White star cider “Do not consume” (0.5/10)

White star cider review (0.5/10) ” Do not try !!!”

The Good

” Cheap way to achieve the recommended alcohol limit.”
” It is not dry and doesn’t claim to be.”

The Bad

” Everything else … It has a horrid smell that doesn’t last, a watery feel, lack of carbonation, character, acidity, dryness, sweetness, fruitiness, maturity, floral notes or anything positive at all except the positives mentioned above.

Packaging

The packaging of a dark can with blue writing gave an impression of an artificial commercial cider. On reading the can, very limited information for the taste experience was provided which generally does not bode well. This is especially the case when combined with lack of a back story. There was no cartoon emblem or character and no real slogan.

It did however have a “big value” sign to make you notice it’s low cost.

All there was was a note stating “produced in Somerset” on behalf of Brookfield drinks.
It announced it was apple cider with sugar and sweetener which suggested a sweet taste experience should be expected. It also announced the word “refreshing” on the can front which suggested it was more moist than dry. No expectation for the source of the apples was announced; A little disappointing.

After a little digging on the website, it mentioned itself as crisp and that it has been made using real apple juice. This hardly provided much detail or a backstory it would perhaps have benefited from. It did not appear to have any real history. As for the date of origin, even Wikipedia didn’t know …

The can capacity was 500ml, and at a solid 7.5% alcohol, this equated to the entire 3.8 units you would require for a days drinking. At £1.00 from my local corner shop (Loco), this was very good value and practical in terms of alcohol content for getting you close to the limit, yet not exceeding it from the single can.
The 7.5% ABV made it the strongest cider I had reviewed to date. Stronger than Jonathan Blair at 7.3% by a whisker and the same for Thatchers Katy at 7.4%. These ciders however were bottled, making this certainly the strongest canned cider I had sampled.

I was therefore expecting a pleasantly sweet cider which had a fruity taste and a bit of a tang to it. I was also expecting no dryness. I would have expected it to possess carbonation and a full bodied feel as well as some uniqueness to it’s flavour although none of this was promised on the can or website.

Smell

On opening, a slight pale mist emerged and on smelling the smell was not pleasant at all. It almost had a fishy, salmon like quality. Thankfully the smell cut off quickly … Just in time to prevent gagging …

Taste

On the first sip the cider did not appear very carbonated. It certainly did not taste or resemble apples in any way. It was not full bodied and highly watery. The flavour seemed analogous to vomit and was very disgusting. No fruit could be detected and there was no acidity probably due to it’s watery nature.
After a couple of sips without any real sweetness as expected, no carbonation, no acidity and a watery feel, I could declare that this cider had nothing pleasant. No dryness was apparent which was okay but didn’t add anything.

Summary

A cider which wasn’t dry as expected. It was cheap and had a horrible smell. There was no carbonation, no acidity, no dryness, no sweetness and you would honestly be better off drinking vomit. This drink tasted highly similar to that.
Except price there was nothing positive. I would not call this a cider. I am not talking about a proper cider … Just a cider at all. Do not buy ever unless you feel the need to try everything !!!

Thatchers old Rascal ” Not a cheap dry but a full bodied guy” (7.5/10)

Thatchers old Rascal cider review (7.5/10)

The Good
” Full bodied feel as advertised without a watery nature.”
” Pleasant fruity flavour and sweetness.”
” Well balanced carbonation.”

The Bad
” Not quite tangy enough to convince of the acidity desired.”
” A little pricey for the product and not 100% practical.”
” Dryness not convincingly apparent and a slightly bitter aftertaste.”

 

Packaging

From the bottle, it was refreshing to see apples other than the ubiquitous Dabinett or Michelin labelled on the rear of the bottle. It was also good to see the title appearing quirky, without direct reference to a single “Golden” apple variety.

What the packaging does well then is intrigue. It captivates your attention by not appearing typical and the designs including an animated fox only enhance this uniqueness. On the panel of Sainsbury’s cider this appeared to draw my eyes in early on, suggesting an eye catching design.

With the thatchers name you would perhaps expect a medium dry with the stereotypical 4-5 percent alcohol as is the case with most non-vintage varieties; Capel road a notable exception.
The old Rascal shyly announces 4.5 percent alcohol by volume which sounds modest. On the rear of the dark bottle with orange and white text it informs of 500ml capacity equating to 2.3 units per bottle. This makes the cider fairly practical in terms of necessitating 2 bottles to achieve close to the limit. At £1.90 per bottle however this means £3.80 to achieve which makes this cider quite pricey even in comparison to highly enjoyable varieties such as the African ” Savannah cider”.

