Aspall Suffolk organic cyder review (8/10) ” Practical with tang, yet unbalanced and simple”.
” Great backstory from the website”.
” Clear expectations for taste and sampling”.
” Practical with good value”.
” Smooth and natural smell”.
” Quite full-bodied with subtle carbonation”.
” Pleasant and punchy tang”.
” Not enough fruit or sweetness in the taste”.
” Not a dry cider as claimed”.
” A little one dimensional with a lack of uniqueness which was expected”.
The bottle was instantly distinctive with a very different shape from the standard. According to the website this was not an accident. It was apparently produced in this way at great expense but was intended to emulate the quality of champagne bottles from the days of when cider was seen in the same league as this upmarket beverage. It was held in this stretched and reticulated vessel which perhaps was holding some mystical fluid. The history was lengthy and so my expectations for a backstory were high. This bottle therefore appeared to symbolise true quality and tradition.
On website inspection, the cider proclaimed 300 years of history with the establishment year noted as 1728. This made it far older than Weston’s of Herefordshire established 1880 and of Bulmers established in 1887. In fact I do not recall sampling an older cider makers potion.
To stop the consumer worrying that Aspalls’ cider is not innovative or changing with the times it claims global recognition and combining it’s tradition with development. Not words to be taken lightly when concerning quality and uniqueness of a product.
Their cyders use pressed apples from Aspall hall which is located in the Aspall hamlet just north of a market town named Debenham in central Suffolk.
The hall was passed to a man named Clement in 1722 by his uncle Temple. Temple was travelling from Jersey with his Suffolk born mother and then decided to invest in the hall for their nephew Clement.
Clement apparently made some brick modifications to his newly acquired building and during the 19th century a subsequent generation of his family further modified one of the floors for medical purposes.
6 years after acquiring possession, Clement began cider producing. Hence the 1728 date labelled.
The website is quite extensive… moreso than most others about the site and history of production. This made the brand seem a passionate one which was definitely a plus. For sanity purposes I left my background study and reading there.
Whilst the rural impression seems innocent, so does it’s rather standard cost at £1.80 from Waitrose. This was discounted from just over 2 pounds however but still wasn’t especially pricey considering it’s unique bottle or heritage. When you factor in the 500ml bottle capacity and prominent ABV of 7% , the 3.5 units contained is pretty ideal for just one bottle. This meets precisely the “do not regularly exceed” suggestion from the government.
This kept the cider practical with a cheapness unrivalled by some others such as Savannah. With an alcohol percentage which dwarfs many such as merry-down, Aspalls’ organic cider is not hiding away. It doesn’t burst out with insanity though thankfully, such as the 2016 Henry Weston’s vintage soon to be reviewed at 8.2%.
So far so good, but how about taste expectations. Perhaps the traditional spelling of cider as Cyder on the bottle front with a classic portrait, you’d expect some maturity and complexity in the flavour. This means traits such as tang and variable taste throughout sampling. The year of establishment suggests with brand innovation that it should have created a flavoursome drink by this time.
The blurb announced a cyder maker named Perronelle Chevallier. He was described as a pioneer who established a soil association in 1946 and also assisted in the organic movement. It goes on to detail descriptors as earthy, rustic and astringent. Astringency generally means bitter although this is mentioned as a result of the tannins which are dryness chemicals suggesting this was the meaning intended in this case.
The words rustic and chewy suggested to me a natural and full-bodied flavour which potentially has pieces of apple submerged. The word earthy is not one I had encountered but again appeared to hint of a natural taste.
A dry, full-bodied cider which tastes fruity and naturally sweet then would be expected. Announcements for carbonation and acidity levels are not suggested leaving some things to the imagination.
We shall see …
On opening a prompt, confident and abrupt fizz revealed a crisp, natural and appley scent which was highly smooth and suggested a fruity tang. On subsequent sniffs this slowly got weaker and soon faded into slight fruity sweetness.
After a few glugs from the cool vessel chassis, the taste emerged. It was not heavily carbonated yet sufficiently so and had a certain tangy character. It was not the most syrupy I had tasted but was far from watery. The flavour was highly smooth and transition to the aftertaste wasn’t highly noticeable.
The acidic tang stayed apparent on sampling. Following tasting, limited dryness was left on my palette since this was left rather moist. As a dry (astringent in this case) cider, I would not have expected this which indicated that the proclaimed tannins were perhaps in need of enhancement.
The main element of the flavour was natural and not artificial as you’d expect, but the tang overwhelmed most of the taste element. This tang was a good trait however and definitely added quality to the drinking experience. The drink was certainly rather refreshing, although wasn’t quite as balanced as I’d have hoped.
Subtle carbonation, great tangy acidity which steals the show away from the natural, organic fruit. Not enough apple taste or sweetness is present to balance the drink. Not unpleasant and some character, yet not enough to make this stand out from the crowd.