Orchard pig – The Charmer review – ” Watery, well-balanced, and naturally weak tasting”. (7.5/10).

The Good

” Informative and consistent bottle branding”.
“Practical and Affordable”.
” Pleasant woody complexity”.
” Natural smooth and fruity taste”.
” All rounder”.
” Good subtle dryness”.
” Light carbonation as promised”.
” Pleasant fruity smell”.
” Not sickly sweet”.

The Bad

” No aftertaste”.
” Website claims were unnecessary and untrue”.
” Lack of unique identity”.
” Tang promised, very weak”.
” Watery, not medium, mouthfeel”.
“No company history on bottle”.
” Boastful website description”.
” Not available in all mainstream supermarkets”.

Packaging

Welcome to the 3rd week of my Orchard pig reviews. This time it’s ” The Charmer”. Something that is charming, is often appreciated due to having good qualities . I’d expect this drink in a way to be nice, but nothing too surprising. The bottle too, seems to support this, with a rather plain orange-brown colour to the label.

With The Reveller last week, suggesting of a lime twist which wasn’t there, I was a little unhappy to find this cider claiming of a zesty twist also. It describes this as a citrus tang on the bottle. Citrus, doesn’t suggest tang from apples, which is a slight shame. I may have to ban supermarkets from stocking such fruity ciders, so that the true apple can remain strong. The likes of Elk warning stubby cans, and the familiar bottles of Kopparberg mixed fruits, have lead me to be selective in the pure apple ciders I choose.

Let’s hope these West Bradley orchard apples get to sing their praises here. Andrew and Neil, the so called founders of Orchard pig in 2004, claim the brand USP to be the very orchards that these Somerset apples are grown in. This leads me to expect a similar character to other Somerset ciders.

On bottle inspection, the pig logo, orange colour, and labels appear softer than the Reveller due to lesser colour contrast. The bottle specifies medium again, hinting of mouthfeel, not dryness in my mind. Still a little confusing though …

As for Alcohol, 6% ABV is expressed for the 500ml, 3 unit bottle of The Charmer. The Reveller was 4.5%, yet the Orchard pigs’ king, The Hog-father, was 7.4 ! The Charmer reviewed here, is middling then… Helping you achieve the governments limit with just a single bottle setting you back £2.09 at Waitrose. Unfortunately, my local Sainsbury’s are not stocking it. This is a shame, since both Reveller cans, and The Hog-father, were both bought from there at a slightly cheaper price. With just the one bottle to purchase however, things aren’t too dear and quite practical for safe consumption of The Charmer.

As for taste, citrus tang and medium mouthfeel have already been mentioned. The bottle adds to this with “more apples, less bubbles”, implying light carbonation. I’d expect more dryness than the Reveller, purely due to greater alcohol concentration, yet not enough to consider it a medium-dry drink. The bottle supports this idea with “dry apple smell”, which I’d hope to be tangy, and not overly sweet. As for taste, the bottle adds that there is a crisp finish, hinting of bold natural sweetness, described as “mellow”. Not the word I’d have used for something dramatic, but hopefully this doesn’t mean the sweetness is sickly or too muted.

The website detracts a little from the bottle, stating how the citrus hit may appeal to beer lovers or fans of a particularly pretentious beverage dubbed Cabernet led Boudeaux. This puts me off a little since I’m not a fan of wine or beer. It is dangerous to sing the praises of other drinks when you have your own to sell. Besides this, it also adds the expectation for floral summery flavours, which again seems almost impossible to pin down. Perhaps that means strawberry, or possibly other fruits or edible flowers.

All seems a bit far fetched really…
So back to reality.

The website fortunately clarifies the mellow sweetness meaning a little, by stating it lingers on the tongue. This suggests it is sweetness which doesn’t fade quickly after taking a sip, revealing the meaning of “mellow”. It would have been nice though, to not need that extra research. The bottle suggests overall this is a bit of a character, so perhaps a good all rounder. I think tasting will be necessary to investigate though. Purely for review purposes of course.

To summarise, I have expectations for confident tang, distinctive and natural smell and taste with some complexity, light carbonation, slightly dry, medium mouthfeel, good level of natural sweetness, with the hope of less sickliness than in the Reveller. Some edible flowers would be nice too …

Smell

The scent was weak, yet natural, hinting of slight acidity. It wasn’t confident as described, and I couldn’t detect any indication of dryness except a lack of overpowering sickly apple. This indicates more bitter varieties, rather than the often-sickly, eating apples. The smell was ephemeral, yet was apparent on subsequent breaths.

Taste

The first sip provided a slightly watery mouthfeel. One that was smoothly enriched with pleasant woody tones. This appeased my palette initially, with the all-important, anticipated complexity. On swilling, you could get some element of carbonation which was positive, and this was light, as specified on the bottle and website. The flavour continued as naturally refreshing, and rather soothing on the taste buds.
It was quite difficult to detect many of the important elements of a good cider though. The sweetness was weak, and was marred by subtle fruitiness. The acidity wasn’t clearly apparent even after multiple glugs, and the dryness, whilst detectable, wasn’t notable. It should be given credit though, for doing what it says on the tin…
Fruity sweetness, some element of dryness, light carbonation, and good, well-rounded complexity. Mouthfeel being watery, and a lack of any real identity or USP restricted my score to very mediocre. It was good, just nothing special.

Summary

A pleasantly complex, woody cider with a subtle watery body. Well-balanced weakness in acidity levels , uniqueness, and fruity/sweet flavour. Nice, but weak, smell and taste… An affordable and practical bottle though.

Sources

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/charmer
https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Citrus+fruits

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