Cornish Orchard’s Trilogy

It’s been another hot day, I’m sweating like a… well, I’ll let you choose. That box of Cornish Orchards, I got for my birthday, will be a welcome guest.

Cornish Orchards Box

Cornish Orchards boxed set. Game of Thrones got nowt on this!

I stick them in the fridge. However, when it comes time to try the first, it’s still a bit warm. That’s not such a problem for cider, as it doesn’t taste too bad when warm, unlike lager – uuurgh! No wonder they try to make it extra cold, so it freezes your tastebuds.

Now is a good chance to try out those ice rocks, that I was also given for my birthday. These Sagaform rocks seem a bright idea to chill your drink, without the ice watering it down. Just freeze the rocks and shove them in. Why didn’t I think of that?

Episode I: Vintage
Cornish Orchards VintageI put half the rock cubes in a half-filled pint, but after a while it’s still not that cool. I put the rest of the cubes and the cider in, but it’s still not as cold as ice. Probably a bit colder than without, and getting colder, but maybe all the cold is at the bottom of the glass. Like in the sea, when you dive down a bit on a hot day and suddenly get really cold, and have a weird rush. This only works in hot countries, don’t try it in the North Sea. I think these rocks just work for drinks ‘on the rocks’. I’ll get them out for my gin and lemon – they’re more of a breakfast-time utensil.

Anyway, on with the sensing.

Just a moment – while I’m looking up a link to their website, I want to make a point. Normally alcohol websites ask you to put in your birthday, as this would obviously fool any under 18 year old, into being refused entry to the website, repeatedly, as they won’t realise that if they add a few years to their entry, they’ll get in. But Cornish Orchards, only ask me to tick a fucking button to say I’m over 18. What is the point of this, but to waste mine and several million other under-18s’ time? 

Vintage is an almost clear cider, lightly sparkling, but that might be the reaction of the rock cubes! There’s a bit of leather and washing up liquid in there, and a tart taste, like a fine, lime marmalade. This 7.2% cider from Duloe, Liskeard, Cornwall, apparently goes well with a platter of cheese. Well, it will just have to make do with a tin of Moomin biscuits from Finnish duty free. Very acidic, but a pleasant drink.

Episode II: Farmhouse.

Cornish Orchards FarmhouseThis 5% cider smells more cold and musty, like a farmhouse. It has more of a burn at the back of the mouth, a more oaked cider. It tastes stronger than the last one, though it apparently isn’t. Very drinkable, though. I read that this one goes well with a Cornish pastie, or a ploughman’s platter. Well, as long as that ploughman’s platter only includes Moomin biscuits, I’m well on track.

It’s a broader, less sharp taste, than the vintage. A pretty good for one. A bit of old cardboard in there. It’s funny what you can smell when you put your mind to it. Cornish Orchards say they use 100% pressed apple juice. It makes you wonder why people drink the keg ciders, but then you sometimes risk getting off your nut on the real stuff.

Episode III: Heritage
Cornish Orchards HeritageThe final espisode of the trilogy uses windfall apples, like Cornish Kingston and Tommy Knight. Though they sound like low-budget UK porn stars, they are respectable varieties of cider apple. 
This one is darker, and had the caramel taste of the traditional medium sweet, but with a certain dryness. Heritage has a rich taste. This is what I want my own cider to taste like. My own cider is a work in progress, and probably won’t taste anywhere as good as this.

Vintage: 3.5/5
Heritage: 4/5
Farmhouse: 4.5/5


Burrow Hill Farmhouse, Walthamstow Garden Party

Burrow Hill CiderI’m on my way to Walthamstow. There’s a festival on in Lloyd Park, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are playing. It’s a hot day, and I’m surprised by how many people are going to this place. I’m expecting a few kebab stalls, and a load of drunk people lying in a field, so I pack a couple of Strongbow to get me through. At the gate, I realise this is more of a babyfest, than a wino riot.