The expectation then was for a quirky drink which is highly enjoyable. It announced medium dryness as well as full bodied flavour suggesting a lack of watery ness and reasonable tannin content. On reading the Tremlett Apple labelled appears to have a reasonable level of tannins for dryness. Dabinett apples were also present to enhance this along with red streak which I had not previously heard of.

Allegedly according to thatchers this red-streak Apple provides a pepperiness so I was eagerly anticipating that …
Whilst it specified a distinctive flavour and that it mentioned it’s provenance as a family cider maker it did not announce of any expectation for sweetness; This can be lacking in many Somerset ciders along with carbonation.

I was hoping the “beware of the rascal” on the front was reassuring me that all of these attributes in addition to those announced would be present.

For tasting then, I was expecting a medium dryness and a certain uniqueness from the distinctive apple combination. Also I was looking for a non-watery cider. One that lives up to its quirky packaging and generous price tag.
I was hoping for a cider which also had fruitiness, sweetness and light carbonation. If all of these were present it would score highly …. Let’s see.

Smell

On opening, only a briefly lasting, weak fizzing sound was present. This was accompanied with a slightly yeasty, yet smooth smell emerging from a quickly fading small,white head perched upon the liquid. The smell was short lasting on the nose yet could be detected some time after opening. Expected then would be the yeasty nature of the sweet and carbonated stowford press from Hereford. This was good to see.

Taste

On tasting, the cider did not suffer from a watery feel and was certainly full bodied as advertised. The drink had modest carbonation which was rather pleasant. The cider was pleasantly sweet, yet not artificial and had a very smooth taste sensation. After a few sips you can certainly sense the feel of fresh fruit which was subtle aswell as it’s acidity level.

To my taste, this was a highly well-balanced pleasant drink with sweetness, sharpness and modest carbonation. The aftertaste was certainly not dry however like advertised and the acidity was not quite prominent enough for my palette. Any aftertaste I detected left a subtle bitterness which was not overly pleasant. The taste of the main body of the drinking experience though was very satisfying.

Summary
A pleasantly fruity cider with a sufficient level of carbonation. The full bodied nature is present without a lack of substance which can often create a watery impression. The dryness is inadequate and the aftertaste is not perfect. The level of dryness is not quite as advertised.

Capel road cider ( blend No. 5) – 8.5/10

Capel road cider can (blend No 5) review ( 8.5/10)

The Good

” Cheap as dirt and as mature as a dining experience.”
” Very appealing tang … Probably the best acidity and body I have tasted. ”
” Modest carbonation and dryness which is great.”
” Not a gassy drink and practical since 2 cans puts you within recommended limits.”

The Bad

” The branding suggests a dry cider which is complex.”
” It is packaged in a pathetic silver can.”
” Not enough fruitiness, sweetness, or quite enough carbonation for my taste”.

Packaging

At a glance, the silver steel can resembles a can of Pepsi. Nothing which shouts good quality. With the 50p price tag, it leaves you expecting a cheap and watery drink with perhaps a little added sugar.

It does not tempt you to purchase except merely out of curiosity. I was inquisitive and despite low expectations went for the purchase after reading the name “Westons” on the can.

Those of you who are familiar with my recent reviews will know that many of them are focused on varieties of cider such as westons’ which is produced in Ledbury in Herefordshire. The hand writing was fancy and not what you would expect from a commercially “cheap” product.

The slogan is “refreshingly complex” again temping the ” really !!” eye roll.

In terms of the product details then Number 5 appears from the website to be one of 2 blends and the weaker of the 2. The number, on reading, refers to the generation from which the cider was produced. The other named Number 3 appears to be the more ostentatious cousin with a vibrant, yellow outer shell to the can.

Dry, complex and tangy are boasted as attributes of number 5 all from just 5 percent alcohol. It also claims to be the first UK canned craft cider. With it’s 330ml capacity and just 1.7 units per can you can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about.

