Cidersmiths Bristol Draught review ” Lightly carbonated, sweet drink without balance or character”. – (5.5/10)
” Good bottle colour scheme”.
” Light carbonation as promised”.
” Natural flavour”.
” Sufficient sweetness in aftertaste”.
” Lack of tang”.
” Branding a bit confused”.
” Bitter aftertaste becoming sickly sweet”.
” No dryness”.
” No USP or character”.
The bottle clearly stands out, making a statement from the word go. The monochromatic colour scheme is rather unique, and the lack of shine from the label, keeps it stealthy and subtle. On closer inspection, there are a few aspects I don’t especially like. There’s a random white leaf situated atop the cidersmiths ‘C’,. The cidersmiths ‘S’ is underlined.
The tree emblem while clear and symbolic, has a hardly readable white tag stating “not from concentrate”. Stating what a drink isn’t, clearly doesn’t show a positive message, nor does it actually supply any useful information. Something which should take precedent on the front label.
On the side, this mystery was cleared up by stating only fresh pressed English apples used, rather than concentrate, hence the front message. It also details the drink as a Somerset cider. The location in my mind seems far more important than “not from concentrate”, so the branding appears a little fussy and ill-considered. That said, the colour scheme lead me to spot and purchase it, so not all bad.
The name of the drink is a little odd since “Bristol Draught”, doesn’t scream Somerset. In fact, geographically speaking, Bristol counts as it’s own region, not one technically part of any county, including Somerset. The drink however, is made in Taunton, Somerset. A region sandwiched between the Quantock and Blackdown hills which are both classed as areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Along with the message, over 200 years cider making experience, I’d hope the company has produced a good product here, using “traditional methods”.
As for the blurb, no other information was added to this, leaving things a little story sparse. I therefore raided a website for further answers. It detailed the founders of the company.
Will Austin and friend, Phil Warren established the company, to create a small scale production drink, one possessing more flavour and enjoyment than mass produced ciders. No year of establishment was specified, making me dubious about the 200 years experience mentioned on the bottle. I’d suggest the company is far newer than this. Cidersmiths was established in 2014. This makes it only 4 years old.
Light carbonation, and full flavour are implied by the website. Delving deeper, balance and limited sweetness are mentioned for this product, due to a taste preference in Bristol, Stated on the website as the Cider capital of the UK. As for acidity level and dryness, I shall go in blind, with a slight inclination to expect at least moderate levels of both, due to nearby cider locations providing this. I’d hope for some uniqueness due to the company mission to ” make cider interesting” by “making interesting cider”. A slogan they should place on the bottle …
One bottle costs £2.19 from Waitrose, and I had not previously noticed the drink in any other supermarket. This is rather pricey considering the low 5.5% ABV for 500ml. This sets the drinks at a slightly low, 2.8 units, making things impractical for a healthy or cheap consumption level. Whilst specifying on the label the Governments “Do not regularly exceed” range, it fails to provide enough alcohol to reach this level, tempting you into a second bottle, which would almost double the safe level. Bit frustrating really… Rather costly also, at £4.38 to reach this limit.
For less than half this cost, you could reach the limit with Henney’s “dry”, and the rather delicious Aspall’s (blue) Premier Cru was also hugely cheaper, resulting in some seriously high requirements here to prove good value for money.
The smell lasted for some time, and was very smooth. It was rather natural and fresh, yet possessed a pleasant tang, suggesting some level of acidity to come in flavour. Limited fizz was present, suggesting modest carbonation expectations may be accurate. After a while this smell weakened to nothing.
On pouring, some carbonation was evident. It was lightly sparkling as suggested, which was good. Some level of sweetness was apparent from the word go, although this was mostly present at the tail end of a weak fruity taste. The drink was certainly natural, hinting of Orchard view.
It appeared a little watery in mouthfeel, lacking any real body or depth of flavour. Whilst smooth, no balance or bite was present from the apples. Dryness was totally lacking, and a subtle bitterness left the aftertaste a little unpleasant.
The lack of tang, or any real flavour, made the sweetness rise to a more sickly tone, as drinking progressed.
A barely pleasant experience provided by a little natural sweetness with carbonation. This sweetness became a little sickly, but everything else was too weak to provide an enjoyable drinking experience.
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Without a cold, and with a different product from the range, perhaps the company may appeal more in future.