Cornish Orchards Gold (draught)

It all started in 1992 when Andy Atkinson arrived at the Duchy of Cornwall farm and planted three apple orchards. In 1999 he had one of the largest collections of Cornish apple varieties and established a cider producing company, Cornish Orchards, which was then acquired in 2016 by Fuller’s, the London Brewer and Pub Operator. It’s my first time trying anything from this cider maker. The Gold is a triple-filtered cider made from a mix of cider and dessert apples. Company: Cornish Orchards
Place of Origin: Duloe, Cornwall, UK
Apples: a blend of cider and dessert apples from Cornwall
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a little white foam. Medium carbonation. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: not so much on the nose. Smells of commercial apple juice with notes of lemon with a hint of citric acid.

Taste: it starts very dry and sour, you can actually taste citric acid throughout the whole sip. A note of commercial apple juice and a hint of green apples on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and sour with a lingering flavour of citric acid.

Overall: I didn’t find the Gold drinkable at all. Well, perhaps only in gulps, but not in sips. It’s really sad to see what happened when an award-winning company was taken over by Fuller’s. Also, this is a good example of what happens to cider after it is triple-filtered. Only a flavour of citric acid with a faint apple note remain. I wouldn’t buy it again. 2/6

Availability: broad in the UK. Bottled from Demon Drinks in Germany.

Price: paid 5.30 GBP at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 in the London’s Pride Pub.

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Dunkertons Court Royal

Dunkertons like to experiment with single varietal ciders. Previously, I’ve tried their brilliant single varietal Breakwells Seedling. This time, however, I’m about to sample their Court Royal. Court Royal is a sweet cider apple with low tannin and low acid, which originated in East Devon.
Company: 
Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Court Royal from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white short-lived head. Medium carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has still fermenting apples, fresh yellow apples, lightly acidic. some green apple. The nose is not so strong.

Taste: it starts medium dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate green and yellow apples with a smoky and vinous note. The aftertaste has hints of fresh green and yellow apples, apple skin of green apples with a light biting taste of alcohol and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: briefly, the Court Royal tastes like a flavourful cross between cider made from eating apples and traditional cider. Meaning it’s easily drinkable, light yet very refreshing and absolutely not boring. Taste wise perhaps not extremely rich, but it still has a nice depth and structure for a single-varietal cider. The nose is not strong but is clear and full of apple aromas. The Royal Court is a cider for everyone and will taste great on a day like this with lots of sunshine. I assure you it will uplift your mood after a bad day at work as well. I’d like t to have it again. 4/6

Availability: broad in the UK through BristolCiderShop or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited in the Netherlands to Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Germany to CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Court Royal was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Hogan’s Hip Hop

Hogan’s is another cider maker trying to provide additional flavours by using Cascade and Chinook hops. Hogan’s efforts have been recognised by the jury panel of the International Cider Awards 2018 this year as the Hip Hop picked up Bronze in the category ‘flavoured cider’.Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites), Cascade and Chinook hops
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale orange with a large quickly dissipating white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is dry and smells of grapefruit, zinc oxide-eugenol cement used in dentistry, lemon, yellow apples, orange, a hint of tangerine.

Taste: it begins dry with no detectable sweetness and low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate notes of grapefruit, a slight astringent taste, a watery note and a smoky note, with something that numbs the tongue like eugenol. Also, a hint of tangerine, orange and a hint of elderflower. Finishes dry with a grapefruit note, some smokiness and light astringency.

Overall: interestingly, Hogan’s Hip Hop doesn’t really taste like a hopped cider. Let me explain why. Most flavours that you can get such as grapefruit or orange usually can be found also in a cider that was made from proper cider apples and/or barrel-aged. I couldn’t get much of the dry hop character such as hop bitterness or herbal aromas that often associate hopped ciders. Perhaps a hint of elderflower that often comes with hops. The aroma is pleasant and clear, the palate has an interesting array of flavours and a pleasant structure and length. The Hip Hop is citrusy and refreshing. I’d wish perhaps more apple flavour here but I can’t say I’m not enjoying this drop. Smooth and drinkable cider to celebrate the end of the day. 4/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur.

Price: Hogan’s Hip Hop was a sample provided by Cider Kultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Oliver’s Traditional Cider

When I learned that Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry will attend CiderWorld in Frankfurt I got very excited. It’s not every day that your idol stands right in front of you. Even better, when your idol is even aware that you exist and even reads your blog posts! Tom is not only a great cider maker but a warm and witty person of fascinating personality as it turns out. Today I give you Oliver’s Traditional Cider. Company: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pochard, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: bittersweet and bittersharp cider apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with no head. Still. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and spicy with notes of juniper berries, a hint of cloves and vanilla. Also, fresh red apples, cider apples, smokiness with some green herbal undernotes.

Taste: my initial taste is dry with medium acidity of lemon. what comes next is a pungent smoky note, which lingers on and on. Then a flavour of olive brine, ripe yellow apples, strong astringent taste with a bit watery flavour and law saltiness appear. The finish is dry with a light aftertaste of juniper berries.

