Churchwards original cider review ” A medium dry with a nice smell but nothing else”. (6/10)
” Pleasant level of dryness”.
” Some eye catching packaging and a smooth smell”.
” Lack of character with a watery taste”.
” No real brand identity”.
” Does not describe any of the positives in the packaging”.
Upon browsing the Isles at my local b and m, I glanced across to the cider section only to find a brand new bottle which I had not previously sampled. It caught my eye from a distance due to it’s bright yellow label in contrast to the red of the apples just above the title “Churchwards” . On reviewing many subtle ciders recently, it made a refreshing change to see a cider not afraid to shout colour.
The fonts appeared highly mixed with the word ” original” in an informal font yet that of the brand title in capitals.
The percentage was printed on the forefront of the packaging as just a mere 4.5% which was similar to many other canned varieties yet much weaker than some of the vintage bottles such as thatchers Katy and the westons Jonathan Blair vintage both in the 7 percents.
The capacity was unusual yet appealing since it was exactly 568ml which equated to exactly a pint. The vast majority of bottles appear to be smaller than this at around the 500ml mark.
The smooth flavour is announced on the bottle blurb with not much else given away as to keep the mystery. It also specifies how sugars and sweeteners have been added, which whilst not sounding overly natural did reassure me that the taste experience should be pleasant and not lacking in sweetness.
Each bottle contained 2.6 units which meant that after 2 this would put you significantly over recommended limits with 5.2 units. At £1.70 for 2 bottles this was cheaper than other varieties such as thatchers Katy and a similar price to Jonathan Blair vintage with the added bonus of 2 bottles rather than 1 for this price. It was weaker though so 2 bottles seem required for optimal enjoyment.
The cider on further reading, specifies itself as being produced at a place called Aston manor in Birmingham. Not to be confused though with the place in which the orchards are situated since this was specified as either Worcestershire or Herefordshire on the website.
This producer was apparently the largest independently owned cider producing company in the UK and established since 1983. It also produces king stone press but is somewhat surprising that the drink doesn’t announce where the orchards are situated since the former specifies this as orchards local to Stourport-on-Severn which makes it sound producer of it’s sourcing.
Before and during opening there was a significant white and frothy head perched upon the golden brown fluid. Upon opening, a confident yet abrupt fizz was apparent, hinting of carbonation. A smooth and fruity scent met my nostrils at the first sniff which as usual faded into the abyss after a few subsequent attempts at aroma detection.
On the first sip the flavour was rather subtle. The cider was not thick in my mouth and didn’t leave a uniquely characteristic or strong flavour. It almost had the feel of a medium dry with a slight bitterness to the apples. The flavour was highly subtle and did not seem to provide any real acidity. The sweetness expected was also a bit of a letdown with a slightly longing feel left in your mouth for the satisfaction from added sweeteners and sugar as promised.
It also did not get any better on the carbonation front, since the promising head did not translate into fizziness. Later on, a slight flicker of acidity could be detected from the aftertaste. This was almost totally overwhelmed and drowned out by the significant dryness of the cider however. This dryness was medium which would be expected from a Herefordshire cider with apples such as Dabinett or Michelin. This was not specified however nor was the expectation for a medium dry.
The quirky nature of the packaging therefore seemed to create a confused impression. Not one of any real excitement of provenance by not boasting about the apples used nor matching a bold flavour with it’s bold colours. If anything, the flavour was very subtle and it’s only real strength appeared to be it’s medium dryness which would be a good attribute if this was what the brand represented.
Whilst some smoothness and fruit could be detected from the smell, the smooth characteristic as the sole one advertised isn’t obviously apparent so isn’t really a strength at all.
A medium dry cider with a confused identity not claiming it’s Apple varieties nor where they were grown. Only specifying Birmingham for the site of production which may have influenced the branding colours. Since the product in essence is a medium dry perhaps due to the use of Dabinett apples from Worcester or Herefordshire orchards. In my opinion, this should shine through in the branding. Carbonation is lacking along with acidity, tang from this acidity and sweetness despite added sweeteners. The cider is fairly watery by texture and flavour and only has the medium dryness from the apples to hide behind aswell as a subtly pleasant smooth aroma. Overall then certainly a let down in drinking experience. You can see why it is cheap.
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