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


Green Valley Vintage at the Pembury



I’ve been hanging out all day, in a Chelmsford shed, pretending to be Welsh. I eventually arrive home, and I’m considering going out to the pub, when I receive a photo of a scrumpy tap. That’s my cue to go meet a ciderkick who’s back from snowboarding and getting lashed in the pub.

Within fifteen minutes I’m back at the Pembury. This is becoming my second living room, and the bread and butter of Cidersense material. Looking into the history of the pub, as you do, I find that this large pub was built in first opened in 1886, and after a fire in the mid 1990’s it was re-opened in 2006. I’m glad it did. It’s quite a big pub, I wonder what’s upstairs.

My ciderkick has kindly chosen a cider for me, and has it ready at the table when I arrive. It’s an 8.3% Green Valley Vintage. Flat and room temperature, this cider smells like a proper scrumpy. Something of silage, and haystacks about it. It’s a paint stripper, but a fruity one. It’s almost dusty-dry, with a good bite. Just like slowly crashing a combine harvester into an old barn.

After discussing various injuries and deaths on the snow slopes, I decide that I will check out the Milton Keynes snow experience before I go sledging on a  placcy bag, again. Then the topic of alcohol content comes up, as the Green Valley’s 8.3% sounds a little worrying. Someone once told me, (his uncle owned a cider orchard), that the maximum legal content for a cider is 8.4, before it’s taxable as a wine. I wonder if there’s a market for apple wine. Having checked on HMRC website, it looks like you have to pay an extra £100 duty per hectolitre of cider of 8.5% alcohol or more, which is probably why it never reaches more that strength. Remember all those extra-strength ciders as a student, like Blue Ocean, White Lightning, K cider? (I did collect many of the limited edition K bottles, one is even still full!)

Green Valley Cyder is a Devon cyder, their website tells us all about the way they make cider and how cider originated in the Mediterranean. Green Valley is cyder with a Y, and I wonder Y there’s a picture of a bloke having a poo in a bucket on the homepage. Having a pre-ordered pint has thrown me off my routine, and I’ve failed to take a photo, so I posted the pic of the man pooping apples. A full flavoured cider, on the edge of the law.

Verdict 4/5

Henney’s Dry Cider and Henney’s Vintage 2012

I’m at my sister’s house, scraping wallpaper. Things have come a long way since I last did this. Now, we have steamers to help get the wallpaper off. It’s woodchip – the worst kind of wallpaper to scrape. She’s enlisted a number of family members, and after we get the plethora of steam related jokes out of the way (‘I’m steaming ahead’, You’re running out of steam’, We’re all steaming this weekend’, etc.), we’re making good progress. I just have to work out how to steam and scape without either blocking up the steamer, or having boiling glue falling onto my knuckles.

Now I really am out of steam, as my steamer’s water chamber is empty. Time for a break, and I toddle into the kitchen, where the fridge is stocked with a wide variety of bottled ciders. A Ciderman salary! A cider has already been poured for me, into a big, round glass, albeit a Duvel glass. Oh well, you don’t look at the mantelpiece when you’re stoking the fire, as they say. I pick up the part-poured bottle. Henney’s have gone for a bold vintage-style for their labelling, a simple black and white label, all capital letters, no pictures, wrapped up in a traditional beer bottle shape. No frills here, this is proper war-time cider. This is a 6% cider from the Frome Valley, Herefordshire. The accompanying canapées today, are mini chocolate doughnuts.Henneys dry

The golden-yellow cider is lightly sparkling, and smells quite strong and fruity. It’s a nice oaky smell, and something of a sherry-bite about it. The taste is refreshing, but rather than a dry cider, it’s more of a bittersweet and then I feel the tannins kick in and dry out my tongue. Not bad, easy drinking. However, it seems the smell of a real cider has some similarity to something else, when my brother-in-law begins to worry that the cat has piddled in the dining room, and the hunt ends with the glass of Henney’s. Can’t see it myself, unfamiliar as I am, with drinking cat’s piss.