On the can it mentions how it has been matured for 18 months in oak and stainless steel. This is good as research suggests this adds antioxidant chemicals called poly phenolics such as methyl-guaiacol which help protect again free radical damage. This is probably not the reason why this is labelled however. It also purportedly has been produced using the best yeast and bittersweet apple juice. It seems simply confusing to have a clearly mature cider packaged in a can and offered very cheaply. Kind of like putting a Tesco finest cookie in a value range packet.

That said it needs some credit for helping you to the recommended limit range from just 2, 50p cans making it amazingly practical. I would recommend chilling then pouring into a glass though, before drinking.

Expectations then were lacking. I didn’t know how to feel about it. It did one key thing though which many bottled ciders previously have not. It defied convention …

Smell

On opening, an abrupt snap was apparent before froth began to enthusiastically emerge across the cans’ surface.
On smelling, a steady and heavily fruity, warming scent met my nose. It was highly appley in a very natural way which made a refreshing change from many of the acid smelling varieties without an impression of fruit. It lead me to anticipate an almost Rekorderlig-like, sweet and carbonated Apple-ade drinking experience.

Taste

On the first sip the main thing which was noticeable was a tangy acidic impression. This was highly appealing as it lingered on my tongue remaining into the aftertaste. On swirling, the carbonation was not highly apparent and was therefore perhaps too subtle .
The cider after a few sips remained consistent and true and the taste experience did not seem to adapt or develop from first impressions.

Like the label suggested it was full bodied and the subtle level of carbonation seemed adequate due to the prominence of the tang. Unlike some Westons’ ciders, namely Jonathan Blair vintage 2015 it did not have any real dryness to the aftertaste.

I wouldn’t describe it as an especially moist cider although it certainly wasn’t “dry” as advertised. At best it could potentially get away with calling itself a medium dry yet even this is a bold claim in comparison to many others I have tried. It also was not as sweet as I would like.

Summary

Overall this was a highly pleasant cider to drink. The dryness was perfect for my palette. The smell was pleasant and fruity. The cider was very tangy and not gassy. The aftertaste was clear and smooth and the drink was not watery. It wasn’t complex or dry however and didn’t have the sweetness it should. For the price it was great value and deserves to shout more than with a cheap looking, 330ml can.

In summary, a very nice drink which whilst understated did itself no favours due to poor branding. Great price …

 

 

Lymedale suites (Room 47)- 7/10 ” Kitchenette with sofa but incessant road noise”.

Lymedale suites hotel review (Room 47) – (7/10)

Good
” Kitchenette as part of the room”.
” Bar downstairs easy to access and staff aiming to please”.
” Great standard of cleanliness in and outside your room”.

Bad
” Not a great view out of the window”.
” Incessant road noise and non- central location”.
” Lack of a hairdryer or shampoo”.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere from reception was very sweet smelling and immaculate. Checkin was calm and professional with a pleasant and welcoming member of staff. The bar seemed a good place to spend time since even at 3pm people were ordering drinks in there, showing how it gets used even at times not typically busy.
The location was a little far from the centre of town which was a little disappointing meaning quite a substantial trek from the train station, although being situated on a busy road it was strategically well situated for car drivers.

The atmosphere seemed a little mixed since certain areas of accommodation appeared basic from the outside yet my room was luxurious on the inside. The menu prices varied hugely between the most and least expensive and how they were calculated seemed a little atypical.

Chilling in your room

The room was clean with sufficient space and a TV. This was a little small however, but compensated for by a rather comfy looking leather sofa.
Only a few hangers were present between 2 guests. While the idea of a split wardrobe did appear practical for room sharing having all the hangers on one side did draw attention to the overall lack of hangers.

The backrest of the bed had 2 thin pillows which was a supportive combination. The addition of a cushion was pleasant if slightly surplus to my personal requirements.
The mattress seemed comfortable although only limited plug sockets were available close to the beds meaning extension leads may be useful for gizmo freaks.

While watching TV or concentrating, the relentless purr of cars cruising past created considerable roadnoise. This made sleeping challenging.

 

Tea Provisions

With the presence of a small kitchenette, facilities for cooking over a hob were definitely sufficient. The kettle appeared larger than most and the mugs were generously sized. A fridge and microwave were also present and working which I quickly put to the test. The room had 2 stalls providing extra seating.

There were several UHT milk pots which looked great for an avid tea drinker like myself although only 2 teabags were provided which was a little disappointing. There also was only one type of tea available, no sweetener or brown sugar provisions or many little extras such as tea biscuits. It would also have been nice to have a few more teabags to make use of the ample milk and 6 white sugar sachets.

