Orchard view Apple cider ” Natural taste and tang, Yet lacking anything special to promote the brand”. (7/10)

The Good

” Charming natural apple flavour”.
” Good Apple sweetness”.
” Eye catching branding with clear message”.
” Nice tang on aftertaste”.

The Bad

” No flowers, or bittersweet apples in the aroma as promised”.
” No dryness detectable as promised”.
” Limited acidity in flavour”.
” Carbonation too subtle”.
” Watery mouthfeel”.
” No complexity of flavour”.
” Written waffle on bottle”.
” Expensive !!”.
” Not 100% practical”.
” Developing a sickly aftertaste”.

Packaging

Having caught my eye, after a slightly tough workday on Friday the 13th of all days, I invested £1.67 at Waitrose for an on-offer bottled cider known as Orchard view Apple cider. The cider is rather weak at 4.5% ABV, much like many Thatchers cans. The bottle provides 500ml, so 2.3 units. For the Governments limit you’d need 2, making £3.34 a rather steep price-tag, for a regular drink.

Despite limited practicality, It caught my eye, since recently I have targeted ciders from well known makers I know and trust.

This bucks that trend… Using apples from orchards in Kent, and being produced at the 1727 est. oldest family cider maker “Aspalls”, this drink represents a collaboration between the oldest brewer and family cider maker. Based at the Sun Inn, Faversham, in Kent, resides Shepherd Neame. A name given to the brewer that began in 1698, situated with a picturesque view over a lady named Mrs Gillows’ orchards.

Hence the ciders name… Orchard view …

Whilst this view appears absent nowadays, Orchard view does have a member of the Neame family as chief executive …. Jonathan. Both Aspalls and Shepherd Neame affirm their skills have been combined to produce the drink. Making the all important USP clear. After producing at Aspalls, the bottling stage occurs in Kent.

What the bottle does well, is providing a picture of nature in high clarity, with an almost stick figure, Apple tree image, centrepiece at the front. The surround, being dull green and off-white, draws attention to the bright red apples depicted, and the Aspalls’ trademark name that guides your eyes to the collaboration descriptive text. This branding entices you in, and teases you with a little worm of the website story.

It doesn’t give too much away, so in my opinion is a greatly packaged product which seems pleasantly understated. The rear, whilst a little text heavy, provides both a backstory and some detailed tasting notes. Both of which were highly useful to me, when writing this review. Sadly, the story of cider is often forgotten on commercial bottles, but gladly it’s kept here.

Kentish apples are mentioned on the bottle without named varieties, yet online, reels off a mammoth list of ten varieties used. A few of these I recognise as eating apples, so are clearly sweet in taste. Whilst the tasting notes are unnecessarily waffley and ostentatious, they point out expectations for a sweet creamy taste, dry Appley aftertaste and light carbonation.

The front of the bottle clarifies medium dryness, and “sparkling” adds further emphasis on these expectations. In summary, a lightly carbonated, naturally tasting, medium dry, and pleasantly sweet cider will be expected when sampling. As for tang, that will have to surprise me … Or not, as the case may be.

Unusually, it also specifies it’s aroma as floral and bittersweet Apple; Despite announcing a sweet flavour, and no floral element on the taste. Whilst I am sceptical, these traits will all be judged.

Smell

A nice smooth, natural aroma emerged, much like that of a weak Merry-down, hinting of some acidity. There was nothing artificial or potent about it though, which gave a pleasant introduction to the drink. Despite very limited bubbles, the smell lasted well on subsequent inhalations, yet consistently faded to not linger on my nose. I didn’t detect any floral notes or bittersweet apples as expected however, which was clearly likely considering my scepticism, yet still disappointing once promised.

Taste

On first sip, carbonation was extremely subtle, and the mouthfeel a touch watery. Whilst a certain level of acidity was detectable, it was a bit weak. The Apple was clearly present on the flavour, as a charming natural sensation, which was as delightful as most Aspalls drinks. The promise of Kentish apples didn’t provide anything different though. On a few more sips, the aftertaste with a pleasant tang emerged, which could only be positive for the drink.
The mouthfeel continued watery, and dryness was still totally absent. The non-sickly taste, whilst not screaming sugar, was clearly sweet apple, thus confirming good levels of natural sweetness. By the end of the bottle, the aftertaste was dominated by a sickly sweetness not present earlier. With no unique taste, woody element or dryness, there wasn’t much unique about the drink. Pleasant natural Appley taste with a good tang afterwards, but a little lacking overall.

What should I expect for Friday the 13th though …

Summary

A well-branded, pricey cider, with pleasant Appley taste, plus a little after-tang. Smell was pleasant, yet not as promised and carbonation, acidity, and dryness were all lacking. Sweetness levels in fruity notes, were good for a while though.

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