The steamer has warmed up again, but now I have the wall in the curve of the bay window, which has to be scraped side-on in order for maximum contact. Once the paper is all off, the room doesn’t look too bad. Rather like a trendy, East London hipster hangout decor. Or a Roman excavation. I transverse into the kitchen once more, wondering how many words there are for ‘go’. In the cider chiller, I see another Henney’s. This time in a dark bottle with a black label. Looks intriguing, and it will bulk out this Henney’s post a bit.

Henneys vintageThis is the Vintage 2012 still cider. Also made from 100% apple juice, which is reassuring. The word ‘vintage’ on a bottle suggests that the drink is very old and expensive, however, all it really means is ‘this is the year the apples were picked (and no other year’s picks were mixed in)’. Well, 2012 must have been a good year. I remember being grateful I was in Ibiza that summer, to avoid the extreme temperatures over here, then arriving back London, in shorts, standing in the pouring rain, waiting for a taxi at 1am. Apparently it was also the wettest summer since time began, or whatever, so maybe this is what works well for a cider apple. Henny’s tell us that the varieties they use are Dabinett, Ashton Bitter, Tremlett’s Bitter, Yarlington Mill and Michelin. I wonder if they would grow on the strip of dusty asphalt I call a garden.

Oh well, this vintage will soon be history, as I sit down to drink it, in the freshly-scraped living room. This vintage is 6.5% and appears lightly sparkling like the last, and maybe a slightly darker colour, or it could just be the failing light, and my eyes filling up with water, as the cat has decided to sit on my lap, and dig his claws into my knee. It’s supposed to be affectionate, maybe like the affection we give our friends by giving them a dutch rub in the head, then laughing and pointing at them.

The Henney’s vintage is a similar taste to the ‘dry’ cider, a sweet, smoky taste, but this one is a bit more dry, and more to my liking. I’m surprised there’s no chunks of apple floating in this one. My sister joins me for a brief ciderising, bringing the food pairing for the Vintage – ready salted Hula Hoops.

So, Henney’s have a nice selection of sweet, fruity, oaky ciders, recognisably apple, but without any rubbish in them, which would appeal to real cider drinkers, and also to the uninitiated. I’m keen to give the rest of the range a try.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Weston’s Oak Aged Food Matching. Episode 1: Vintage

Westons VintageI’m at a friend’s house, we’re researching the best way to reach the desolate, industrial shoreline of Dungeness. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, we run out of wine! WHAT!? They don’t teach you how to deal with this at school! Useless GCSEs.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. My friend has wisely presented me with a pack of Weston’s bottled ciders, a foursome of oak-aged beauties. Not only are there four different varieties, but the back of the pack even has food-matching ideas.

It’s not a difficult decision to crack open the ciders, but I think that it will be a good idea to put the food matching ideas to the test. Yeah, let’s spice up this rail-route planning session. However, the cider we select will be dependent on what food is available. The Henry Westons Vintage at 8.2% appeals to both of us, in our current state. The recommended food to go with this cider is ‘Baked apples, flavoured with cloves and cinnamon and a good dollop of clotted cream’.

Some rapid kitchen cupboard research reveals we have apples but no cream. No problem for my continentally-trained ciderkick, who quickly whips up some sweet apples in, erm, milk.

Right, fruit strategically placed to look like this is a healthy meal, and oh, whip a tablecloth under there, for that more ‘rustic’ look, and an energy efficient bulb gives the impression that this is daytime. Even more wholesome!

Well, enough poncing about, let’s get down to it. Oh, the cider has a sharp nose. This one’s going to be dry. Mmm, nicer in the taste, and yes, very dry. My mouth is stripped bare, but in a nice way. Must be the tannins or something. Still this is fairly easy drinking for such a strong dry one. It has a nice balance.

The culinary delight, whipped up by Cidergirl, is a nice, sweet compliment to the heady cider, and at this strength, it’s getting headier by the minute.

I like the fried apples so much, I polish them off before remembering to return to the cider. I then polish that off, and we attend to the next cider in the box…

Verdict 3/5