Category: Tasting Notes

24 Apr

Thatchers 2020

I am a sucker for a new bottle on the shelf. Yesterday, while wandering the socially distanced supermarket aisles my eye was caught by a very fine looking brown bottle of Thatchers Vintage “pick of the year” 2020.

The french have long extolled the differences that the weather plays in Apple flavours while large manufacturers like Thatchers have up till now, worked there damndest to maintain uniformity through blending.

Is this a bold step in a new direction? Or just some clever marketing?

To find out the answer I did the only sensible thing I could and bought a few bottles. Just a couple mind; ‘premier’ ciders attract premier price tags, even in the local co-op.

With a listed ABV of 7.4% I was expecting this bottle to deliver on taste. However the first mouthful was a distinct disappointment. Instant reaction was “meh, pleasant but underwhelming”.

Sure, there was apple flavour there, but very few of the bitter notes we look for in Cider. The astringency was missing altogether. The sharpness had gone awol too. In short it felt as if I were drinking an overly rounded ‘don’t upset anyone’ apple juice.

As I went through the glass the ‘cideriness’ of the drink grew to an acceptable level. I certainly didn’t find myself disliking the taste but my temper just got worse as I pondered the wasted opportunity for a big producer to deliver a true ‘vintage’ Cider experience.

Thankfully it wasn’t too fizzy or too sweet. Had it been otherwise I would have been straight down to Myrtle Farm to shout drunken obscenities at them over the hedge (well it is a 7.4% brew).

21 Aug

Tasting Notes: Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider

I saw the bottle in a deli and thought ‘why not?’ Actually the label design isn’t up to very much and it almost put me off. There is something about the font that  felt very 1970s. But that aside,  I  was intrigued by the ‘whisky cask’ aged approach. One of my favourite commercial beers is aged in whisky casks and it is lovely. So in to the basket it went. I only bought one because the deli charges a small fortune.

Removing the blue saltire  crown cap from the bottle, I couldn’t help but smile. These people are clearly shouting ‘Scotland’ loudly and proudly. Good for them. At 6.7% I would only need to have bought and drunk a couple more bottles before I’d be raising the banner at Culloden with them.

With cider, the regionality is definitely part of the story. I really do feel that if a cidermaker doesn’t proudly state where their produce comes from, they are best avoided. Thankfully this clearly does not apply to Thistly Cross.

So on to the important bit…

The initial pour delivered a slightly sparkling cider with very little colour into the glass. On the nose I got gentle apple notes but little else to report.

However,  the first taste revealed a medium sweetness with a rounded smoothness that is rare in ciders. I think the ageing in oak has done something rather special to this brew. It is the epitome of easy drinking cider (think cider for people who don’t like cider), but despite that it does have enough character and complexity to keep a scrumpy lover interested well beyond the first mouthful. I can imagine that having found this at a beer or cider festival I would have returned for a second glass.

It comes from a small batch  firm on a farm in East Lothian where cidermaker Peter Stuart uses ex-Glen Moray whisky casks to age and mature his cider. The bottle proudly announces that it is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs, which is a nice touch

If we are being picky it is just a little too sweet for my ageing palette and doesn’t last as long in the mouth as I would have hoped; I would love to try a drier version.

In summary, I enjoyed it and would happily drink it again, especially on a summer evening with friends.

23 Mar

Daliclass Apple – Tasting notes

When I see a new variety of Apple that I have never tasted before I have to buy it. This morning in Waitrose there was an Apple variety called Daliclass so into the wire basket it went.

The colour was yellow, strongly overlayed with red. I bought four. They were evenly sized and firm to touch (end of March).

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23 Mar

Daliclass Apple – Tasting notes

When I see a new variety of Apple that I have never tasted before I have to buy it. This morning in Waitrose there was an Apple variety called Daliclass so into the wire basket it went.

The colour was yellow, strongly overlayed with red. I bought four. They were evenly sized and firm to touch (end of March).

Read More