Ramborn Apple and Pear Blend Cider 2017

Today’s review is about the Apple & Pear Blend crafted by Ramborn Cider Co from Luxembourg. As the name already indicates, it is a blend of apples and pears coming from Meadow Orchard harvested in 2017. Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Fruit: apples and pears
ABV: 7.4%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden and a large short-lived white foam. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: moderately strong, ripe pear, vinegar, white wine, a hint of ripe yellow apples. lightly sweetish. pear in vinegar. Pear is dominating.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a touch of sweetness, low acidity of lemon and vinegar. Low persistent bitterness (in the beginning), ripe pear, white wine, low caramel and very low astringency. Finishes with herbal notes of martini bianco with oily thyme and distant Sauerkraut.

Overall: this year has started with some strange tasting ciders. This is the second one after the recently reviewed, Na de Val from Antidoot. While I enjoyed the Na de Val very much, I can’t say this about the Apple & Perry Blend 2017 from Ramborn. It has a structure and complexity, but unfortunately, it’s not a good composition. The persistent bitterness along with moderate vinegary & lemon acidity and grassy, vermouth-like taste make this cider taste unpleasant. I didn’t like it. I shared this bottle with a friend, who shared my opinion. She thought it tasted rather strange and very unpleasant. We didn’t manage to drink the whole bottle. It breaks my heart as I really do like the Ramborn team, but their Apple & Pear Blend 2017 is not a good offering. Sorry, guys. 2/6

Availability: in Luxembourg from Ramborn’s farm.

Price: Apple & Pear Blend was sent to me by Ramborn Cider Co for testing.

Ramborn Single Malt Whisky Barrel Aged 2016

After the Ramborn Vintage Luxembourg Perry 2017, I’m going to sample cider that was made with Luxembourgish apples pressed in 2016, blended and subsequently aged in a single malt whisky barrel.Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: Luxembourgish apple varieties
ABV: 9.4%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber/golden with no head. No carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong and aromatic with notes of wood, vanilla, coconut, smokiness, alcohol and a hint of pineapple and mirabelle plums.

Taste: it starts dry with a moderate acidity of lemon. Further notes mirabelle plum, burnt caramel, a touch of bitterness, smokiness, vanilla. Finishes dry with a touch of lemon, caramel, wood and hint of ripe juicy apricots.

Overall: I know what you’re thinking. Cider aged in whisky barrel must taste brilliant.  Well, not exactly. You can clearly taste the impact of ageing in the barrel as you get notes of wood, vanilla, smokiness, pineapple and coconut. But only fruity notes of mirabelle plum and ripe juicy apricots reveal that it was actually cider aged in that single malt whisky barrel. It’s very rich in terms of flavours and interestingly they come and go. In that sense, it is a quality product. But I found it a bit overdone. The influence of barrel ageing on aroma and taste is too strong and masks the taste of the fruit. I think it’s good. Many will find it fantastic though. 4/6

Availability: in Luxembourg from Ramborn’s farm.

Price: Single Malt Whisky Barrel Aged 2016 Harvest was provided by Ramborn Cider Co.

Ramborn Vintage Luxembourg Perry 2017 Harvest

Ramborn Cider from Luxembourg has just released six different limited edition ciders and one perry. I’m one of the lucky ones who received samples of these exquisite products. I’ll kick off with the Ramborn Vintage Luxembourg Perry 2017 harvest. As a refresher, Luxembourgish perry pears are famous for their high tannin content. Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Pears: traditional pear varieties including Nelchesbirne and Mostbirne
ABV: 6.1%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with an orange hue and a large short-lived white foam. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is strong and aromatic with notes of ripe pear, green apples, vinegar, bubblegum and herbal notes.

Taste: it begins lightly sweet with a strong tannic kick and very low acidity. Notes of ripe pears, low vinegary notes, a bit watery, strong astringency on the mid-palate. Finishes dry and quite fast with persistent astringency, a light note of caramel and a touch of fresh cucumber.