I’m checked at the gates, but security miss my cider cans, hidden under my respectable-looking camera case, and I’m let in feeling slightly criminal. There’s young couples galore, a myriad baby buggies – all the trendy ones, yummy mummies, faddy daddies, even someone wearing a ‘walthamstow dad’ t-shirt, just in case we weren’t clear of his role, pushing little Oscar along in his Bugaboo. Not a gun or spliff in sight – this place really has become the cool place to hang out. (I’ve since found that ‘walthamstow dad‘ t-shirts are sold in support of the Whipps Cross Hospital maternity ward. If you’re a dad in Walthamstow, go buy one!)

I see my crew in the shade of a tree, and make my way through a herd of buggies, treading carefully so as not to step on any babies, like one of those nature documentaries where David Attenburgh steps gingerly amongst fields of seabirds, trying to avoid having albatross bile ejected onto his trouser leg, or his plonker pecked by a penguin.

Music from the main stage wafts over to us in the breeze and a couple of alcoholics are having a domestic. The Strongbow is finished, so I decide to take a look around. I’m queueing for a pint in the beer tent when I spot a 2-pint bottle of scrumpy being walked around. I leave the crowded beer tent to seek out the source of the scrumpy, and find The Somerset Ploughman stand.

They offer Burrow Hill Farmhouse cider by the litre, and it’s also cheaper if you have your own container! My friends roll their eyes as I return to the fold with my 2 litre milk bottle full of piss-coloured fluid. It has a sharp, tangy taste, slightly bitter, oaky and quite dry. I’m glad to have found a proper cider. Burrow Hill is another cider farm that welcomes visitors – one for the list on my West Country tour. They’ve been in business for 150 years, apparently spearheading the cider brandy revival, and offer a wide range of cider brandies. That sounds like something I must try. I also discover that October 16th is ‘Apple Day’. Or maybe it’s the 21st, I’ll have to wait and see, how exciting.

As the music starts hotting up, I’m wondering if I will wake up under this tree in the morning, however, the offspring begin to tire and the bugaboo herds begin to leave, I sip that last drop of Burrow Hill, and head off with the hardcore to the pub. Walthamstow dad t-shirt will be covered in vom by now.

Verdict: 3/5

Rich’s Farmhouse Sweet Cider

Richs Farmhouse CiderWhen my colleague took a trip to Somerset, he made sure to bring me back some of the good stuff. In the cider shop, his brief to the shop keeper was to find the cider with the worst name, having been told that the best ciders are the ones labelled  things like Pigswill, Rat’s Muff, Badger’s Arse, or similar. After being recommended the tequila scrumpy, by a toothless bumpkin, my colleague plumped for a Farmhouse Cider by Rich’s of Highbridge in Somerset.

As it’s a farmhouse cider, I decided to create a rustic photoshoot, by adding some almost-out-of-date vegetables in the background, and a wooden chopping board. Farmyard rustic at it’s peak. It was either that, or the bucket of cow dung.

The cider is honey coloured, and smells warm, oaky and sweet. It tastes as sweet, too. It’s like sucking on an old farmyard barn that has been marinated in honey. Or a pint of toffee apple. It’s sweet for a 6% cider, almost like a French cider.It’s a good one to try if you think that Rekorderlig is a real cider but would be scared to taste a Badger’s Arse.

It’s time to check out the Rich’s website. I find out Rich’s has been going since the 50s and they now have a thriving cider business, selling a range of cider (the farmhouse also comes in medium and dry, which could be interesting). They also have a museum, restaurant, children’s play area (while the rentals get lashed) and full disabled access, which would be equally useful to those who are just metaphorically legless. I like this place, it sounds friendly and cidercentric, and they sell 10 litres of cider, for £31 (including delivery)

Rich’s Farmhouse Sweet does what it says on the bottle. It’s a sweet, farmhouse cider, without a Badger’s Arse in sight. But I might need to fire up the combine harvester to carry 10 litres home.

Verdict: 4/5