 

Community areas

The bar was pleasant to sit in, if a little quiet, and the staff seemed to aim to please at every turn which was great.
Outside seating was available beside the car park although any outside space was taken over by road noise due to location. A pity, but couldn’t be helped.

 

Washing and cleaning

In the bathroom area there was a small head mirror yet a full body mirror on the bedroom. This was slender yet sufficient. Hand wash was provided yet it was a shame that no shampoo was there to socialise with it.

There also did not seem to be a hairdryer provided as was the case in places such as holiday express in Ipswich and the New county hotel in Gloucester.

Price

With a price range of around 50-80 pounds the rooms in this hotel with kitchenette seemed a good service and to provide good value. It was a cut above most basic rooms with a few pleasant additions such as sofas and comfortable bedding. Overall I feel the value at this price was fair since although not really cheap for the location, noise level or size it did possess the luxuries expected to elevate the experience from a travellodge or other budget hotel.

Customer service

On entry, staff were professional quick and polite and even showed me to my room with a nice chat which is a first for me in any of the places I have previously stayed. I found this very pleasant.

Overall
A good quality room with plenty of extras. Location and a few little details taint the quality impression from inside the room however so good yet not great.

Churchwards original cider ” Medium dry with a nice smell” – (6/10)

Churchwards original cider review ” A medium dry with a nice smell but nothing else”. (6/10)

The Good
” Pleasant level of dryness”.
” Some eye catching packaging and a smooth smell”.

The Bad
” Lack of character with a watery taste”.
” No real brand identity”.
” Does not describe any of the positives in the packaging”.

Packaging

Upon browsing the Isles at my local b and m, I glanced across to the cider section only to find a brand new bottle which I had not previously sampled. It caught my eye from a distance due to it’s bright yellow label in contrast to the red of the apples just above the title “Churchwards” . On reviewing many subtle ciders recently, it made a refreshing change to see a cider not afraid to shout colour.

The fonts appeared highly mixed with the word ” original” in an informal font yet that of the brand title in capitals.
The percentage was printed on the forefront of the packaging as just a mere 4.5% which was similar to many other canned varieties yet much weaker than some of the vintage bottles such as thatchers Katy and the westons Jonathan Blair vintage both in the 7 percents.

The capacity was unusual yet appealing since it was exactly 568ml which equated to exactly a pint. The vast majority of bottles appear to be smaller than this at around the 500ml mark.

The smooth flavour is announced on the bottle blurb with not much else given away as to keep the mystery. It also specifies how sugars and sweeteners have been added, which whilst not sounding overly natural did reassure me that the taste experience should be pleasant and not lacking in sweetness.

Each bottle contained 2.6 units which meant that after 2 this would put you significantly over recommended limits with 5.2 units. At £1.70 for 2 bottles this was cheaper than other varieties such as thatchers Katy and a similar price to Jonathan Blair vintage with the added bonus of 2 bottles rather than 1 for this price. It was weaker though so 2 bottles seem required for optimal enjoyment.

The cider on further reading, specifies itself as being produced at a place called Aston manor in Birmingham. Not to be confused though with the place in which the orchards are situated since this was specified as either Worcestershire or Herefordshire on the website.

This producer was apparently the largest independently owned cider producing company in the UK and established since 1983. It also produces king stone press but is somewhat surprising that the drink doesn’t announce where the orchards are situated since the former specifies this as orchards local to Stourport-on-Severn which makes it sound producer of it’s sourcing.

Smell

Before and during opening there was a significant white and frothy head perched upon the golden brown fluid. Upon opening, a confident yet abrupt fizz was apparent, hinting of carbonation. A smooth and fruity scent met my nostrils at the first sniff which as usual faded into the abyss after a few subsequent attempts at aroma detection.

Taste

On the first sip the flavour was rather subtle. The cider was not thick in my mouth and didn’t leave a uniquely characteristic or strong flavour. It almost had the feel of a medium dry with a slight bitterness to the apples. The flavour was highly subtle and did not seem to provide any real acidity. The sweetness expected was also a bit of a letdown with a slightly longing feel left in your mouth for the satisfaction from added sweeteners and sugar as promised.