Overall: the astringency of Luxembourgish perry pears will never stop amazing me. The Ramborn perry starts with a strong tannic kick, which stays as the tannin is detectable throughout the whole sip. Sadly, the taste is short and finishes quickly. Only the mouth-puckering astringency stays almost forever. In addition, the perry tastes slightly watery. It’s not a bad offering but I have the impression that ageing didn’t do well to this perry.   Ramborn’s perry from their regular lineup is much more appealing. In summary, worth trying as the astringency is very special but the overall taste impression is unfortunately average. 3/6

Availability: in Luxembourg from Ramborn’s farm.

Price: Perry was sent to me by Ramborn Cider Co for testing.

Ramborn Somerset Blend

Cider has deep roots in Somerset, UK. This is indisputable. But Luxembourg, this tiny country bordering Germany, France and Belgium, has also a beautiful tradition related to the beverage made from fermented apples called locally ‘viez’. So why not combine Somerset and Luxembourg cider heritage together in one bottle? That’s how the Somerset Blend was created, a blend of traditional apple varieties of these two regions, Luxembourg and Somerset.Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: a blend of Luxembourgish and English apples
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with an amber hue and a small quickly dissipating white head. Almost no carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose notes of caramel, yellow and red apples, ripe fresh yellow apples, apple stems and oak with a hint of herbal notes.

Taste: it begins moderately dry with a low acidity. Subsequently, a strong astringent taste gets more prevalent on the taste with a light bitterness of burnt caramel, ripe yellow apples, yellow and red apples and pears. Finishes dry with a light bitterness, a note of burnt caramel, light woody with a touch of yellow apples.

Overall: if I were to create a cider that would be an ode to Somerset and its cider but with a Luxembourgish twist I would have created it exactly like this. Quite strong, but moreish tannins, notes of caramel with lovely lingering apple notes. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Ramborn’s Somerset Blend is a complex and easily drinkable cider offering a journey in the glass from Luxembourg to the English Somerset. I loved it. And, you’re gonna love it too. 4.5/6

Availability: all over Luxembourg. In Germany from The Hop Shop Trier and online through Ciderei. In the Netherlands from CiderCider. In Italy from Sidro&Cider. In Switzerland through Ciderhouse.ch. In the UK through Crafty Nectar. In Belgium from Fermenthings.

Price: Somerset Blend was a sample provided by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

Ramborn Hopped Cider Cascade 2016

Hopped Cider is becoming a thing also in Europe now. Started a while ago in the US, now hopped cider is becoming more and more in demand from consumers also in “the Old Continent”. Following this trend, Ramborn created a cider with Cascade hops.

Cascade hops were discovered in the 1960ties in Oregon as USDA 56013 but released only in 1972 when import prices of noble hops from Germany went to the roof due to a hop disease. Cascade is the hop that gave rise to the craft beer movement in the US and is one of the most popular hops among craft brewers.  Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Ingredients: local apples and Cascade hops from Oregon (US)
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.4%
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 amber hues and a tiny short-lived white head. Almost no carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is not rich, but quite powerful with notes of elderflower, pear and green notes and hay.

Taste: my first taste is medium dry, medium acidity, smoky note, low to medium astringency, lemon, elderflower, crisp red apple and green apple. it finishes dry with a distant bitter note and a touch of green or unripe apple.

Overall: Ramborn’s Hopped Cascade is a definitely rich cider with depth and structure. But I must agree with Cider Says who reviewed Ramborn’s Hopped Cider a few months back. Indeed, this is a pleasant cider but doesn’t stand out like some of the ciders from the Ramborn’s range such as the Original, Farmhouse of Erbachhofer. The influence of hops is slightly stronger, the flavour of cider is much less noticeable. Perhaps not dominating, but still powerful. Long story short, for me there is not enough apple in this cider. But I think that those who like their cider hopped will be more than satisfied.  4/6

Availability: all over Luxembourg. In Germany from The Hop Shop Trier. In the Netherlands from CiderCider. In Italy from Sidro&Cider. In the UK through Crafty Nectar.

