The world of scrumpy cider can be a confusing and scary place for the uninitiated. Draw yerself a deep breath and wipe the nervous sweat from yer armpits as we prepare to pour our first pint...
Jack Ratt Scrumpy 6% ABV
Well, the bottle certainly looks inviting, shaped to look like a traditional earthenware cider jar. This zider hails from Lyme Bay in Devon. First impressions: Hmmm! Interesting taste! This is a very scrumpyish cider with a very strange aftertaste indeed. Im assuming the aftertaste comes from the apple variety used. No need to be alarmed! This is a lovely and unique cider with a flavour unlike anything else I have tried so far. Very still, like a true scrumpy should be. My advice would be to "try before you buy" with this one, as the rich, strange aftertaste may not be to everyone`s liking. I thoroughly enjoyed it the more of it I drank (strange that, eh?). Decidedly clear with no sediment sadly, so it musta been filtered...but who cares? This is nice stuff! A proper cider from the south west.
Jack Ratt Traditional 7.4% ABV
(Sadly no picture, as the bottle accidentally got thrown out!)
Again, this offering from Mr Ratt comes in a nicely shaped bottle, styled to look like a real cider jar! Wow. This is very, very different from the Ratt scrumpy. Even stiller, with a very clear consistency and a "simpler" flavour and aroma. It has one of the most mouth watering aromas I have ever sniffed emanating from a cider bottle! MMMM! Just pop the top and inhale......a beautiful, crisp, soft smell of apples. The smell really is gorgeous. On drinking, I found this cider to almost have the texture of a white cider, which I myself am not usually too keen on. This one however is really quite pleasant. It has the stillness, simple flavour and "authenticity" of real cider. You certainly have no problems tasting the apples either. I suspect this cider was made with maybe slightly sweeter apples than some ciders. I know a lot of common cider drinkers (those who like Strongbow, Scrumpy Jack etc, the supermarket ciders) will probably have a job to stomach this kinda stuff. My own opinion is that this is a real, proper cider....desperately in need of a west country man and some cheese and pickle sandwiches to make it happy. Kinda like "apple wine" but much more drinkable for not being as strong as genuine wine. Nice.
Heck`s Farmhouse Cider Medium 6% ABV
Ohh yyeaahh! Mmmmmmmmm! This is the stuff. Made in the town of Street, Somerset. Rich in the flavour of west country apples, still as a sedated sloth on a sunday drive, murky as a drizzly day in Taunton. I really enjoyed this offering from Heck (who the heck is he?). A friend of mine sometimes enjoys a Scrumpy Jack, but couldnt handle the authenticity of this liddle beauty! That kinda shows the difference between yer trendy modern brands, and yer real traditional-type cider. Cloudy, thick and luvverly! Definetly a cider drinker`s cider! It has a very full flavour, a distinctive apple taste, and no fizz at all.. Lovely! If you are down near Street, make sure to pick up zum of this `un before ye return home!
Heck`s Farmhouse Cider Dry 6% ABV
To repeat again, I quote: "Ohh yyeaahh!". Yum yum! This is the drier version of Heck`s farmhouse cider. Almost the same flavour, so what goes for the medium..goes for it`s drier brother too. Except, that of course it is drier and this may put some folk off. The real scrumpy drinkers will love this one though. It is probably getting towards as traditional a cider as you will find nowadays (although what do I know about traditional ciders? ). Some may find the dryness and richness of this cider a little unforgiving on the tongue, but I think Hecks have produced an absolutely gorgeous drink here....real good stuff!
Taunton Traditional Cider ???% ABV
I don`t have a picture of this cider, as the only place I have found it..is on tap at my local (The Ship Inn, Shaftesbury, Dorset). I`m not quite sure of the strength either, but I suspect around 7%. I feel I have to give this stuff a mention as it is probably still my number one cider of the moment. Also a bonus is that I believe it may be the cheapest pint in the pub at 1.85! Slightly cloudy, in fact..every pint varies in sediment content and colour as they get towards the bottom of the barrel. A fairly still cider, but sometimes with a miniscule amount of fizz. Very dry and smooth. This stuff is just so drinkable! Oh god! I could drink it all day (thinking bout it, New Year`s Eve I nearly did!) Lovely dry flavour, stillish, cloudy and strong. What more could a scrumpy drinker ask for? This is one of the nicest pints you will find in a pub outside of Somerset...
