Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder ( Red label) review “Great acidity and mouthfeel, but lacking in dryness, value, or anything unique” – (7.5/10).

The Good

– Great history and bottle design.
– Subtle balance done well.
– Punchy tang with light carbonation.
– Some dryness.
– Ideal mouthfeel and not watery.
– Pleasant smell.

The Bad

– Pricey.
– Not sweet enough.
– Not a dry cider as promised.
– Not particularly unique or complex.
– Not as practical as the organic version.

Packaging

A few centuries after Clement Chevallier converted his mid-suffolk, Aspall hamlet estate ready for Cyder making in 1728, this current bottle of Aspall suffolk Draught Cyder emerged. It was produced as an ode to Aspalls’ lengthy tradition to celebrate 8th generation direct descendants of Clement himself.

The bottle details these individuals as Barry and Henry Chevallier, aswell as a precise date for celebration. This marks the milestone of 275 years since Cyder making began at the factory. Making this Red label Cyder product about 15 years old.

Just because it is intended to celebrate a great achievement though, doesn’t make it a good quality Cyder. Looking at the drink itself, it is clear that the tradition has been carried through in the bottles’ design though with a Champagne-style vessel, and a tapered summit.

In terms of practicality, I purchased it from Sainsbury’s in May 2018 for £1.90. This was only 10p different from the last traditional Aspalls’ bottle I bought and reviewed last year; The Organic version. That had a Green label, rather than the Red shown here. It was also stronger at 7% ABV.

Our Cyder here is just 5.5% and 500ml. This makes the product relatively expensive, since you’d need 2 bottles of 2.8 units each, to get you into or above the governments’ “do not regularly exceed” boundaries. This means a costly evening of £3.80. You’d also most probably be pretty tipsy at this stage too, since 5.6 units is a lot. 2.8 for just one though, doesn’t seem like much at all however, making the bottles quite impractical for consumption.
The Green label Organic bottle fared much better though, with just the one, providing a sufficient 3.5 units , due to it’s higher 7% ABV. This also scored an impressive overall rating of 8/10 meaning the pressure is on here.

So enough background, let’s get to the liquid itself …

Issues with the Organic Aspalls were a lack of sweetness or dryness. This Draught Cyder though, claims to be dry and racy. I Interpret racy as full of flavour, so would expect sweetness from that bottle descriptor. It also claims to be fruity so let’s hope it has a pleasant Appley taste like the Organic version. Based on previously sampled Aspalls, I’d also expect light carbonation and reasonable mouthfeel, without too much wateriness. Finally, the organic had a good tang so I am certainly hoping for some level of acidity here.

Let’s hope this drink is sweet, wholesome, natural, tangy, lightly-carbonated, dry and complex then.

Smell

The scent was fairly confident and rather acidic. Almost resembling that of a Merry-down, East Sussex, cider. Although it died away fairly quickly, it was memorable. It created a lasting positive impression on the nose. On subsequent inhalations, it remained, suggesting a strong and confident drink. It convinced me well to take that all important, first sip.

Taste

There was nothing articifial about the flavour, as it was smooth and pleasant. No harsh sugary notes were apparent, yet an Appley sweetness resonated through. There was instantly, a noticeable tang as the smell suggested, which woke up my taste buds quickly. This hinted of positive acidity levels, much like the Organic (Green label) Aspalls did. On a subsequent sip, after swilling around my thirsty mouth, limited bubbles emerged, suggesting light carbonation. Carbonation level was sufficient however, to favour the acidity, which was pleasant.

The sweetness level was a little too subtle for my taste though, in much the same way as it was in the Organic. No fuzzy feeling, as should be expected from a full dry, was apparent either. The Dryness, whilst noticeable, was rather insufficient in strength. Much like in the Organic. The freshness of the apple was unique, but didn’t provide much complexity of flavour.
An aftertaste or subtle extra layer would have helped this.
It was also rather pricey for what the drink was, and not as distinctive as I was expecting. Mouthfeel was perfect however, since it was just thick enough, yet not syrupy. Dryness and sweetness were noticeable, yet a little insufficient. This meant that light carbonation, balance, and acidy tang, were the main positives to the drink.

Summary

Naturally tangy and lightly sparkling. not especially dry, sweet, or distinctive for the money though. I’d rather buy an Organic Aspalls.

 

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