Price: Hopped Cider Cascade 2016 was a sample provided by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

Ramborn Kingston Black

No, Kingston Black is not an apple variety typical for Luxembourg. Kingston Black comes actually from Kingston, near Taunton, Somerset, the UK and produces a bittersharp juice, which is just splendid for making cider. It contains a nice balance of tannins, sugar and acids, which make this apple variety suitable for single-varietal cider. But how did Kingston Black end up in Luxembourg? It’s easy. Ramborn has entered into a collaboration with Peter Mitchell, who is an internationally renowned cider and perry authority.

Kingston Black is a limited edition cider from Ramborn Cider. Only 3000 bottles were produced. I’m trying one of them. Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Kingston Black
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.3%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a little quickly dissipating white head. Almost no carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is slightly sweet with an acidic touch and exhibits notes of red and yellow apples, caramel, butter toffee, juicy fresh apple with a hint of green apples.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with a faintly watery note and low acidity. Subsequently, a hint of green apple, red apple, freshly pressed red apple juice, crisp apple with a delicate astringent taste appears. It ends with an apple seed, apple stems, and a lingering caramel-like bitterness, which moves to a red apple taste. It has a spicy alcohol bite to it and tastes lightly chalky as well.

Overall: Kingston Black tastes like a cross between English cider and German cider (not to confuse with German Apfelwein). It’s a good drop, but not mind-blowing simply because the alcohol burn in the aftertaste doesn’t allow you to appreciate lovely initial tastes of crisp apple, red and green apples with caramel. Due to the alcohol burn, I have the impression that Kingston Black is slightly out of balance so I think I prefer Ramborn’s experiments with local fruits than with English cider apples. Summarizing, the Kingston Black is a nice tipple with a kick. 4/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited to Ramborn’s farm. In Germany available perhaps from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Kingston Black was sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

Highlights and The Top 10 Ciders of 2017

As we wrap up another year, it’s time to look back at some of the most memorable ciders reviewed in 2017. It so happens that also my first year of blogging comes to a close. So I thought I’ll share with you my thoughts on 2017 from a perspective of a Berlin-based cider blogger.

First of all, I’ve met many inspiring people who taught me many things about cider, opened my eyes to the challenges and issues related to cider making and distribution and sales of the finished product in Europe. Thank you for sharing so many interesting stories and your experience with me!

My second observation is that real/craft cider is always made by passionate people, who not always are skilled and talented as Tom Oliver or Eric Bordelet, but they all share true love to cider and cider making. Some cider makers have a great potential for development but their cider still requires some improvement. Sometimes their cider just needs more time…

In addition, it was fascinating to see how the taste of cider might change with every batch. For example, Polish cider Japko (see the review here) I have tried in 2016 tasted much better than this year’s batch.

Last but not least, I’m proud that I have managed to bring together cider lovers from many European countries. Countries not always having a deep-rooted history of cider making. But as it turns out, cider brings people together! This is why the information about closing InCider Bar in Prague at the end of 2017 hit me really hard. InCider Bar was a unique place in Europe and will be sorely missed. But life goes on and cider drinkers can still meet at cider-themed events such as Slavnost Cideru in Prague, where you can talk to other cider lovers sharing their passion for cider just like you do. Btw, next year you can meet me on January 26th at the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018.

But let’s get to the point. In 2017 I’ve reviewed around 200 different ciders mainly from Europe, but also from Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand. Some of them were exceptional and I couldn’t get enough of them, some of them went down the sink drain. And trust me, it was a real challenge to select only 10 out of over 200 ciders I have sampled (incl. cider tastings, cider festivals and ciders tried in Canada). So after long discussions (with myself) I have put together the top ten best ciders I’ve tried in 2017. I’ve selected ciders that are still available so you can purchase them and make your own opinion about them. The ciders are in alphabetical order by cider maker. Cheers and a happy cider year 2018!