Weston`s Extra Strong Scrumpy 7.5% ABV
This is one of Weston`s main scrumpy`s, the other being their flagship traditional cider; Old Rosie. You know you are in for a treat with this beauty. Lovely murky texture. Little traces of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, and what looks like saliva sometimes floating around in it (I`m sure it aint saliva tho). This was the cider which changed me from being a man satisfied with supermarket shelf ciders, into a lover of the more traditional, scrumpified beverage. Having said that, you can find this on sale at Tescos..and other supermarkets. Absolutely gorgeous flavour! So moreish in fact, you`d best buy twice as much as you think you`ll need! Has a similar taste to Waitrose Strong Scrumpy, but even nicer. Still, fruity and flavourful yet dry (which I gotta admit is how I like my zider). Without getting lost in tiny villages in Somerset, this is one of the nicest ciders you will find for sale relatively easily.
Waitrose Strong Scrumpy Cider 7.3% ABV
Now this looks interesting. A yellowish scrumpy! Hmmm, and there`s a nice collection of sediment in the bottom of the bottle which is always a good sign when scrumpy-hunting. Strong, with more flavour than your typical scrumpy. This cider has a decidedly oaky taste to it, which some may like...some may not. Personally, I thourougly enjoyed this offering from Waitrose. It is a bit fizzy, but not enough as to spoil the overall scrumpyness of it. Maybe not a true scrumpy (despite the ample sediment) but nevertheless delicious with food or on it`s own. Waitrose has attempted to come up with a scrumpy that offers pleasent characteristics to those who maybe otherwise would avoid scrumpy. True scrumpy drinkers may turn their noses up at the slight fizzyness, but I give this cider a well earned thumbs up! If you are in need of good cider and not far from a Waitrose, give `ee a go!
Thatcher`s Mendip Scrumpy 6% ABV
Mmmmm! This is one of my favourites! Superb value for money too! Slightly fizzy, but you can always leave the top off the bottle for a bit to let it dissipate. Lovely, gorgeous, bloody lovely flavour! Quite a "simple" taste, yet Thatchers have really hit the nail on the head with this one. If I were to be left alone on a west country desert island (does Brownsea count?), I`d be more than happy to be (ship) wrecked with this `un! Probably has the largest ratio of sedement to liquid content I have seen! You are guaranteed with every bottle of this to find heapings of "gunk" in the bottom. What more can I say? If you like cider, this is an absolute must try. Refreshing, dry, appley, yet not sweet at all. Spot on! Excellent!
Thatcher`s Somerset Scrumpy Draught 6% ABV
What a nice bottle! Again plastic shaped to look like a real old-style cider jug. A good size too, 2.5 litres rather than yer plain, usual old 2. Interesting taste! Different for a scrumpy. Still, fruity, and not particularly dry. I enjoyed this though. It is very drinkable. Has that sorta "watered down wine" taste, which in my book is often a good thing. Slightly reminded me of white cider (which I normally loathe) but this stuff is rather nice. A good balance of different traits make this a good medium cider. Must be filtered sadly, as when I poured it into a glass it wasn`t very cloudy at all. You might be surprised at the taste , given the type of bottle this stuff comes in....but hopefully you will enjoy this cider from Thatchers. I did. Really not bad at all.
Thatcher`s Old Rascal 6% ABV
I was a little suspicious of the label. It depicts a dirty ole village yokel, with a busty young country lass on his knee. Could this be aimed at tourists and the like given its raunchy image? Hmmmm! Actually, Old Rascal really aint a bad zider. It has a little fizz and a weirdly bland taste. This isn`t actually a bad thing though. It is clean, refreshing and not too sweet. This is more similar to "normal" cider than scrumpy, but in this case I enjoyed it. Quite a good all rounder and fairly dry. It lends itself well to accompanying meals. If you maybe find the real thing a little rough on yer palate, this is one of the best alternatives. If you see `ee fer sale, check `ee out!
Old Cock Scrumpy 6% ABV
Hmmmmmm. Interesting name, but whatsit like as a drink? Ummm, well not very scrumpish is my own opinion. Fairly sweet but pleasantly drinkable enough. I hate to admit it, cuz this is quite a negative thing to say about an english cider...but the taste sorta reminded me of the "Hard" ciders of the United States. If yer a cider drinker and have visited the U.S, you will know that isn`t a very good thing. There`s nothing wrong with this cider, but the "scrumpy" mentioned in its name is a bit deceiving. True cider drinkers stay away.
Fowl Scrumpy 7.5% ABV
(No picture YET!)
