Finnbarra Tobairín

Time for a brief Irish lesson. Finnbarra, an Irish cider maker has created a light cider, with only 1.5% ABV and called it Tobairín. ‘Tobar’ means ‘well and ‘ín’ refers to small or light. Taken together, Tobairín means ‘little well’.

Interestingly, its low alcohol content is due to the second pressing of the apple pomace. Once fermented, Tobairín is back sweetened with fresh apple juice. Company: Nohoval Brewing Company Limited
Place of Origin: Nohoval, Kindle, County Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Elstar with Jonagored
ABV: 1.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: chalice glass or pint glass

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

Aroma/Nose: on the nose sweet freshly cut yellow and red apples with red berries, cranberries and a distant buttery note.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate cotton candy followed by a watery note, yellow and red apples, red berries such as strawberries, and cranberries. Finishes dry with a light astringent taste and a touch of buttery taste.

Overall: the ABV of barely 1.5% would rather suggest a high sweetness level, but to my surprise, Tobairín is not overly/syrupy sweet. It has a very palatable level of sweetness even to me. Also, the medium level of carbonation makes it a quite nice and refreshing cider. But the taste quickly disappears, doesn’t linger on given the fact that it is quite sweet. Anyway, it’s a good alternative for cider drinkers who are drivers at the same time. And, for those who like sweet cider. 3/6

Availability: in Ireland available as Stonewell Irish Cider, e.g. from Ardkeen, Baggot Street Wines or Redmonds of Ranelagh. In Germany available online from Cider Kultur or Ciderandmore. In Berlin from Hopfen und Malz.

Price: Tobairín was a sample provided by Cider Kultur

Advertisements

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: 500ml 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
Apples: 
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: 
medium
ABV:
4.5%
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.

Mac Ivors Traditional Dry

Greg MacNeice is a Northern Irish specialist in Armagh Bramley apples, which were grown on the farm in County Armagh since 1855. In 2012, Greg has launched Mac Ivors Cider making a step from an apple grower to a cider maker. Today Mac Ivors Ciders is a successful family-owned and operated business, with a range of four ciders, featuring Traditional Dry, Medium, Plum & Ginger and Vintage Reserve.

I’m trying their Traditional Dry today, launched in 2012 and made from ten apple varieties, including Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey.

Greg’s Traditional Dry has picked up a number of awards, including the International Brewing & Cider Awards 2017 (Gold), Great Taste 2016 (Gold Star), National Trust Fine Farm Food Award 2017, Blas na h’Eireann Awards 2016, Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards 2015 (Silver) and National Trust Fine Farm Food Award 2017. Quite impressive!

Company: Mac Ivors Cider
Place of Origin: Ardress, Portadown, Armagh County, Northern Ireland, UK
Apples: a blend of ten apple varieties incl. Armagh Bramley and cider apples such as Michelin, Dabinett and Harry Master’s Jersey
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a tiny short-lived foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and exhibits notes of yellow apple, red apple, red berries. with wild hints and a distant note of sulphur.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet (rather medium dry than dry) with low to medium lemon-like acidity. Subsequently, notes of honey, yellow and red apple, moderate grapefruit-bitterness, light red berries and moderately astringent taste appear on the mid-palate. Also, I can pick up a light vinous and smoky note (only in the beginning). A lingering grapefruit skin-like bitterness with a slightly sharp taste and biting carbonation with a distant sulphur note in the aftertaste.

Overall: Dry from Mac Ivors is a very pleasant and refreshing everyday cider. It has a wide palate, full of fruity notes of apples and red berries. Also, red berries and lemon-like acidity with the crisp apple taste add freshness making the Traditional Dry a perfect summer pour. On top of that, it’s a good entry cider as it’s tasty but not too dry or too sharp but still has depth. I wish their Dry was available in every Irish pub instead of the industrial Magners. Overall, a very nice Irish tipple. I could have it again. 4/6

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: Mac Ivors Traditional Dry was a sample provided by Greg from MacIvors Cider.

Tempted Dry

Tempted Irish Craft Cider is a family-run cidery from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, UK. It was established only in 2009 by Dave Uprichard, who is a first generation cider-maker. At Tempted only Irish apples are used, including Armagh Bramley Apple with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Currently, Tempted Irish Craft Cider have five different ciders in their line-up, Sweet, Medium Dry, Dry, Elderflower and Strawberry.  Their range of ciders picked up plenty of national and international cider awards. Today I’m reviewing the Dry.Company: Tempted Irish Craft Cider
Place of Origin: Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Apples: dessert and Bramley apples sourced locally
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.7%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with a massive short-lived white foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and has notes of white wine, apple juice, cider apples, caramel, oak, apple flesh, fermented apples. Also, a distant buttery note. The scent is very rich and inviting.

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery and dry, but not bone dry, with medium acidity. The mid-palate has notes of a fresh apple juice and a regular apple juice with fermented apples and white wine. The aftertaste is also dry with a lingering note of smoked cheese with a touch of bitterness, watermelon and low astringent taste.

Overall: Tempted’s Dry is a refreshing combination of culinary apples with cider apples. It is a really decent cider, full-bodied with a good structure and satisfying taste. Also, it’s not bone dry, but not sweet either, which makes the Dry a lovely food-friendly crowd pleaser. I enjoyed it the crisp appley taste and would love to have it again. Sadly, the Dry is not available in Germany yet. 4.5/6

Availability: many pubs in Nothern Ireland have their cider in stock. Online in the UK from Amazon, Martin’s Off-Licence, Drink Finder. (Constantine Stores Ltd). Locally from Bottles and Books in Bristol, UK or The Winehouse in Trim, Ireland. In Italy from Sidro & Cider.

Price: came with my craft cider subscription delivered monthly by Orchard Box

 

 

 

 

Legacy Irish Craft Cider

Given the fact that the first written mention of cider in Ireland dates back to 1155, you’d expect a huge number of cider makers out there. But it’s not the case. The craft cider boom has only recently reached the green island just like the rest of Europe. This created a terrific opportunity to Liam McDonnell from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, to start a new business based on apples from orchards that were planted by his grandfather Willsie McDonell in the 1930’s and subsequently researched by his father, Dr Pat McDonnell. Apple growing, apple studies, cider making. Apple-related activities just run in the McDonnell family. Hence the name, Legacy.Company: Legacy Irish Craft Cider
Place of Origin: Carrigoe, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland
Apples: three apple varieties are used in the blend
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5%
Package type:  500ml brown glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, wine glass or flute

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale golden with a huge, quickly disappearing white head. High natural carbonation. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits lovely notes of crisp sour apples, yellow apples, fermented apples, wood and something floral with a hint of funk and distant paint remover.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet with low acidity and a hint of lemon. On the mid-palate yellow apples, pear, a gentle funky and smoky note with a touch of astringency. Distant notes of the grapefruit and apple seed-like bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall: This is the 3rd Irish cider I have ever tried after the Finnbarra’s Dry and Longueville House Cider. However, I can’t compare Legacy Cider to any of them as it simply has its own style.  It’s refreshing and very quaffable. Legacy is a cider I could have with every meal, every time of the year, simply every day. Just a casual but extremely pleasant drop. It’s indeed medium dry as advertised. Interestingly, it’s lovely taste disappears very fast, it doesn’t linger on. This is perhaps the reason why you crave for the next sip and the bottle gets empty in no time. Summarizing, well-rounded, light and delicious, the Legacy Cider is a crowd pleaser. I would buy more. 5/6

Availability: only in Waterford and Cork county in Ireland for now, but they are planning to go nationwide.

Price: this cider was kindly sent to me by Liam from Legacy Cider.