It also did not get any better on the carbonation front, since the promising head did not translate into fizziness. Later on, a slight flicker of acidity could be detected from the aftertaste. This was almost totally overwhelmed and drowned out by the significant dryness of the cider however. This dryness was medium which would be expected from a Herefordshire cider with apples such as Dabinett or Michelin. This was not specified however nor was the expectation for a medium dry.

The quirky nature of the packaging therefore seemed to create a confused impression. Not one of any real excitement of provenance by not boasting about the apples used nor matching a bold flavour with it’s bold colours. If anything, the flavour was very subtle and it’s only real strength appeared to be it’s medium dryness which would be a good attribute if this was what the brand represented.

Whilst some smoothness and fruit could be detected from the smell, the smooth characteristic as the sole one advertised isn’t obviously apparent so isn’t really a strength at all.

Summary

A medium dry cider with a confused identity not claiming it’s Apple varieties nor where they were grown. Only specifying Birmingham for the site of production which may have influenced the branding colours. Since the product in essence is a medium dry perhaps due to the use of Dabinett apples from Worcester or Herefordshire orchards. In my opinion, this should shine through in the branding. Carbonation is lacking along with acidity, tang from this acidity and sweetness despite added sweeteners. The cider is fairly watery by texture and flavour and only has the medium dryness from the apples to hide behind aswell as a subtly pleasant smooth aroma. Overall then certainly a let down in drinking experience. You can see why it is cheap.

 

 

New county hotel Gloucester (7.5/10) – “Central and homely lacking luxury slightly”

New county hotel review ( Room 17) ” Well located, homely hotel lacking a few mod cons and luxury” (7.5/10)

The good
” great value, friendly staff”
” good provisions including hairdryer and mirror”
” central location and clean room service”
” warm and homely atmosphere and decor”

The bad
” TV was a little small and lack of luxury tea provisions left things slightly basic”
” There did not seem to be many facilities e.g gym or pool”
” limited number of hangers between guests”
” fans instead of air con for very hot days”
” no lock on bathroom door”

Atmosphere
The atmosphere was highly pleasant and peaceful with modern touches yet a traditional cosy feel. Staff on checkin were so bubbly and enthusiastic it made my stay good from the word go.

Chilling in your room
The room was of good size with 2 singles. Multiple fans were provided which were highly welcome due to the warm weather conditions. The TV was quite small for the size of the room with limited screen size which should ideally be larger. The TV service however was consistent which was certainly a strong positive. This was better than the roundhouse in Bournemouth which was intermittent for example. The tea facilities were clearly set out with a choice of sugars including both brown and white types. No sweeteners were provided or choice of teas which was a shame. No tea biscuits or little extras were supplied. A reasonable number of 4 sachets of pg tips and plenty of milk was provided which was sufficient for me to make plenty of tea.

For 2 guests 5 clothing hangers appeared a limited number yet was sufficient for my personal clothing but a little less than some other places I have stayed in between 2 guests. The roundhouse of Bournemouth provided double this for example.

Tea provisions
A Large high capacity kettle was provided unlike in Ipswich with 1.5 litre capacity which was good. The mugs however were disappointingly small which was a real shame and countered this strength.

Community areas

The Bar beside reception looked bustling with people suggesting a sociable and enjoyable setting. On entry it appeared very clean and pleasant so a strong positive.
The hotel did not have a swimming pool, gym or sauna and did not have leaflets or posters as was the case in some places for replacement items on offer or breakfast deals. This did give a clean impression in the rooms however.

Washing and cleaning

A Dual nozzle was present in the en suite bathroom shower with an effectively working extractor fan to prevent dampness . On leaving the shower however it did become apparent that water did flow out between the tiles despite shielding with the curtain. This is an area for development since perhaps a new curtain or floor service may have improved this.
A Hairdryer was provided which was a nice addition beside a reasonably sized mirror which was highly useful. Some all in one shower gel and shampoo was provided which was useful. Clean towels were provided on the bed as required.

Price
With prices ranging from around 30 pounds and up this seems reasonable for what was provided and a mid to low range price for the star rating. This does suggest that for a stay the hotel is great value. Especially when the inner city location is considered.

Customer service
Highly pleasant lady on reception. Bubbly and characterful providing clear instructions and a quick and slick checkin. She seemed very approachable to voice concerns on checkin. Room service was carried out effectively albeit and slightly irregular times. Perhaps this was due to the unconventional layout however so could be excused.

