Stan’s Thatchers Leaf Twister cider review (7/10) “Good branding, with sparkling natural fruit, yet no aftertaste, tang or uniqueness”.

The Good

” Lovely eye-catching can”.
“Good, well-labelled backstory”.
“Strong branding”.
“Practical”.
” Clear USP”.
” Pleasant carbonation”.
” Natural, fruity flavour”.

The Bad
” Taste not living up to branding”.
” No complexity, flavour development, or woodiness”.
” No dryness”.
” Medium, not full-bodied as promised”.
” No tang at all”.
” Non-original apple selection”.
“Pricey”.
Packaging

From just the can, it is clear to establish most taste expectations for the Leaf Twister with ease…

“Full-bodied” and “Sparkling” are visible from the word go, on the forefront of the can. Also, the descriptor “softly rounded” was used in the drink, which features Somerset apples such as Somerset Redstreak and Dabinett. I feel, it is good to name the varieties used, and my recently reviewed Orchard view cider from Kent didn’t, so this bodes well here.
With Dabinett apples providing some level of Tannins, I’d expect an element of dryness. Leaf Twister, is apparently “Bursting” with flavour of apples, leading me to expect a natural sweetness.

The drink history description on the can is brief and concise, yet is clearly noticeable, with a white and green colour font, on hardwood background texture. This keeps you reading till the end, and supports the header which specifies the cider as Stan’s recipe. It is good to have the question answered as to who Stan is, even before exploring the internet. The wood on the can leads me to hope for the complex trait of woodiness in the taste though … For which Twisted tree vintage remains my Gold standard.

Stan is described as a Somerset cider crafter based at Myrtle farm. Something Thatchers hasn’t pushed on the branding before. It speaks of how local farmers would ask Stan to use their own apples, to make them good cider. This is a rather quaint tale. This anecdote seems slightly old-hat though, considering the scale of the Thatchers company nowadays. (The use of local apple), USP shines through however, so I am hopeful for a natural, almost small scale production style drink, which remains fruity. All without fortification with refined sugar or sweeteners.
Thatchers as a company was established in 1904 by William Thatcher. According to the official Thatchers site, Stanley Thatcher, this drinks “creator”, was born in 1910, and was involved in marketing Thatchers products to pubs. This shows some background and cites the farm of original production also at Myrtle farm… the place where this drink was produced …

Clearly Thatchers has plenty of experience with drink crafting, so I am hopeful of these expectations being met. The Apple selection whilst local, is rather predictable however, so not particularly adventurous. The Old Rascal seems similar, not only in it’s Apple varieties used, but also in the characteristics I am hoping for here. This illustrates my point of lack of variety, by showing other drinks also use these same varieties, without bragging about it as a USP.

Despite this, the Old Rascal was a nice drink … For example, it worked well for both carbonation and natural fruitiness along with full-bodied mouthfeel, only letdown by a lack of tang and dryness. With these varieties of apple used, things look promising here.

In terms of Leaf twisters’ practicality, things also seem good. With 1.7 units per can, 2 cans would give you 3.4 units. A tally comfortably within the Governments ” Do not regularly exceed” range. At 5% ABV, it fits in well with most Thatchers canned drinks. Thatchers Old Rascal at just 4.5% is an alike example …

For £1.88, you could achieve the limit with Thatchers Gold, whereas this would set you back £3 from Sainsbury’s for the same alcohol level. This does benefit from named Apple varieties though, so doesn’t keep you Guessing like Thatchers Gold did. It still seems pricey though, compared to most other ciders I’ve recently reviewed. A 330ml can, seems a little small vessel for a drink of just 5%, but does look rather neat and cool.

A couple of minor bugbears about Leaf Twister, is firstly that it has a slightly strange, unmemorable name. The reason behind this, isn’t explained on the Thatchers site or can, suggesting you’d need some sort of research savvy, to find out the significance of an apple tree with twisted leaves. Why not just Stan’s Somerset Cyder or something ? … The USP is relating to Apple varieties used, and their origin near the farm … and why should the leaves of these trees even matter ?

The second, is the “Softly rounded” descriptor used on both website and can. Does this mean good all round ?, or not really very well rounded at all ? Again it seems a little ambiguous…

Overall though, both branding and practicality seem good here. With a quick reminder of my expectations for a Full-bodied, Well-carbonated, Naturally sweet, Medium-dry drink, all that remains is to see if these are true…. Cheers !!
Smell

The scent was smooth and non-acidic. It seemed natural, and faded into a haze of fruity sweetness. I was pleasantly surprised, yet not overwhelmed. It didn’t possess too much character, but some key elements reassured me that the taste may be as expected.

Taste

The taste was very Appley. It emerged as a sweet but natural flavour from the first sip. Carbonation was noticeable, yet nothing overpowering. The body wasn’t full, yet the drink didn’t seem watery, due to the strong flavour. This meant the mouthfeel could be summarised as medium. No acidity or tang emerged throughout drinking, which was disappointing. The dryness I was hoping for, just wasn’t there. There also wasn’t any complexity during drinking, so none of the wood that the branding portrayed, was apparent. As for uniqueness, the freshness of the Apple reminded me of many Aspalls products, yet didn’t develop anything beyond that basic taste. No aftertaste existed really, except a little moisture, to confirm the absence of any dryness I was hoping for.

It almost seems like a naturally tasting, fizzy Apple juice, without anything else to it. As a drink, I cannot say it was understated, as the flavour wasn’t subtle. I also cannot summarise the experience as unique, since it resembled the natural, fruity, flavour of aspalls. With pleasant carbonation, no acidity, mediocre mouthfeel, and no dryness, the only other positive was how natural the apples tasted. Not many ciders have no aftertaste, but this did … Bit of a shame for a pricey drink overall…

Summary

A subtly sparkling, fruity cider, with natural flavour, but no depth. Good carbonation, flavour and sweetness. Not full-bodied, no aftertaste, no dryness, no acidity, no complexity.

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