Features, Reviews
Leave a Comment

The journey begins – Cider cups and “Ahhh sous bois”. 

Memories are a fickle friend. Sometimes they grab you by the hand and lead you off to a party. Bright and vivid, emotional. Rock anthems and power ballads.  Other times you are on your own. The earphone jack pulled out of the cassette player. The double A’s drained. 

It was the summer of 89. I was young and restless. Aged 9 and three quarters. “Nearly 10” to anyone that showed even the slightest interest. Double figures surely making you an adult, but still young enough to make new friends in the campsite just by saying bonjour. This is an age before early teen angst affects your confidence. But old enough to be trusted on your own for hours on end. 

We were on holiday. About an hour-ish south of Lorient, just on the south coast of Brittany.  This was a 4 weeker! Two weeks with the whole family, and then when my parents and sister returned home, I was to stay on with my grandparents. Because of this, I had been bought my own small tent. A supposed two-man, that my bag and I struggled to share, but it still felt great. Living on my own, adulthood, but without the worries and the bills. 

To call it a resort would have been a considerable over-sell. It was a tiny campsite with a ten minute walk to the local village. The boulangerie and the patisserie were a daily visit. The main supermarche was miles away. I can’t remember the name of the place, even trying to find the site a few decades later on a Brittany holiday, but to no avail. It probably didn’t meet today’s TripAdvisor requirements and likely closed. 

Facilities weren’t really its thing. No pool, no playground, in fact the concrete block toilet building was its only offering, and even that was basic. Those push button showers, that offered cold and, just as you thought it was warming, colder. Despite this, it had everything we needed. We could walk directly to the beach across the dunes and when you got there, the golden sands swept out to infinity in both directions. The blue sea becoming the sky at some point in front of you.

I remember the walk there. With the amount of equipment we carried you could be forgiven for thinking we were explorers, setting off on a rather relaxed expedition. Matts, folding chairs, umbrellas, cool boxes, and one of those multi coloured windbreaks that you hammer into the sand. As a dutiful and bonafide adult I was in charge of carrying the mallet and I carried it like Thor’s hammer. Checking grandpa had knocked the wooden uprights in properly, each post getting a firm tap and then a satisfied nod. Quite the responsibility. 

I would play in the sea or dig holes in the sand all morning, returning to the group for a sun cream safety check every now and then, but otherwise the time was my own. Playing in the sun. Nothing else mattered. The best days of my life, probably. Then early afternoon we would head back to the campsite for lunch. We would leave everything on the beach. It was those sort of days, and besides there was literally no-one else around. 

Lunch was the highlight of the day. A big spread of fresh baguettes cut at angles, with different hams and cheeses. And as this was a cider drinking region a bottle, or two, of French cider.  Shared amongst the adults, in these strange tea-cup like bowls. On previous holidays I don’t think I had even noticed. Tea cups were the most normal thing in the world.  

But I was an adult now, and I had become aware of alcohol. I had been trying a little bit of wine with the Sunday roasts, had decided that sherry, my mums favourite, was horrible, and had developed a penchant for the Christmas boozy chocolates. Alcohol in this format I could understand. Even the ones with whiskey in were delicious. 

Except that now something changed. Granny handed me a wrapped box. I ripped it open with gusto, as my birthday wasn’t for another 57 days, and they may have demanded it back. I was very confused, and rather delated, when I saw what it was. Everyone looked on expectantly. I forced a smile. Thanks. A cup? Normally if you unwrap a cup as a gift it can be rather underwhelming. (So Claire tells me!) 

“Its your very own cider cup. You have become very mature and responsible, and we think you deserve one”. Oh wow. Game changer. My breath taken away. 

I can’t tell you how exciting it was, on that first lunch of the holiday, to be presented with this gift. It has a name – a ‘bol’ or ‘bolee’. A piece of glazed earthenware, popular throughout the cider drinking areas of Normandy and Brittany. Even now I don’t know why this particular vessel type defeats a normal glass, but I loved it. 

Mine was handmade, the same style as my parents and grandparents, but in blue. Slightly too big for my small hand, meaning that it needed both to pick up, making it feel more important. Every sip became an event. This was recognition of my maturity and for the whole holiday it was my most prized possession. In hindsight I am not sure how responsible it was to give a 9 year old an alcohol based gift, but hey, this was the 80’s, and we were on holiday.  

