Henney’s 2016 vintage exhibition cider review (7/10) ” Value, nature with a whisper of sensory appeal”.

The Good

” Subtle acidity and natural fruitiness”.
” Good price and practical alcohol quantity”.
” Nice bottle design and not watery.”
” Moist and smooth aftertaste”.

The Bad

” No dryness as described”.
” Lack of carbonation”.
” Lack of sweetness and limited acidity”.
” Not totally full bodied”.
” Not complex in flavour”.
” Lack of warming aftertaste”.

Packaging

The short portly bottle is not reticulated like the champagne style vessel of Aspall’s. It did possess a prominence though which perhaps made up for lack of colour on the bottle label. What the bottle did well was to showcase the colour of the amber fluid with clear glass and a black label to contrast strikingly with it’s paleness.

Mike Henney’s name is mentioned on the bottle and upon website inspection, it seemed like he started the business from home in 1996. Since then it had purportedly grown considerably… The apples are now provided from Wyre croft farm at Bishops Frome; A village of around 800 inhabitants near Suckley. This surprised me since despite it’s rural origin and traditional branding, the business is a year younger than me . Quite unlike the super longevity possessed by Bulmer’s or Weston’s of the late 1800’s, and almost put to shame by the establishment of Aspalls in the late 1720’s.

Over a hundred years earlier !!

The gold writing was formal yet traditional in font and specified the words Herefordshire, exhibition and fine. Also being made from 100% freshly pressed juice. This created a little intrigue as I hadn’t previously encountered the word exhibition in relation to cider at all. Maybe in the context of tennis to specify shots aimed at showing off, so perhaps it had the similar meaning of fancy or premium.

On turning the bottle this was clarified. It specified that the drink was the dry cider class entry of Henney’s for 2016. This was supported by stating how the highest standard juice from Herefordshire cider apples had been used and that a complex aroma and taste experience should be expected.

It defined exhibition, as cider resulting from the previous years autumn harvest apples being showcased with competition entries during the following spring. Seeing as the year of vintage is 2016 this cider supposedly was entered for spring of this year.

It went on to mention how people from Herefordshire respect subtlety but do occasionally like to show off suggesting that Mike Henney’s himself endorses this drink as a confident performer. The blurb moral appeared a little contradictory in this respect however, seeing as though it could describe itself as a dry cider with attributes in tentative language rather than boasting about them. This could maintain this notion of subtlety, even in a high quality product.

The price was £1.29 from Aldi per bottle which was cheaper than most others I could find, nevertheless slightly dearer than the great value Capel road No. 5 from b and m. The bottle did provide 3.25 units for 500ml at 6.5%. This was practical and considerably strong, albeit not quite at the dizzy heights, or should I say heads, of Aspalls’ organic or Westons’ old Rosie at 7.3%. It did however overpower Bulmers’ and Merry down at 6% ABV.

The strength, price and quantity in combination appeared judicial which complemented it’s uniform labelling and bottle design.

In terms of my expectations then, the rich and complex taste announced with dryness as a descriptor left carbonation, sweetness and acidity levels to the imagination. On bottle inspection, the noticeable white froth did indicate some fizz; Perhaps unusual for a full dry but we shall see.

Based on my knowledge of Herefordshire ciders and my only other review of a Henney’s cider… More specifically the vintage still cider of 2015, I was not expecting much sweetness, acidity, flavour or full bodiedness for that matter since this was a bit of a let down. This did however do medium dryness well with a smooth and warming aftertaste. It didn’t seem to have much to boast about however so I was hoping this 2016 drink would have a better outlook.

Smell
On opening, a reasonable fizz was apparent which was accompanied by a generous head for a cider which provided a sea of white. The scent was fresh and smooth with a hint of acidity. It was not overpowering or strong and actually rather subtle and pleasant.

The smell was described on the bottle as rich and complex. Perhaps the lack of strength and simplicity of it’s freshness noted, went against this description.

Taste

On the first sip the flavour was not noticeably fizzy as expected. It did possess a rather pleasant appley flavour though, which was not artificial. As for body, the cider was certainly not full bodied but a good medium without wateriness. It was a little bitter on the aftertaste yet not quite sweet enough to balance. The fruitiness did make up for this a little though. Where was the expected warmth ?? No real dryness was apparent either which a bit of a let down. The main positives were a natural fruity flavour with a subtle yet noticeable acidity which provided a glorious tang.

The taste was described as rich and complex like the aroma. It certainly wasn’t complex and not hugely rich, so this was a slight letdown like the aroma.

Summary
Not a medium dry as described, going against Herefordshire cider tradition. Not especially fizzy, tasty, full bodied or warming. Subtle yet pleasant acidity but lacking in sweetness.

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