Orchard Thieves cider review ” Well-balanced, sweet yet tangy, still-water” (7.5/10).

The Good

” Pleasant subtle tang”.
” Sharp aftertaste”.
” Smooth flavour”.
” Slight bitterness”.
” Sweetness balanced with sharpness”.
” Practical”.
” Pleasant scent as promised”.
” Some uniqueness”.

The Bad

” Not woody or highly distinctive”.
” Watery mouthfeel”.
” Virtually no carbonation”.
” No dryness”.
” Rather pricey”.
” Poor branding with no history detailed”.

Packaging

From the home of UK cider production in Herefordshire, a product rattles off the production line of H.P Bulmer. This is part of the Heineken corporate giant empire which apparently provides 125 years of experience. A far cry from the Organic feel of the region. The packaging doesn’t make things any brighter. With a dull, off-white stubby, black text detailing the name, and basic depiction of a fox which is barely symbolic of anything, it seems more something to sell, rather than an inspired product.

The can blurb didn’t add much. With expectations for a “Delicious” and “Refreshing” beverage, it could be on any cider bottle or can in the world. The murmuring of a “hearty aroma”, raises more questions, rather than clarifying any expectations. This just sets the drink up for a fall. The website however, does affirm “Tart” Apple varieties, and a “Smooth” nature providing some expectations. Dryness or sweetness level remains unclear however. The website affirms the brands nature of existing under different names, using skills and fruits from New Zealand, aswell as the UK. Perhaps the “Sly” nature of the fox, helps alleviate some disappointment from no-named apple varieties appearing on can or website. The brand suggests great importance of stealing the best apples though, so it would be good to know what they are ?

Why a fox is chosen, with the story of stealing delicious apples just seems bizarre. Whilst I could imagine the Orchard pig notion of hunting for good quality truffles, the Fantastic Mr fox story doesn’t exactly shout apple, but rather plump poultry. Aren’t foxes carnivorous anyway ?

Moving on from the branding, thinking practically. 1.5 units of 4.5% ABV cider is handy. Drinking 2 cans for 3 units sounds sensible, and is in agreement with the “Do not regularly exceed limit”, as set by the government.
The cost at £3 for 2 cans makes this a fairly pricey experience. Whilst much better than the £4.38 of last weeks Cidersmith’s Bristol Draught, it still dwarfs the price for Henney’s Dry and Aspalls Premier Cru. With the best of these ratings topping 9.25/10, expectations at this price-point are very high.

I remain optimistic however, and open minded, in the hope this drink instills confidence in weaker ciders.
Smell

The smell was natural, yet a little watery. It emerged as a short lasting scent from a not especially, fizzy can. A certain level of sweetness could be detected straight away yet nothing especially characterful was apparent.

Taste

Carbonation level was very light and barely noticeable. The drink was slightly tangy, yet was certainly not medium or full-bodied. The drink seemed highly watery from the first sip. The tang was well balanced with sweetness however, which emerged as the scent suggested, quickly and pleasantly. The cider was very smooth in flavour, yet possessed a slightly sour aftertaste. This I found quite distinctive and pleasant. There was absolutely no dryness, but bitterness was present after the main flavour body subsided. This gave the flavours’ character, some level of sophistication. Bitterness also lifted the aftertaste. Sweetness was sickly at times though.
Besides a little weakness in sweetness, carbonation and dryness, the tang balance with sweetness, with subtle bitter notes on the aftertaste, establishes this drinks’ identity, as fairly good cider.

Summary

A rather tangy and pleasantly sharp, yet smooth, drink. One that other than this, doesn’t provide much uniqueness, dryness or fruity taste. Sickly sweetness does ebb and flow through the watery mouthfeel, which could be thicker. Carbonation is virtually absent. Balance is good though, with sweetness and tang competing well. From the branding, a pleasant surprise.

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