I really want to tell how you much I liked the cider. The following decades of drinking falling into place with these first tastes. I can remember where we sat, what we ate, how the table was sited in the shade of a tall evergreen, but I remember nothing about what the cider tasted like. Was it fizzy or still, sweet, or dry, soft and mellow or zingy and fresh? Given how food and drink can be such powerful memory triggers I am disappointed I have nothing. They call it gustatory memories, smells and tastes triggering emotional responses, but all I knew was that I had my cup and with it adulthood. 

The downside of being a responsible adult is that I now had to do the washing up. I remember vividly that I would always wash the cider cups first. Using the cleanest and freshest water. Water was a valuable resource as it had to be carried from a standpipe a good distance away, so you wouldn’t wash the dirty knives and forks until last. The cider cups were polished so clean I was warned I would rub the glaze off, and then when satisfied I would keep my eye on the precious bowls as they were dried and put away. 

It certainly feels very civilised drinking from a cup. I had seen pints, huge towering pieces that would spill soon as they were looked at, and wine glasses obviously. Mums sherry glass was this small cut crystal thing that had a magical ability to never be empty. Cups were for tea. 

Yet there is an incredible history to cider in cups. Cider is a drink with tales that span the ages. We know from archaeological digs that glass drinking vessels have been around for thousands of years. There are incredible pieces of glassware in museums. James Crowden’s brilliantly researched book “Cider Country” tells us about Scudamore’s flute and Georgian cider vessels. Ornate, long stemmed, etched with emblems. 

In the Metropolitan Museum in New York there is a solid silver cider cup. Just 3cm high, and delicately engraved with branches, leaves and fruits. Apparently given to the captain upon a successful voyage delivering people and fruit trees to the new world. Despite its inarguable class I can’t help but think, that if I was the captain, and had successfully spent two months navigating the unknown, I would prefer something bigger! Maybe the party was saved for after the return voyage home. He was after all, only half way there, woah. Then would get the fanfare. 

But these pieces were the showstoppers. For drinking ciders at palaces or mansions. In rural areas, cider making areas, where you worked the land, there was no need to show off. You would drink from earthenware, glazed and decorated with pictures of apples and the countryside. Glass was fragile and expensive, ceramics could be dug out the ground and were sturdier. 

And you could have fun with them. In the middle of the 18th Century cider mugs were formed with tiny ceramic frogs into the bottom. Drinkers getting a shock uncovering a small amphibian was considered the height of humour. Hilarious. There were two handed mugs too. Varying in size, but often carrying two pints – these were supposed to be shared probably at Wassail, or other celebrations. I bet this is what the captain would have wanted. 

Anyway, after cleaning chores we would all return to the beach. It was cooler now, so we would play games. Frisbee, bat and ball, or one hand one bounce cricket. The cool box forming the stumps. The umpire was the bowler, who was also the next to bat, and it was a time pre DRS, so if the ball touched your body you were almost certainly out LBW. 

I remember granny would come charging in off the long run, and then hurtle the ball quite often directly at your head. Your best bet was to dive out the way, and hope grandpa, behind the stumps, did the same. He was a very quiet and considered man. To speak with him you really had to listen. I only remember him making any sort of loud noise on three occasions. A rubber ball flying close to his nose would result in a powerful “Blimey”. The good thing was that as the ball raced off into the distance there was the opportunity to run. Sometimes you could get to double figures by the time he had picked himself up, dusted himself down and loped off after it. You had to shout “In” when you had finished running. I remember that rule clearly – It was my sister’s favourite mode of dismissal. 

To be fair to my grandparents they were both well retired, and both had a few cups of the good stuff at lunch. Incidentally the second exclamation time was also at the beach. He would wade out waist deep and stand for a while. Then without any warning he would fall backwards submerging his shoulders into the cool ocean water and let out an almighty bellow. Like something had gone badly wrong. I get that the sea was chilly, but I always felt it a bit unnecessary. I realise now that, somewhat contradictorily, the quiet had to come out somehow. For the third – keep reading.

Then as the sun touched the horizon it was time to head back. As we crossed the dunes, we would all turn and admire the colours of the sky. Reds, oranges, greys and blues. Nobody spoke – just a collective and contemplative contentment. And different colours and patterns each evening. Vivid colours. Vivid memories. There is a word for the lovers of sunsets – Opacarophiles, and here we were, together as a family, relaxed and enjoying life. Good times never felt so good. So good. So good. 

There is one other thing I remember about this holiday. On the walk into the village we would pass the Chateau. A grey stone arched entrance, wrought iron gates, with a cobbled entrance behind. A small A-framed blackboard outside the only indicator as to the wonders within. This was the creperie, and once a week it was treat time. 

