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The Blending Inquisition…again

What do you mean again?? Are you recycling old content Mr Finch?? Well sort of. I wrote an article back in December 2020 where I tasted five iterations of Gold Rush a collaboration between Tom Oliver and Ryan Burke and also interviewed them about how it came about. I must confess since then I haven’t tasted another Gold Rush, so when I saw #9 was for sale, I couldn’t resist tasting it and adding it to my previous notes and continuing the vertical review, with a few changes of thought…

So below are my previous tasting notes for #5 to 8 a long with the new addition, #9. 

I’ve left the interview in the older article which you can read here

Gold Rush #5

Colour: Amber.

On the nose: Dried apple, leather, black pepper and a faint hint of oxidation. A nice whisper of peat smoke on the end that sort of evolves into a charred note.

In the mouth: There’s a slow steady stream of light bubbles in the glass, but it’s almost still in the mouth. The taste is mild, but with enough dryness to coat the sides of your mouth with fur. There’s hardly any acidity and all the impact is on the nose, just slight hint of that whisky barrel before an abrupt finish. No lingering about with this one.

Gold Rush #6

Colour: Rusty amber.

On the nose: certainly fresher than #5, but with a bit more oxidation, the smoke element is fainter and there’s some herbaceous character, maybe thyme? Followed by orange rind.

In the mouth: Definitely a sweet acetic note to this one, perhaps time or the crown cap has not been as kind. Slight acidity in a tangy sort of way and not as dry as #5. It’s more juicy and fruity, with an orange citrus edge to it. I can’t find any of the smoke from the barrel, but the flavour lingers much longer than #5.

Gold Rush #7

Colour: see #5 but a tad brighter and faster bubbles.

On the nose: peat reek; buckets of it along with leather and tobacco. Also an underlying tropical fruit aroma, maybe guava or perhaps nectarine.

In the mouth: smoking! Really juicy and yet really savoury at the same time with whisky and bacon rind. There’s more acidity than #6 but it’s clean. It feels a bit more citrus fruit forward too, but the smoke dominates to the point I can’t tell what type of citrus fruit.

Gold Rush #8

Colour: shade lighter than #6 but we’re back in rusty territory.

On the nose: slightly soapy with elements of pepper, orange rind and charred wood.

In the mouth: zero acidity to my palate but very juicy with lots of apple fruit at the front and a perception of sweetness at the end. There is a slight soapiness to it and the smoke only comes after a few seconds of swallowing. Lighter than #7.

Gold Rush #8 RAW

Colour: hazy orange/cloudy rusty amber and so much more fizz than any of the others.

On the nose: Orange skins, leather and whiskey barrels but fainter than #8. That soapiness is there again but it’s a smidge.

In the mouth: drier than #8 for sure, really coats the mouth. The extra carbonation really seems to lift it. Orange and spice, with hints of vanilla and a great dry finish. That whisky smoke arrives at the end along with smoked bacon rind giving a flourish of savoury character.

Gold Rush #9 (6.8%)

Colour: light copper

On the nose: apple brandy, orange segments and whispers of smoke 

In the mouth: wonderful balance of juicy fruit, gentle acidity, peaty smoke character and a savoury salty finish, all in harmony. To my taste there’s lots of Dabinett and Yarlington Mill flavours, juicy orange, vanilla and hints of wooden barrel. Super clean, smooth and very easy drinking.

If I were to deliberately pick out all the minor possible negatives (depending on your taste preferences) of the previous iterations on purpose to highlight how clean and easy drinking this vintage is; theres none of the oxidation I found in #5 or #6, the barrel doesn’t steal the show as with #7 and none of the soapy elements of #8.


Back in 2020 it was all about the #8 RAW as the standout bottle. I’m aware there was a RAW 2 but I didn’t get a chance to taste that one. Back then I thought the home bottling really lifted it well above the standard #8. I found a lot of fascinating variation across the four vintages of #5 to #8, and whilst I was having the chance to taste vertically through the years, the one factor that escaped me was time as the real factor that I couldn’t fully assess. Sadly I couldn’t recall what #5 tasted like when it was first released, or whether it was like #8 was tasting in 2020. I also couldn’t predict the impact of the future and whether #8 would be similar to #5 in 2024 (mainly because I wouldn’t be able to find any). I’ll never be in a position to know fully as they’ll all be affected by the passage of time. To concern oneself with that though misses the point, something still very true today.

So what about #9 then? Well I’ve tasted it young, a lot younger than some of the other vintages when I tasted them back in 2020. Truth be told I’ve tried a lot of ciders since 2020, so trying to recall this particular vertical and rank #9 within in it is folly, but that’s not the point either. I’ve tried a lot of ciders both young and old, I’ve saved some for several years and they’ve tasted fantastic, some haven’t aged well at all. Some are still packed away and I haven’t dare open them yet. What I can tell you though is that Gold Rush #9 is tasting fantastic right now and there’s a saying somewhere about the best cider being the one your drinking, which I won’t fully agree with in all cases, but on this occasion #9 may just be the best Gold Rush yet. 

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