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.

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!

Brauhaus Gusswerk Papagena

Since Brauhaus Gusswerk is based in Salzburg, the city of Mozart, it’s not a surprise that the brewers named their cider after one of the characters of Mozart’s opera. Papagena is the love of Papageno, a bird catcher known from the most famous Mozart’s opera, the Magic Flute. The Papagena is an organic, vegan and sulphite-free cider made from apples grown in Mühlviertel. Previously, I sampled their Big Arlet.Company: Brauhaus Gusswerk
Place of Origin: Salzburg, Austria
Apples: organic apples grown in Mühlviertel
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 330ml clear bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass
organic, sulphite free, vegan

Appearance: pours a very cloudy pale golden and a white foam that only slowly dissipates. Lightly carbonated. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: smells of lightly sweet of fresh apple juice and fresh yellow apples, tart apples and a hint of yeast. Moderately strong scent.

Taste: it starts lightly sweet with a medium acidity of lemon. Taste of must and yeast with a light astringency. Finishes quickly with a refreshing taste of lemon flesh with a touch of bitterness.

Overall: I remember having this cider a few years back before becoming Cider Explorer. Back then, I thought that the Papagena was boring and tasted like an unmatured cider. Today, after evaluating nearly 300 ciders, I would consider the Papagena a pleasant and  complex enough drop. Not bad for a cider made by a brewer. Although, for my palate, it could be a bit less sweet and the taste more lingering and overall more exciting, but apart from that, it has a nice level of acidity and a good level of tannins. It’s a cider that can be appreciated by everyone. I would buy it again especially that it is widely available in Berlin. 4/6

Availability: broad in Germany e.g. from Ciderei and in Austria.

Price: The Papagena from Brauhaus Gusswerk was a sample provided by Ciderei

Pirn’sche Kälterei GoldCider Gurke 2016

Cider makers around the globe, especially in the U.S. tend to experiment with various fruits but also with veggies. Also, Steve from Pirn’sche Kälterei tried his luck at mixing apples with veggies, cucumbers to be more specific. Cucumbers are definitely summer refreshers, especially on a baking-hot day during a heatwave like the one we’re experiencing right now here in Europe. Since cucumbers are also grown in Saxon Switzerland, where Steve is based, he created a small batch of a cider infused with cucumbers. Previously I’ve tried Steve’s magnificent GoldCider Apfel 2016Company: Pirn’sche Kälterei
Place of Origin: Pirna, Saxony, Germany
Ingredients: apple sourced from old Saxonian orchards and cucumbers
ABV: 6.7%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white head that only slowly dissipates. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong and aromatic. On the nose refreshing notes of fresh cucumber, cucumber peel with earthy notes and distant hints of honey.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a high level of acidity. Further notes that come through are smoky notes, fresh cucumber, yellow apples, vinous notes and a hint of lychee. Finishes dry with a lingering acidity of cucumber.

Overall: both the taste and the nose of the GoldCider Gurke are intense but not as rich and complex as previously tasted GoldCider Apfel. I thought the GoldCider Gurke was one-dimensional as it basically tasted mainly of fresh cucumber with apples and a lightly vinous note. Surprisingly, I didn’t find it refreshing at all. But I can imagine that the GoldCider Gurke could benefit from combining with other fruits, veggies or spices. E.g. anise seeds? Also, in my opinion, a bit higher level of sweetness wouldn’t help much. The Gold CiderGurke might pair well with food but I don’t recommend drinking it on its own. Overall, I didn’t find it as spectacular as Steve’s GoldCider Apfel. Drinkable but without drinking pleasure. Steve, don’t give up. Just improve it. 3/6 

Availability: from Steve’s online shop

Price: GoldCider Gurke was a sample provided by Steve from Pirn’sche Kälterei.

Floribunda Ginger Cider

Although Franz Eggert of Floribunda passed me the bottle of his Ginger Cider already in April at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt, I resisted to sample it simply because I thought that the ginger flavour will be too hot or too spicy. But after trying a cider with ginger from another cider maker, try to guess which one ;-), I understood that ginger can add some refreshing taste to it and decided to finally give it a go after an extreme delay. Apologies, Franz!Company: Floribunda
Place of Origin: Salurn/Salorno, South Tyrol, Italy
Ingredients: apples and ginger
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 750 ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: no sulphites, organic

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a little white head that quickly dissipates.  Medium and natural carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong with beautiful notes of flowers such as lily of the valley and lily. Also, aromas of grapefruit, blood orange, and dried ginger. 

Taste: it begins dry with a touch of sweetness and low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate orange, a bit watery taste, yellow apples, dry ginger, light spiciness and lily. Finishes dry with some spiciness to it and flowery notes.