In later years as we discussed these holidays I was informed that this place took their cider very seriously. They had acres and acres of orchards, the whole village helping out at harvest time, with a cider making heritage going back centuries. Sometimes, I am told, we would walk through the orchards, but my passion for these places had not yet been kindled. And besides, it was early July. Blossom had gone, but the orbs of fruity joy were not yet visible. Tiny fruitlets would have been formed, but disguised against the leaves. 

As we sat down in the restaurant, I now recognised the cider cups. These were more commercial in appearance – white with red effects, but I was here for it, and I think the waitress liked me. She smiled when I said “jambon avec fromage s’il vous plait” and she poured me cider without even getting approval from my parents. She could tell I was a grown up. I think I blushed, and I could feel my younger sister’s eyes lasering in on me. She didn’t want to miss a thing, and I had exposed a weakness. 

And then Grandpa from nowhere, started to loudly slurp his cider. Here in the restaurant! And in front of the waitress! How embarrassing. Pourquoi mon Grand-pere? I wanted to hide under the table. 

The quietest of men, with the loudest of slurps. But the waitress didn’t run off screaming in horror at the uncouth Englishman, she smiled, she even seemed impressed! He explained that by drawing the liquid over the tongue it helped to pick out some of the flavours of the cider. 

Somewhere around a hundred million years ago as our skulls changed shape we evolved to lose the ‘transverse lamina’ – a bone that separated the mouth from the nose. When eating or drinking, air is trapped inside the mouth and ends up bouncing around and up into the nasal cavity. Triggering the powerful receptors sited at the back of the nose– “taste”. 

I tried to copy him and nearly choked myself. She smiled again. I still remember the waitress used a phrase, that I didn’t understand yet loved. It has, she said, the “Sous bois”. Accurately translated it means Under Wood, but more prosaically it means under the branches. The Orchard Floor.

My memory of the restaurant, and the holiday, comes crashing back, full surround sound, lighters waved into the night sky, every late autumn. At this point if you go to an orchard there are likely apples all over the place, even when you are trying to harvest as many as possible. Old orchards can be extremely generous. The temperatures are cooler now, with very few insects still around. There may be the slight drizzle of November rain, and so the fallen start to very slowly rot. There is a distinct and recognisable aroma – over ripe apples, wet grass, fallen leaves, the orchard floor. The sous bois.

It was nearing the end of the holiday and by now it was just the three of us. We had one final visit to the Creperie planned. Secretly I had mastered the art of the retro nasal – drawing the liquid over the tongue to enhance aromas. I practiced with water, when no-one was around. Finally managing to negate both the obvious choking and the unsettling dribbling concerns. I was only nine and three-quarters and was unable to assign any descriptor’s or recognise any flavours in the ciders. But now I was definitely a grown up, and besides, my sisters teasing had departed two weeks before. 

Most importantly I wanted to impress the waitress. She would pour, I would slurp, and we would both say “ahhh sous-bois”. I was quite shy and would have to do it without disturbing the whole restaurant. I would do anything for her smile, but I wouldn’t do that. 

When I think of French ciders, I tend to think of a technique called Keeving. Yeasts convert sugars into alcohol, the process of fermentation, but to do this they also need nitrogen and amino acids (in the same way we need both carbs and protein). If you can reduce these latter elements then you can slow the ferment to an eventual stop. Leaving the natural apple sugars, so a sweeter cider, without any additions, and if you bottle it just as the fermentation stops you can capture the final bubbles. Creating a natural fizz. Tough to do, but it can make brilliant ciders.

It’s a slow process, normally starting with a late harvest, when temperatures are down into the single figures, and as a maker you have to accept that you don’t have much control – it can lead to a large variety in the final product. It is always a wild or natural yeast fermentation. Or more technically – a succession of wild yeasts, as some yeasts die out as the process evolves. A cultured yeast, like a wine makers yeast, is far too ‘efficient’. 

Good things take time. Eventually the fermentation stops with original apple sugars left. Sweeter will have lower alcohols. Drier having more body and complexity. For example if we assume a normal cider ABV is 6.5%, then a keeved cider at 3.2% will be about 50% fermented. And the apples that you choose have a vital role in the end flavour profile.  There is a time for eating apples, but this is not it. You want all that big cider apple tannin represented. 

