Tasting two very different but tasty ciders….

14 Jan

Today, I enjoyed two bottles of cider. The first was a bottle of Dan Kelly’s Cider from Drogheda, Ireland. The second was a bottle of Yarlington Mill Cider from Gwatkin’s in Herefordshire. I picked the Dan Kelly’s first because I wanted to open a bottle of Irish cider in memory of my sister. It would have been her birthday today and she was a great lover of cider. Because my wife was enjoying the cider with me, we had to open a second bottle and I chose a bottle I knew would be very different for contrast.

Dan Kelly’s Cider

Dan Kelly's front labelFor me, Dan Kelly’s Cider is quite a lightly flavoured cider with a taste of apple peel. It’s fizzy and slightly cloudy. At 4.5% it’s not too strong. The light flavour comes from a mixture of both cider, cooking and eating apples.

According to the website: “Cider apples are blended with Bramley and dessert fruit to give the cider a dry finish.” I’m a little perturbed by the inclusion of Bramley as a specific named variety in this list. Does this mean that Bramley make up a lot of the volume of apples.

Dan Kelly's cider back and glass

Ingredients: Apple juice, water. Interestingly it says “May contain Sulphites”. This is just to cover themselves as the website says: “We don’t use sulphites or cultured yeasts. We don’t add acid, artificial colours, sweeteners or anything else. We simply press the apples and let wild yeasts do their thing. We then add some juice before pasteurising to allow the crisp, fresh and refreshing flavour develop.” Nice!

Yarlington Mill Cider from Gwatkin’s

Gwatkin's front label

Selected for contrast was a bottle of Yarlington Mill Cider from Gwatkin in Herefordshire. This is a cider with a much longer tannic structure that goes all the way across the middle of the mouth down to the throat. It has a floral, sherry perfumed scent and tastes quite sweet – probably partly due to the maturation in oak barrels. It was lightly sparkling and is a stronger cider at 7% vol. It’s a single apple variety – Yarlington Mill which is a bittersweet apple. “Ingredients: Apple juice, natural sugars and sulphites (trace)”

Gwatkin side one

Gwatkin side 2

More “natural” yeasts

Both of these bottles of cider include the word “natural” for their yeasts. To be more precise Dan Kelly’s talk about “natural wild yeasts”. For the purposes of understanding how the ciders are made, the word “wild” is a more useful. Using wild yeasts that are present on the apples and in the air is likely to include many different types of yeast that will give the cider a variable flavour profile. Dan Kelly are very clear about this on the website which is interesting and useful information.

In contrast, Gwatkin’s describe a cider that is “Matured in oak barrels with natural yeasts”. This could imply no addition of cultured yeast but it’s not very clear. ‘Cultured yeast’ are also natural and since they don’t say wild it difficult to be sure. The website shows a wide range of ciders that are made and include a shop that sells bottles and bag in boxes but doesn’t provide much extra information about how the cider was made. This was a little disappointing.

In summary, these are two ciders that reflect the local tradition of cider making in their area. They are both interesting and well made drinks. I enjoyed them. The variation in style and taste is one of the things I enjoy about cider.

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