Overall
A highly pleasant hotel which although lacking a few little extras and facilities was friendly warm and welcoming. It had the facilities, cleanliness and room service necessary for a relaxing stay which did not feel dated. The hotel was a reasonable price.

Scrumpy jack cider review (8/10) ” Tangy and fruity but limited fizz and practicality”

Packaging

Scrumpy jack appears in a picturesquely decorated can with splashes of colour such as yellow, white and green depicting a countryside scene with a large apple tree. The apple tree has a small bucket full of harvested apples. The cider label specifies Symonds as the producer. This cider originated in Herefordshire in the early 1970’s.

Since then whilst it had been taken over it never left the county.
Dabinett apples are used which is a familiar medium dry as seen with stowford and Kingstone press ciders yet also a slightly more bitter Apple known as chisel jersey is used. Both apples used are in the bittersweet category rather than purely sweet increasing tannin content. This supposedly increases the complexity of flavour and the feel of the cider in the mouth.

The cider was bought from Tesco for 3.75 for 4 cans, with a capacity of 440ml at 6 % alcohol by volume. Every can contains 2.6 units. This has limited practicality since 2 cans puts you considerably over the daily recommended consumption level for alcohol.

 

Smell

On opening the cider provides a distinct yeasty aroma which is more quirky than that of Stowford press. A key difference is the slightly unpleasant sulphury hint, resembling old eggs. This is only subtle however, so not too unpleasant.

Taste

The taste has a pleasant feel in the mouth with a syrupy consistency. The acidity level provides a really enjoyable tang which leaves an impression of fruit. The sweetness is not that apparent but the sharpness of the tang provides a very unique and highly pleasant tasting experience which does not seem to require this. The carbonation seems highly limited and virtually non existent yet the cider feels moist and does not claim a medium dryness like most other Herefordshire ciders. Therefore it remains true to it’s brand identity and provides a highly enjoyable taste experience.

 

Summary

A highly pleasant tangy and fruity cider which provides a characteristic and sharp taste experience. Whilst it carves out a distinct identity, it does not counter it’s brand identity and provides a moist feel with a limited carbonation. Perhaps therefore a little fizz and practicality away from a very good cider. The lack of sweetness can be forgiven due to it’s sharp identity.

Blackthorn gold cider (7/10) ” some nice acidity”

Blackthorn gold cider review (7/10) ” not a medium dry but some pleasantly powered acidity”

The good
“Very pleasant and not overpowering acidity”
” Good value and practical”

The bad
” Lack of attributes including dryness, carbonation and sweetness”
” Other than acid no real indication of fruit”

Packaging

The packaging is a split colour bottle with a combination of gold on it’s upper extremity with black on it’s base. Perched upon the T of the blackthorn label is the top of a tree. This is clearly intended to be the hardy blackthorn tree used to produce the apples for this cider. These supposedly increase in sweetness through enduring harsher winters or so the website suggests. Perhaps therefore for better cans of blackthorn, you may have a reason to respect the rain and snow throughout the dicier weather of the winter months.

The cans are often sold as four packs from retailers, with the cheapest I could find from Asda at £3.15. This is still 15p dearer than prices began at the start of the year in the coop which is a shame. At this price however it still appears to be great value.
Every 440ml can contains 2.1 units at 4.7% by volume of alcohol. This makes the cider certainly fairly dilute, with many competitors such as Thatchers oak-aged vintage sitting at a punchy 7.4%.

It is however marginally more concentrated than Stowford press at 4.5 % but since this has larger cans it still works out at 2.3 units. This suggests lower practicality for a couple of cans in the evening since 4.6 units is a little over the recommended limit.
Clearly then in this case thought has gone into production size since blackthorn barely puts you over recommended limits for regular consumption of 2 cans. Price wise this equates to £1.58 which is cheaper than Orchard for 2 at £1.70 and others such as Cornish rattler at £2.00 per bottle.

For this price and practicality therefore blackthorn gold seems like a great drink. Whilst it’s origin is boasted on the forefront of the can as Somerset, the story behind the location and apples used is not labelled on each can. Whilst this is a little disappointing the eye-catching packaging encourages you to look it up and read more.

It turns out this Somerset cider is produced in a cider mill in Shepton mallet and has been since 1972. The website with the can suggest a sweet taste experience can be expected which is distinctive and crisp.