  • A.K. Cider, Limonka, Vizovice, the Czech Republic, made with Jadernicka moravska (Pépin de Moravie)

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I’ve tried a number of Czech ciders this year, mainly at Slavnost Cideru 2017, but Limonka crafted by Martin from A.K. Cider was one of the best. Limonka has a complex structure and each note is nicely balanced not dominating over another. Not entirely dry, but also not too acidic Limonka is just perfect for a larger audience. I loved it! For the full review click here.

 

  • Chyliczki, Cydr Lodowy 2015, Masovia Poland

17410099_10154996658845915_458951715_nMy first acquaintance with ice cider made by Polish Cydr Chyliczki Was at the cider tasting organised by Przemek Iwanek from Piwo i Cydr in Warsaw. I was instantly blown away by Chyliczki’s ice cider. The only cider so far that got 6 out of 6. High acidity beautifully balancing out the sweetness makes this cider drinkable for everyone. Plus the flavour of baked apples and spices. Fantastic! For the full review click here.

  • Divoke Jablko, Cidre Brut, Klatovy District in the Plzeň Region, Czech Republic

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The most frequently consumed cider at Slavnost Cideru 2017, at least by me. Lovely citrusy notes of blood orange, lemon and grapefruit with a hint of funk add complexity and make this cider very quaffable. A cider for everyone. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Dorset Nectar, Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, UK,  a blend of Brown, Dabinett, Coate Jersey, Michelin, Tremletts Bitter, Taylor, Chesil Jersey, Sweet Coppin, Harry Master’s Jersey, Yarlington Mill and Porter’ Perfection

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Old Harry Rocks is like a jazz jam session, where each flavour would play it’s own music at the same time creating a wonderful, balanced, and unique piece. Lovely refreshing due to citrusy flavours and rustic to light funky notes. A masterpiece! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

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Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my favourites. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Gutshof Kraatz, Wilde Kerle 2016 – Uckermark, Germany – a cuvée of apples growing in the wild

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Soft tannins, fruity apple forward palate along with exceptionally long and lingering aftertaste make this Apfelwin a clear finalist and one of my favourite ciders. Perfect for slowly sipping will pair well with any kind of food. For the full review click here.

 

 

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This is the only Irish cider that made it to the top ten. But Longueville House Cider tastes really sophisticated and exceptional at the same time. 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. Pure heaven! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Perry’s Cider, Grey Heron, Somerset, UK, a blend of Redstreak and Dabinett

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I guess that any cider produced at Perry’s would taste glorious. It was already difficult for me to choose between the Grey Heron and The Barn Owl, which I’ve sampled in 2017. In the end, I’ve chosen the Grey Heron cause I will never forget the first sip of this cider. Lovely complex, with intensive taste, strong tannins and multiple flavours. Sweet but yet very drinkable. Unforgettable. For the full review click here.

 

  • Ramborn Cider, Farmhouse, Luxembourg – a blend of Erbachhofer, Holzapfel and Wiesenapfel

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Perhaps there is only one cidery in Luxembourg but a cidery producing outstanding ciders from locally available apple varieties. Farmhouse made it to the top ten although their Avalon Vintage 2015 tasted also spectacular, yet is not as widely available as the Farmhouse. The Farmhouse is a perfect marriage of oaky whisky notes with a crisp red apple. With every taken sip I could hear the angels singing. For the full review click here.

 

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There are many producers of sidra in Asturias but only 1947 Sidra Natural from Viuda de Angelon tasted good enough to be mentioned here. Nicely balanced sidra with a spectacular palate. Dangerously drinkable, will make you empty the bottle in no time. For the full review click here.