moreover, for their ciders, they use only apples and eventually honey for the Medieval Cider, which I’m going to review in a sec. They even don’t use sulphites “for freshness” how many cidermakers do. Today I give you the Medieval Cider from Highbank Orchards. Company: Highbank Orchards
Place of Origin: Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, Ireland
Ingredients: Irish organic apples with organic honey
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500 ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: it tries to escape the bottle after opening. Pours a hazy deep amber with a huge short-lived white head. Medium to high natural carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is tannic and smells lovely with notes of buckwheat honey, light caramel, red apples, overripe and baked apples with cinnamon.

Taste: it starts medium with low acidity. Red apples, overripe apples, some earthy notes, light smoky note, cinnamon and a strong astringent taste on the mid-palate. It finishes dry with a strong lingering astringent taste, a light cinnamon flavour, lightly chalky taste, distant lemon and a light note of buckwheat honey.

Overall: when I read that the Medieval Cider is made with honey I wasn’t really looking forward to trying it as I don’t have a sweet tooth. But the review had to be done. So I tried it. And, WOW! This cider is excellent! It starts with a gentle lick of sweetness, which is still within a palatable range to me. Then you experience a strong lingering tannic kick, which I always love in cider, with a touch of red apples. The addition of honey gives extra flavours to an already tasty cider made from cider apples. Well, I’d prefer it would taste a bit less sweet but for all of you looking out for an ultra-tasty sweet cider, this is a great offering. It will go well on a summer afternoon but also in the winter due to the cinnamon flavour. You’re gonna love it! 5/6 

Availability: from their online shop and on their organic farmIn Germany exclusively from CiderKultur. In the Netherlands from Ciderwinkel.

Price: Medieval Cider from Highbank Orchards was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Mac Ivors Medium

Did you know that County Armagh, where Mac Ivors Cider is based, is Ireland’s apple capital? Annually the County Armagh orchards produce 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of apples. More than that, there is even the famous apple festival, Apple Blossom Festival taking place each year in May celebrating Armagh’s heritage. Legend says that it was Saint Patrick in person, who planted the first apple tree at Ceangoba, east of Armagh City. However, the most orchards were set up in this fruit-growing region in the 1600’s. But the MacNeice orchards, where apples for Mac Ivors Cider come from, were established around 1855 and today manage around 110 acres. I’m having their Medium today, another award-winning cider from Mac Ivors’ line-up.Company: Mac Ivors Cider
Place of Origin: 
Ardress, Portadown, Armagh County, Northern Ireland, UK
a blend of over ten apple varieties incl. Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey
Sweetness as per label: 
Package type:
500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  
pint glass, chalice glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear straw with light greenish hues and a white short-lived foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it has a sweet and funky aroma with notes of lemon candy, pineapple, yellow, red and green apples and distant sulphur.

Taste: it starts medium sweet with low acidity. Pineapple, yellow apples, red apple with a hint of green apples, light red berries, light oak, lemon juice and lemon candy, light astringent taste and hints of funk appear on the mid-palate. In the aftertaste light grapefruit or bitter lemon bitterness with a light sulphur note and an earthy hint to it.

Overall: Mac Ivor’s Medium is a nicely refreshing cider with delicious notes of apples, lemon and pineapple. Surprisingly, it’s only slightly sweeter than their Traditional Dry, which I reviewed previously. In short, Mac Ivor’s Medium tastes like a lovely fusion of cider and lemon candy. I would like to taste it again served cold in the summer when it’s warm as I can imagine it would be truly refreshing. Food wise, I would pair it with poultry or a light meal. 4.5/6

Availability: widely available within the UK and Ireland, e.g. from Wines & Spirits or Emersons. In Germany from Bierkontor in Nuremberg, Bierothek LeipzigGetränkefeinkostDr. Hops, Uptown Coffee Bar and Olea in Leipzig, Getränkehandel Köthen  and The Shamrock – Irish Pub in Köthen, Fliese, Die Bierkanzlei and Rosis’s in Halle, Hopfenspeicher in Chemnitz, Der Shop am Hassel and Flowerpower in Magdeburg, Schankwirtschaft “Zur schwarzen Kunst” in Görlitz, Altes Handelshaus in Plauen, Landgasthof Dehnitz in Wurzen-Dehnitz, Getränkehandel Mierisch in Freital, Quedlinburger Wein- und Tabakhaus Trense in Quedlinburg. In Italy from Sidro & Cider. In France through Craft Cider Selection.

Price: MacIvors was a sample provided by Greg from MacIvors Cider.

Longueville House Cider

Michael O’Callaghan had a vision. He wanted to create an apple brandy, a product similar to French Calvados. The only one in Ireland. So, in 1985 he planted a cider apple orchard on his farm on the banks of the River Blackwater in Mallow, County Cork. Nowadays his son William leads the business. Not only he continues his father’s legacy, but he also expanded the product range to naturally-made cider. O’Callaghan’s cider, which is sold as Longueville House Cider, is produced on the farm by the cider maker Dan Duggan.
Longueville House
Place of Origin: Mallow, Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Michelin and Dabinett varieties
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy amber with orange hues and a short-lived head. Medium carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and has notes of barnyard, lemon, both red apple skin and red sour apples. I can also get a very distant vinegary flavour. Very pleasant and inviting aroma.

Taste: it starts with a pleasant light sweetness and a moderate acidity with a lemon touch. Then a taste of fermented red apples, some barnyard, smoky cheese and a distant solvent-like note appear followed by a very light watery flavour, notes of wood and a moderate to high mouth-puckering astringency. The finish is dry with a lingering astringency, a flavour of wood and a gentle bitter touch.

Overall: Longueville House Cider simply tastes excellent! Spectacular! It’s the first Irish cider I truly enjoyed. It’s beautifully balanced with lots of depth and rich flavours complementing each other. This cider will simply appeal to everyone. Not too sweet, not too dry, not too sour and not too funky. It looks like the list of my favourite ciders has just expanded. Indeed, Longueville House Cider is one of Ireland’s best ciders. Bravo! I’m gonna order some more once I gain more room in the cellar. 5.5/6 

Availability: locally in Ireland in a number of restaurants/pubs/shops such as Joyce’s Supermarkets, O’Briens Wines or Super Valu Store. Online in Ireland from Ardkeen Quality Food Store, and in the Netherlands (and other European countries upon request) from Ciderwinkel.

Price: purchased online at 5.95 EUR from Ciderwinkel