Interestingly like the Cornish rattler ” the panda”, this cider does not specify the expected dryness although does indicate the use of English cider apples. Typical varieties used widely in the West Country such as Dabinett and Michelin are bittersweet medium dry types so this perhaps is a good place to start the dryness expectations. On further inspection, the website does specify this confirming my suspicions. This should be more clearly indicated however. Also confirmed is the place of origin but only on the 500ml cans which seems a little inconsistent.

Smell

On opening a quick fizz occurs before a snap of the cap. Following this, confident bubbles rise upwards for a number of seconds only gradually fading to silence to indicate spritely carbonation. Upon smelling, a very smooth smell emerges without a yeasty presence. A moderate acidity level can be detected only on the first couple of sniffs however. After this the smell was no longer apparent.

Taste

The taste emerges with a couple of sips as a nicely acidic cider possessing a subtle, yet pleasant tang. This tangy note persists pleasantly on the aftertaste and steadily builds with time. The acidity does not overpower however, since it is balanced with a reasonable level of watery feel. The sharpness does not seem balanced with any real sweetness and even on swirling only limited carbonation is apparent.
For a medium-dry no dryness is present after a sip, with the cider possessing a slightly moist feel. This is rather pleasant to my taste but is not what the brand leaves you expecting. One of the key strengths of this cider is that it’s surprisingly consistent and smooth throughout each and every sip making it rather drinkable.

Summary

A cider which provides enough tangy acidity to give a very pleasant taste sensation. Balance with sweetness was lacking due to it’s absence. No dryness was apparent like the brand suggested and the carbonation did not shine through. No real impression of fruit could be gathered through tasting. Overall then, an eye-catching brand which did not live up to it’s image. A cider taste sensation relying on acidity but lacking the panache to provide sweetness, carbonation, fruitiness or any real dryness to balance.

Cornish Rattler cider (6.5/10) ” More of a panda really”.

Cornish rattler cider review (6.5/10)

The good

“Good and interesting packaging with a pleasant smell”
” Fruity taste, carbonation and dryness apparent with huge subtlety”

The bad

“Too subtle to establish any real identity and too watery to truly enjoy”
” no potent flavour, sweetness, carbonation or acidity”
” does not live up to its name perhaps should be called Cornish panda”

 

Packaging

On the packaging the quirky bottle immediately caught my attention. Not only featuring a rattlesnake wearing sunglasses but also a reasonable head seated on a cloudy translucent fluid; All encased with a green bottle. Quirky and variable fonts are employed throughout with a capital letter yellow “Rattler original” set as the focal point. The Cornish label really surprised me in combination with the presence of the rattlesnake itself.

With my biology background I am quite familiar with certain species and with a bit of reading, my suspicions that rattlesnakes are found in North America but not the UK were confirmed ( Putman and Clark 2015). It seems interesting then to hear about the story of why such a magnificent beast would find it’s way onto a cider from the English south west.

On bottle rotation you get the link …

The Cornish rattler is apparently the type of Apple used and the snake is used to show that the cider has some bite to it. The properties of this bottles’ flavour are classified as crisp and fresh and the recommendation is to serve chilled. Bite refers to acidity in drinks suggesting acidity and apple flavours should both be apparent on sampling.

Joe and Sam Healey have been used for the signature encouraging further investigation due to a fancy writing style.

So there we have it, 3 units of 6% cider from Cornwall placing it on par with the likes of merrydown for strength and keeping things practical through sitting at the lower end of the recommended (do not regularly exceed) limit. This can be achieved with just one 500 ml bottle which I managed to find for £2 from Asda. This keeps things affordable and slightly cheaper than Savannah while being a little more dear than Orchard or certain canned varieties.

Smell

On opening a prolonged fizz is apparent. The smell is sweet and fruity and the head ducks a little to modest carbonation. After a short while limited smell is apparent, fading to just very slight acidity.

Taste

On the first sip the taste experience is certainly subtle. There is no real hit of apple or sweetness as perhaps would be expected. The aftertaste is hardly noticeable yet provides a slightly warming sensation like thatchers vintage. After a few more sips subtle carbonation can be detected with a very subtle tang. There is a lack of identity early on from the bottle perhaps due to the level of watered down flavour. It does lack a certain punch which is not made up for with a strong aftertaste.