Overall: the nose is absolutely spectacular! Strong, clear with no hints of funk, only flowers and a ginger-citrusy touch. I don’t remember trying anything like this before. It took me ages (ok, 10 minutes tops) before I took the first sip cause the smell was so hypnotizing. Do I have to mention that the nose increased expectations to an extremely high level? Taste wise the Ginger Cider is complex with layers of flavours, pleasant and very easily drinkable. Extremely refreshing and not too spicy. I especially loved the lily notes coming right after the dried ginger making it really something. But it finishes a bit too fast and tastes a tiny bit too watery. Also, the taste of apple was only detectable far in the background. I think the palate is very unique although I must confess that I expected a tiny bit more. In my opinion, the Ginger Cider is a very good drop that stands out, is suitable for every palate and time of the year. I really loved its unique aroma and palate. If I could I would drink it every day. A must try! Would pair well with Asian dishes and chicken. 5/6

Availability: directly from Floribunda. In Spain from Aramburu Cultura Gastronómica.

Price: Franz kindly passed me a bottle at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt

Floribunda Apfel-Cider

Floribunda is a small family business from Salorno, South Tyrol, Italy made up by Franz Egger and his daughter Magdalena. The Egger family has been growing apples since the 1980’s, and making cider since 2002 when their first cider made from Gravensteiner hit the shelves. Through the years the Eggers have been experimenting with various apple varieties, fruits and introducing new ciders. In 2005 they switched to the unfiltered and sulphite-free manufacturing.

Today I’m reviewing their Apfel-Cider, which is made from three organic apple varieties Topaz, Gold Rush and Pilot. Apfel-Cider received 90 points in the category of sparkling cider at the CiderWorld Awards 2018 in Frankfurt.Company: Floribunda
Place of Origin: Salurn/Salorno, South Tyrol, Italy
Apples: a blend of Pilot, Gold Rush and Topaz
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750 ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  flute or chalice glass

Note: no sulphites, organic

Appearance: pours a cloudy straw yellow with a huge quickly dissipating white head. High and natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is not very strong but extremely rich with notes of yellow apples, apple stems, fresh green leaves. Also, lightly floral with notes of gooseberries, fresh white grapes and skins, and distant fresh quince. That’s not all, a note of caramel appears once the Apfel-Cider warms up a little.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a touch of sweetness with a low to medium acidity of lemon. Then it gets a little bit watery with fruity and floral notes incl. rose, lychee, light banana, passionfruit, green apples. The finish is dry with a distant green grassy note, light astringency, a hint of bitterness with gooseberries,  fresh green apples and light pear. Also, a very distant sauerkraut and butter note.

Overall: I’m speechless. The more I’m drinking Floribunda’s Apfel-Cider the more the taste comes through and more unique aromas and flavours I get to discover. The flavours might be not strong, but they are clearly there and transform all the time into completely new flavours that weren’t there just a minute ago. Really amazing. Set of flavours on both, the nose and the palate are really special. Also, I like the almost creamy texture of this cider. A really pleasant and light drop. Nevertheless, I still have a few critical notes. First of all, the aroma could be stronger and despite many layers of delicious flavours, there are a few notes that might be considered as disturbing. In addition, the aromas on the palate could be a little more lingering as the taste disappears a bit too fast. In summary, Floribunda’s Apfel-Cider is a light and aromatic cider for connaisseurs, for those who take time and deeply explore what they drink. I loved it but it’s not for everyone. Will you take up the challenge? 4.5/6

Availability: directly from Floribunda. In Spain from Aramburu Cultura Gastronómica.

Price: Franz kindly passed me a bottle at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt

Dorset Nectar Wildcat Cider

Is the Wildcat Cider from Dorset Nectar as wild as the name indicates? Is it sharp as the wildcat’s claw and teeth? Or dangerously good? There is only one way to find out.Company: Dorset Nectar
Place of Origin: Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: local organic cider apples 
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass
Note: no sulphites, fermented with natural yeast

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber with orange hues and no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle. Little flecks floating as well.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and exhibits notes of fresh apple juice, tart apples and red apples with caramel, beeswax and leather,

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery with a delicate sweetness and very strong tannins coating your mouth and giving a strong astringent flavour (detectable throughout the whole sip). On the mid-palate red apples, caramel, low to medium acidity with a lemon citrusy taste, some funk, fresh apple juice and apple seed-bitterness. After a while, a grapefruit-like bitterness appears on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with notes of watermelon or melon. A tingling sensation on the tongue to the end.

Overall: this cider falls into a category of anti-social ciders due to the strong astringent taste that by drying your mouth shut your mouth 🙂 Similarly to the previously reviewed Old Harry Rocks the taste explodes in the first sip leaving your eyes wide open.  But then, a beautiful lingering appley and citrusy flavour appear. It’s like a dance of many flavours. Yet it tastes different than the good Old Harry Rocks. Also, I don’t remember having a cider with both types of bitterness before, grapefruit and apples-seeds-like, which were both fantastic! The Wildcat is a lovely pour with pronounced tannins, full body and a powerful apple taste. I loved it. 4.5/6

 Availability: in the UK only. From their online shop, Eebria, Fetch the Drinks, Cider Supermarket. Locally in Bristol from Bottles and Books.

Price: came with my monthly subscription from Orchard Box.