There is a brilliant article here featuring an interview with a French writer Camille where she really digs deep into the cider making areas and styles that can be found in France. But we also have some amazing makers in this country showcasing the technique of Keeving, so let’s have a look. All of these are served at around 8-10 degrees. They are all 750ml which I feel makes them more of a sharing bottle. Most priced around £10-£12 which I think is really good value, when you consider all the time and effort that goes into each bottle. 

Kerisac Brut – review

First impressions. I don’t know much about Kerisac, it states they are Brittany and this is 100% apple juice. The label is vintage style, and it has foiled neck sleeve. Cidre Bouche, or cider with cork, so we are expecting a fizzy cider. I picked this up for just £7, which feels too cheap if you consider it has been imported and then sold via a retailer. The maker must be getting just a couple of pounds to harvest it, make it, bottle it etc. I choose ‘Brut’ with the slightly higher alcohol at 5.5% The other option ‘Doux’ was more like 3.5% but I would expect this to be far too sweet for me. 

Appearance: Clean gold with an attractive sparkle

On the nose: Vanilla with cooked apple, a bowl of warm apple Strudel with a side of crème anglaise. American Pie. Custard apple pudding if you remember them. If I go searching maybe a touch of spice, a drop of rum and raisin. 

In the mouth: Very pleasant, a little tingle of the tip of the tongue, from the soft fizz, and hint of acidity. Not overtly sweet, the sugars in balance with the other elements. A gentle friction from the tannins. Velvety soft. 

In a nutshell: I want to know more about the maker, but I am likely to buy again. 

Bartestree Normandy Style Cider 2021 – review

First impressions. Based up In Hereford, I have bought from Fiona and Dave before, but that was a range of their perries, all of which I thought were outstanding. I have heard great things about their keeved cider. I am not given much information on the label – just that is a blend of 10 different apples, but without telling me which. 3.2% alcohol, so I am expecting a higher level of sweetness. 

Appearance: Poured slightly cloudy, somewhere between gold and amber. 

On the nose: Fruity. Plenty of apple, fresh and crisp, but sliced and stored to just soften those skins.  Light stone fruits, white peach or lychee, with a squeeze of gooseberry. I am definitely outside with this one. A little bit of dried straw blows past on the breeze. 

In the mouth: Full of juice, but the lower alcohol represents here. There is plenty of sweetness, but to my taste the flavour feels simple, lacking depth and complexity. For me, it’s missing its cidery legacy. 

In a nutshell: Quaffable. The bottle goes quickly, and this feels like a perfect drink for a summer picnic. 

Barley Wood Orchard Vintage Sparkling Keeved 2018 – review 

First impressions. A Somerset producer who harvests and produce in the grounds around the Ethicurean restaurant. I have visited the orchards and eaten in the restaurant, and highly recommend both. The restaurant and the cider are completely different businesses, but if you go to the restaurant, order some ciders. They press on a large traditional rack and cloth press, producing a range of brilliant ciders. I was fortunate to stand next to Barleywood at the Cider Salon 2021, really nice people doing things the right way. Plenty of detail on the back of the bottle including the apple varieties. Dabinett and Chisel Jersey stand out, but there is also Vilberie – which is a French variety introduced to this country in the mid 19th Century and known for its tannins, porters perfection, browns and Kings favourite. 6% alcohol but this is a 2018, when the sugars were also high, so its hard to guess the sweetness in advance. [Ed: Adam also reviewed this cider here  and enjoyed it so much he included it in his ‘Essential Case’ 2021]

Appearance: A satisfying thump on the opening the cap, this pours as a nice copper moving to amber, clean and with a nice shine. 

On the nose: Crème brulee crust, cooked apple, rum and raisin. There are some dark stone fruits -damson along with mulled spice and burnt orange rind. 

In the mouth: I felt a bit of tannic bitterness on my first taste, but my palette quickly adjusted. Just a touch of sweetness, the 6% alcohol represented with more body and character. Less velvety than some, this is mouth filling, but not face puckering. 

In a nutshell: I would buy again. It’s a great example of a more complex keeve, and the makers are ace. 

Ganley & Naish Pastures 2020 – review

First impressions. Label held in place with a rubber band. Crown cap sealed with black wax and very small batch. mine was bottle 5 out of just over 100. Andy Jenkins, the head cider maker, is one of the nicest guys in cider. Often at the Clevedon market, he’s a source of inspiration and knowledge.  Plenty of information on the label. Apple varieties and approximate percentages offered, with this cider containing Yarlington 40%, Browns 20%, Dabinett 20% and Harry Masters Jersey 20% – a classic late harvest example. The other item on the label which is different (and that I really like) is that it identifies the final SG (specific gravity). Sugar as solute provides buoyancy in a liquid and the SG is a measure of how much sugar there is. So this tells me there will be a good level of sweetness. Alcohol 4.6%

Appearance: A hazy summer sunset. 

