Henney’s Herefordshire Vintage still cider 2015 ( 7/10)

” Great medium-dry warming aftertaste with a fruity and acidy smell”
” No sweetness, carbonation, fruity or acidy taste”
” The taste was dominated by water which was a shame”
” A smooth drinking cider with no drama … A little dull”

Packaging

At 6.5% volume the cider is strong compared to many varieties I have tasted, yet must only be considered a strong medium when compared with Jonathan Blair and Thatchers 2016 vintage which overshadow this with strengths within the 7-8 % range.

At first glance the black and white bottle provides a clear theme without any distracting colours. This suggests a cider which does what it says and provides a good drinking experience. There was only 1 bottle left in the Sainsburys I visited for purchase so I took that as a positive sign for consumer demand and therefore the drinking and sampling experience to be expected.

Immediately from the label then I was expecting a considerable alcohol effect from the bottle and a distinct lack of carbonation due to the word ” still” on the label. I was therefore reverse judging this criteria. This meant, for a better score, the less carbonation the better rather than my usual criteria of moderately bubbly being ideal for my own taste preferences.

The Herefordshire location suggested to me a bittersweet cider due to the nature of the apples locally grown and used there. The rear of the label hinted of good quality ingredients and simplicity in the production process. This apparently included selecting, milling, pressing and fermenting the locally grown cider apples. The label detailed the apple sourcing which confirmed my suspicions of a bittersweet medium dry cider.

The cider was then purported to be stored over winter which apparently should give it a rich flavour. As with other vintage varieties, depth of flavour will certainly be considered. We shall see if simple truly means better after we delve into the drink.

The expectations for taste and drinking experience were limited which suggested a less boastful and more intriguing beverage than many others from the outset.

Smell

Upon opening, zero fizz was present as expected from the label which suggested zero carbonation. This immediately created a positive impression. The smell on first inhalation was one of smooth, sweet and fruity acidity. It left me expecting a strong fruity flavour with a good level of malic acid.

Taste

The taste was not spiced up with any fizziness on the tongue and the acidity and strength from the smell appeared quite absent from the taste. After another sip, there was a definite impression of subtle dryness which should be expected from a medium dry. Since this could be detected early it was clearly a strength. After a few more sips the tannins continued to come through with dryness accompanied with a subtle bitter aftertaste. This aftertaste towards the end of the bottle gave a spirit-like acetone warmth which was thoroughly enjoyable.

The overall impression however was quite underwhelming. The exciting tang from the acidity on the scent was not present actually in the taste of the drink and without carbonation the drink appeared a little bare. The taste was nowhere near as interesting as the scent and suffered from a watery feel. That said it did stillness well but had no sweetness at all for enjoyment or balance !

Summary

Overall certainly a medium dry non carbonated cider which left me with a great and quickly emerging/developing aftertaste and medium dry feel like it should. The watery nature of the drink without much taste to match the appeal of the smell, just gave a lack of enjoyment overall. The sweetness hasn’t been mentioned much so far because no sweetness could be detected by my palette.

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