The taste of apples is eventually apparent yet not clearly noticeable and still does not really produce anything to indicate anything impressive or good quality. It is reassuring though. The acidity does very slowly build up to something remotely pleasant yet does take a significant amount of sips and time to accumulate which is clearly disappointing. For a drink boasting bite, the acidity is very subtle. The rattlesnake with a bite like that would be killed by merrydown’s’ violin playing fox with far greater acidity and flavour present in the former.

Without specification on the bottle of dryness it was interesting to see the level of dryness from this drink. It left my palette with nothing. Almost like Thatchers haze which is another cloudy cider variety which also left my palette in that way. Perhaps it does not need classification as to dryness since it is not moist or dry really. This is not particularly exciting. It resembles nothing and detracts from a drinking experience with flare …

Summary

A cider with a slowly accumulating subtle acidity and carbonation which lacks flavour and any real dryness or identity. The packaging is definitely the highlight of the drinking experience, with only the occasional burst of warmth on the aftertaste for enjoyment. The Cornish rattler Apple therefore from this variety does not seem to provide the drinking experience the quirky bottle and rattlesnake suggest. Clearly then, a bit of a letdown.

Sources

http://www.bio.sdsu.edu/pub/clark/Site/Publications_files/rattlesnake_habitat_manipulation.pdf

Stowford press cans ” Subtle tang and acidity with a yeasty scent” (7.5/10)

Stowford press cider review (7.5/10)

The good

“Pleasant , yet subtle tang and acidity level with a smooth yeasty scent”
” Subtle, yet lingering fruit aftertaste”
” Sweetness was adequate, yet not overwhelming”
” Pleasant, fruity and sweet flavour ”
” Slightly watery to balance the sweetness and acidity”

The bad

” Not as dry as described, yet pleasant for my palette”
” Puts you over recommended limits after 2 cans”
” No real carbonation to enhance tang”

Packaging

Like many other West Country ciders Stowford press is produced in Herefordshire. It is produced using ripe apples from shady orchards in the Westons farm of Much Marcle. As it has been since 1878, using apples such as Michelin and Dabinett. This suggests some similarity to Kingstone press which is also made using these varieties. In addition to this, a number of other apples are used from the orchards perhaps contributing to key differences between Stowford press amongst other ciders.

The cider itself is often sold in cans of 500ml with a strength of 4.5% alcohol by volume. This equates to 2.3 units per can. This is fairly practical since half a four pack would be sufficient per drinking evening to achieve close to the limit. This is still slightly over however, meaning a slight reduction in capacity would potentially be useful for health reasons.

Smell

Upon a sharp uneventful lid snap hardly any fizz was evident. At first scent a smooth and heavily yeasty aroma was apparent. This was not stale and was very smooth; Almost like a freshly baked loaf of bread giving the cider body. After a few subsequent sniffs you get a slight acidity rather than the initial yeast. A couple of minutes later this scent was no longer apparent whatsoever.

Taste

On first sip, a pleasant if slightly weak tang was apparent, hinting of mild acidity. A good level of sweetness was present as a fruity flavour which did not leave an artificial impression. The finish was not dry and it didn’t leave a warmth as with some of the stronger alcohol varieties such as Henney’s; This is also from Herefordshire. The sweetness level is sufficient for my palette and it is nice how the dryness is highly limited. Certainly though, this appears as a moist cider rather than a medium dry due to the absence of dryness. This therefore due to my taste is positive yet goes against what the label suggests which is not ideal.

The level of carbonation is not great. Ideally it could do with carbonation to enhance the tang although this appears almost absent which is a point against Stowford.
The aftertaste leaves still a subtle, yet lingering fruity afternote which is actually highly pleasant encouraging you to sip again. This is the general effect of drier varieties but for a more satisfying and pleasant reason which is a definite attribute.

Whilst in general more watery ciders appear a little under-flavoured, the water impression is clever here since it balances the sweetness and acidity perfectly to prevent an overwhelming or overpowering flavour sensation.

 

Summary

Overall a pleasantly smooth, yeasty smelling beverage which appeases my sweet tooth and provides pleasant yet subtle acidity which lasts on the tongue as a nice fruity tang. It does not however provide the dryness the label suggests as a medium dry should or does it provide any real carbonation. This is a little disappointing. The practicality and value of the drink is good yet could be tweaked to keep you within recommended limits . 2 cans worth would be a nice level of fluid to consume of an evening in my opinion, without being over the limit. This is not presently the case.