On the nose: Freshly opened jar of jam served on rye bread. A burnt orange marmalade. A wisp of smoke, with some dried bitter black tea and cinder toffee, like the inside of a crunchie. 

In the mouth: Pretty much as the nose, with some honeyed caramel notes. Very well balanced, there is sweetness, but it’s matched with a really nice full flavour, with plenty of body. 

In a nutshell: He calls this Farmhouse Cider, but it’s far too good for that. Make more Andy. 

Temple Cider Michelin 2020 – review 

First impressions. Temple Cider are based in Dorset and seem to be growing into the cider scene. They have a nice simple bottle label, and this is a single variety. Just one type of apple has gone into this keeve – The Michelin. This is another apple variety that originates from France in the mid 1800’s, and named after Henri Michelin, a famous pomologist. I love that this was a thing! One piece of good advice I have been given about the Michelin, is that to not pick it when it drops. They need to mature for at least a few weeks. I know some eventually harvest this is the final weeks before Christmas. [Ed: NB – Highly unlikely that this is the Michelin apple. The apple extensively planted as Michelin in the 20th century has been revealed by DNA tests to be Bisquet. More information here.] 5.2% alcohol. 

Appearance: Hazy orange. 

On the nose: Initially a hint of acetic, but it’s gone by the next swirl. Candied peel moving towards clove. There is an underlying earthiness, a little vegetal, but not in a bad way – damp hay loft, mixed with woodchip. 

In the mouth: A well-managed pet-nat with a lovely fizz. Its not overly sweet, and a soft astringency that develops into something more full bodied with each sip. The faintest hint of acetic returns at the back of the mouth spoils something, for me at least, that could be really good. 

In a nutshell: I think Michelin is a good choice for a SV keeve. Softer and more mellow than some other late season varieties. 

Wild West Cider Tropical Times – review

First impressions. A newish maker who I gather are wine makers who realised that cider is better! I like how their bottles look – modern, with bright colours and interesting names. This is “Tropical Times” with a tropical flavour profile they suggest comes through from an apple variety called Ashton Brown Jersey. 3.9% Alcohol. 

Appearance: A hazy dark gold. Nice fizz. 

On the Nose: Big heady jammy richness. Baked apple and quince. Apricot. The fruit softened and stewed. A swirl of orange. Warmed honey. This is a really deep interesting nose that I want to keep exploring. Layered. In the higher tones there is some vanilla, a bit of fresh berry, a waft of dried hay. 

In the mouth: The sweet floral unctuousness of apricot and quince comes through. A reminder that this just contains apples, but it’s always surprising how they can present. Quite jammy, just touching a bit syrupy, but there is a refreshing pick me up of summer fruit acidity to counteract. There is some body considering the low alcohol content. A pleasing soft mellow astringency. We are definitely more in the realms of cider than juice. 

In a nutshell: Love the nose. It’s probably more “Sub-tropical Times”, but to be fair that doesn’t sound anywhere near as good. So impressed I think I am going to plant some Ashton Brown Jerseys. 

Domaine des Cinq Autels Cidre de Normandie Brut – review 

First impressions. Another French maker, and again available at a bargain price. This time we are based in Normandy, to the North coast of France. The back label doesn’t tell me much about what to expect, except they are an organic grower and its 100% apple. 5.3% alcohol

Appearance: Gold. And its fizzy. Very. It’s crystal clear, with not trace a sediment in the bottle. 

On the Nose: Something here just isn’t for me. At best I can offer a certain herbaceous touching earthy but really its more vegetal, cabbage perhaps. There is also a faint meatiness that puts an end to the nosing. 

In the mouth: Tastes much better than it smells. A nice level of sweetness – more than I would have expected given the alcohol level. They have chosen a much more acid lead selection of apples to represent here – think eaters and cookers, and there is a fresh vibrancy to it.  There is a little bit of soft astringency, but in all honesty it doesn’t feel well rounded. I may be harsh here as I have a picture of what a keeved should feel like, but this doesn’t give me what I was hoping for.  

In a nutshell: If we set the aroma aside, and drink it in isolation, then it’s refreshing and fruity. But it just doesn’t stack up against all the other keeved ciders we have tasted. 