Fowl Scrumpy is slightly more enjoyable than Old Cock scrump...but I still think it pushes the limits of what should be termed a "scrumpy". Again, it has that taste reminding me of American "hard" ciders...e.g - Not very nice. Having said that, i`m sure a lot of folk out there would enjoy this cider...but sadly, not me.
Snake Catcher Scrumpy Medium 7% ABV
Hrumpf. Now to get on my soapbox.....After travelling a number of miles to Burley, New Forest, Hampshire....I was excited when we finally located the farm producing Snake Catcher Scrumpy in the middle of the village. On suggesting to my dad it WAS worthwhile him manouevering the car down a narrow bumpy farm track due to the sign at the end of the track saying "OPEN"....we found out the bloody place was closed!!!! Please, please, please!!! What is the bleedin point of having an "Open" sign up if yer closed!! So with a tear in me eye, I ventured into a couple of the local shops on the offchance Snake Catcher Scrump was for sale there instead. *%$^**!!!! HOW MUCH FOR ONE LITRE???? I cannot remember the exact price, but I know at the time I thought .."Bloody hell!!! This has got to be the most expensive scrumpy in all of England!!!" It`s a real shame my experience with Snake Catcher Scrumpy was tinged by the place being closed , and then discovering it cost literally a small fortune to purchase!! Totally dissapointing, as it is in actual fact...a VERY nice cider! Cloudy, still, full of authentic flavour and just what I like! This is def a cider for the cider drinker. Someone responsible for pricing, please take note!
Snake Catcher Scrumpy Dry 7.4% ABV
Well, this is almost the same as it`s slightly less dry cousin. The flavour seems quite similar, but it is noticably drier. I found it hard to decide which I preferred more. The medium seems a little more drinkable, yet this one tasted to me like a real cider should. Very still, thick and with a delicious flavour. Although maybe too dry for some, I loved it. At the end of the day tho, they do seem rather overpriced. A real shame, as I thought both the Snake Catcher Scrumpys I sampled were two of the nicest ciders i`ve tried.
Millhouse Farm Cider Dry 6% ABV
Wow! Decent cider is produced in the county of Dorset afterall! On a journey to Dorchester, I discovered a little cider museum at Owermoigne. To my dismay, the shop was closed...then a kindly man ventured over and opened up and turned the lights on just for us! I told him I was interested in purchasing some of the cider available. Before I could say another word, he then proceeded to pour me samples of dry and medium cider, cider brandy and some kind of strong (17%) apple related drink! What a nice guy! This is just a small establishment but well worth a visit. They have antique cider presses on display, a clock museum, west country cheeses, wines and several different ciders. I purchased a gallon of the dry cider at a very reasonable price. Millhouse Farm House Cider is definetly a cider drinkers cider. I`m sure the less strong stomached amongst you might turn yer noses up at this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very dry, slightly filtered and completely still. With the merest hint of a vinegar-esque esscense as you sniff the aroma. It tastes better than it smells tho! Has that very "farm house" style flavour. A fairly mild tasting cider with a true authenticity. Be warned! Unless you really like a true dry cider, you might prefer to try the medium one instead. I found it the perfect accompaniment to bread and good old cheddar cheese. They just seem to complement each other. Very drinkable and refeshing despite the dry nature of it. I find it hard to describe the taste, but all I can say is that this is authentic, traditional and old fashioned. Just as cider should be!
BroadOak Dry Scrumpy ???% ABV
(No picture, as there wasn`t a label on the bottle!)
Hmmm. I purchased this from a small shop on the outskirts of Weymouth, Dorset. Outside they have a barrel advertising "scrumpy on sale here" so that was like a red rag to a bull and I had to pay them a visit. Standing behind the shops counter were three barrels of what I was told was BroadOak cider, made near Cheddar Gorge in Zomerset. I opted for 6 litres of the dry variety. They filled the bottles directly from the barrels, and there wasn`t even a label on the bottle to show what was in it! On arriving home, I proceeded to pour myself a sample. Again, the aroma is of traditional west counry "farm house" type cider. Still and slightly filtered. This has a very similar taste to the Millhouse cider mentioned above. After pausing to enhale the aroma, I dived in...Mmmm! This is gorgeous stuff! Traditional, still and dry yet fruity without being sweet! Totally lovely! It is what I want in a cider...and tastes just like I`m always hoping to find. Very nice stuff indeed, you can certainly taste the fruit in this one. Just the right balance of different character traits make this one of my favourites (although it`s a shame that they filter it). Bravo to BroadOak! Excellent, traditional cider.