Overall: before I even tasted the Traditional, just took a sniff, I knew it would pair well with savoury dishes such as sausages or tapas. My first sip only confirmed it. Oliver’s Traditional Cider is a cider that should be served with food, especially based on pork and beef. But I guess vegetarians could enjoy it with quiche as well. Good length, good nose, nice structure. I must admit that I tried it at CiderWorld in Frankfurt at CiderKultur‘s booth first and wasn’t really fond of it. But at home, I’ve tried it at a pretty low temperature and it turned out to be a good idea. Therefore, I would definitely buy it again. But it has to be properly chilled to really enjoy it. A unique offering that will complement your food. 4.5/6 

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham,  and many others. In Amsterdam from Appels en Perren. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s Traditional cider was a sample provided by CiderKultur

Hogan’s Dry

John Stewart was a very special person in Hogan’s life. John was Hogan’s neighbour and the person who actually introduced Alan Hogan to cider and cider making. It is thanks to John Alan learned how to make cider from locally grown cider apples and how to appreciate it. Think about John Stewart next time you drink Hogan’s cider.

Today I’m trying their Dry, which is advertised as peaty and smoky.Company: Hogan’s
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is tannic with hints of funk, notes of lemon, grapefruit and beeswax with a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: it starts relatively dry with a low acidity of both lemon and acetic acidity. Then the taste moves to notes of grapefruit (quite prevalent), blood orange, light beeswax, a light watery taste, smoky note and a medium astringent taste. It finishes dry with citrusy notes of grapefruit and with a smoky note. Also, there is a lightly biting taste due to carbonation.

Overall: similarly to the previously reviewed Medium, the Dry from Hogan’s could be described as a cross between English cider and a Spanish sidra. But it’s drier, similarly rich, yet light and watery. It’s a nice cider with a refreshing citrusy and smoky twist, exactly as advertised. Too watery perhaps so I would suggest considering to not water down this cider that much. Overall, it didn’t hook me but I thought it was quite ok. A pleasant, refreshing and light cider for every palate. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by CiderKultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Hogan’s Medium

2005 is the year when Allen and Jane Hogan brought their 20-year-old hobby to the next level and established Hogan’s Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire, UK. They sold their first cider at Stratford Farmers market and quickly gained happy returning customers. Profits allowed Allen and Jane to expand and focus entirely on cider making and experimenting with various ingredients such as elderflower or dark muscovado sugar.

Hogan’s have a very impressive line-up featuring Dry, Medium, Vintage Perry, French Revelation, Killer Sharp, Hip Hop, Libertine and High Sobriety available in bottles. And, Original Draught, Harvest Press, Hazy Rays, Lonely Partridge Perry, Panking Pole, Wild Elder and Mulled on tap. I’m giving their Medium a go. Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a quickly dissipating white head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: smells slightly vinous and fruity with notes of yellow and red apples, red fresh apples, red fruits, berries, grapefruit with hints of funk and a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet of caramel, with a low acidity of both lemon and distant vinegar. Notes of yellow and red apples, light funk, lightly syrupy, some smokiness with a light astringent taste and a touch of light apple seed bitterness, which with time transforms to a grapefruit bitterness. The finish is dry and has a lingering note of caramel and a pleasant lingering bitter note of grapefruit peel.

Overall: after reading the label I was quite sceptical at first, but honestly, the Medium tastes natural. The aroma resembles dessert apples with an acetic note typical for Spanish sidra. Taste-wise you will find many flavours, but classical English cider notes clearly take over the palate. Therefore, I would describe Hogan’s Medium as a fusion of English cider with Spanish sidra and eating apples (although Hogan’s claim it is made entirely from cider apples). Despite many interesting notes on the palate, I thought Hogan’s was quite average. I didn’t think it was special as some sort of balance was missing. Anyway, I think that Hogan’s Medium can be likeable especially by those having a sweet tooth. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by Cider Kultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Sheppy’s Falstaff

Sheppy’s, a cider maker from Somerset, usually blends typical cider apple varieties with eating apples. But cider I am sampling today is a single varietal cider made only from Falstaff. Falstaff is an eating apple, which was developed by the East Malling Research, UK in 1965 and is claimed to be popular in the UK. This apple cultivar is a hybrid of Golden Delicious, and James Grieve producing crisp, sweet and juicy red apples. Previously I’ve tried their Somerset Traditional Cider and Somerset Oak Matured Vintage 2015, both created for Marks &  and their Dabinett.Company: Sheppy’s
Place of Origin: 
Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apples: 
single varietal, made from Falstaff
Sweetness as per label: 
medium sweet
ABV:
 5.6%
Package type:
500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:
pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. Lightly sparkling. Also, the body is light.

Aroma/Nose: smells of sulphur, lots of it. Other notes include sweet red apples with red apple skins, pears and elderflower. Rather unpleasant due to dominating sulfur notes.

Taste: it begins sweet but less sweet than I would expect from a medium sweet cider.  Tastes little watery with low to medium lemon-like acidity. Notes of red apples with a light smoky taste on the mid-palate. In the aftertaste, I pick up a gentle astringent taste, a note of red apples with a touch of bitterness.

Overall: Briefly, Sheppy’s Falstaff tastes like a slightly watery fizzy apple lemonade. I would say that it tasted just average. Perhaps because Falstaff is an eating apple, not a cider apple, but I have had many ciders made from eating apples, which tasted far much better than the Falstaff. And, this unpleasant note of sulphur appearing once you open the bottle. Like matches. Summarizing, if you want your cider on the light and lemonade side, this cider is for you. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Sheppy’s Falstaff. 2.5/6 

Availability: very broad. In the UK from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Booth’s, online from Beers of Europe, eebria, dike and son, Beer Ritz. In Germany online from ciderhofbanneke, gourvinodrinks of the world, Weinkontor Goldene Krone. Locally in Karstadt, Getränke Hoffman, Galeria Kaufhof or Kadewe.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Getränke Hoffman at 2.99 EUR.