Pilton Keeved Season 2021 – review

First impressions. Presentation wise this looks amazing. Black label with the white and the red. Modern and clean. Pilton know how to present a product, and it’s a clear bottle which shows off an attractive clarity and a warming and glowing sheen. I am loving it before I have even tasted it, even though I am not told anything about the varieties. Martin Berkeley is one of the nicest guys in cider (have I said that already?), I have been lucky enough to bump into him twice and he has always been very giving with his time and knowledge. He helped set up Cider Salon, ran (runs?) South West Cider week, and spoke brilliantly at Craftcon. I don’t know if there is another cider maker who does more to promote the little guy. He also uses orchards to the max – he has done things with quinces, cherries and plums. I am half expecting a medlar and mulberry mix soon. And given that cucumbers and butternut squashes are fruits who knows? This keeved is 4.5%, which is bang in the middle of what we have encountered so far. 

Appearance: A hazy orange. Saharan dust. 

On the nose: Fruity. Super ripe apples, our closest to sous-bois, so far. It smells unctuous, with honeyed orange, peach and guava. Not baked but definitely in the tray and warmed, softened to release the sweetness. A bit of hard caramel touching light toffee, a candied treat. Quality street finger not a toffee penny. 

In the mouth: Nice level of fizz, with plenty of sweetness. A little bit of vibrant acidity for lift, and then a mellow astringency for body. This is smooth with a second and third sip required. 

In a nutshell: you can see why Pilton sell all over the world. I would like to know the apples – Dabinett for sure?, maybe Ashton Brown Jersey for that peach note, Browns for the elevating acidity?

Wilding Ditcheat Hill 2020 – review

First impressions. I have only met Becky and Sam once, when I stopped by at one of their sales days. They were both lovely. He had his scythe sharpening stone tucked into his belt, so I instantly recognised a pair that has a connection with the land. These guys are friendly, knowledgeable, landscape loving, tree devotees with skills. This cider may not technically be a ‘keeved’. It is very low alcohol – just 3.4% which suggests to me that probably is, but there is another method to achieve a similar outcome, that I know they are fans of. Where in keeving you try and remove as much nutrient as possible before the fermentation even begins, it is also possible to slow the ferment down to an eventual stop using a process called ‘cold racking’ or sometimes referred to as the rural method. On really cold days the yeast may drop out of suspension, and then you can pump the liquid into a clean vessel. If you do this 4 or 5 times, you can get the fermentation to run out of energy leaving the natural apple sugars. I don’t know which technique this one is – lets see how it presents. We are told its 40% Yarlington Mill, 40% Browns, 15% Ashton Brown Jersey and a little bit of Sweet Coppin. 

Appearance: Run out of ways to say dark gold now. 

On the nose: The Yarlington mill really represents here, but not in a coarse way. Smokey, but sat around the campfire the morning after. Dried apples, dark orange, cloves. 

In the mouth: Different to what I expected. The Browns really comes to the fore, but before that a very soft, and gentle bubble. For me, this really works with this style of cider. The more carbonated offerings felt slightly disconnected. Plenty of sweetness here, remember this is only 3.4%, and there is a refreshing and vibrant summer fruit acidity. Not as much body as some others, just a tickle of cheek tugging astringency. 

In a nutshell: really enjoyed this. I love how the apple varieties bring such differences to the party. 


Given that many of the apple varieties we have come across have been the same, and the technique is well documented, I have been quite surprised as to the variation across the bottles. The Dabinetts, the Jerseys (Ashton Brown, Chisel, Harry Masters), the Yarlies, the Browns are classic late harvested apples, and so I did expect that there would be many similarities amongst the tastings, but this was not the case. The truth is that before I even started, I already had a picture of what I expected/wanted – a well-balanced drink, bit of sweetness, plenty of fruit, just a slight lift of gentle acidity, and then a full but mellow body. Every drink ticked some of those boxes. There was no obvious ringing of the sous-bois bell – we did say at the start that memories could be fickle, but my favourite aroma was the Wild West Tropical times. It was so big and complex that I could have nosed it for ages. I can’t say I have a favourite, but if I was going to recommend a keeved for someone that had never tried one before, then probably the Pilton.  Though actually I would ask the readers to go out and buy as many of these as possible. 

If music can be moving and joyous then tasting some real cider made by brilliant makers with love and passion can be the same. I will finish with one final musical referral (I hope you noticed I snuck some into the piece). If you wanna know what keeved is, I’ve wanted to show you. If you wanna feel what keeved is … then you need to buy some. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s