Curious Apple cider review ( Good at being naturally and tangy, a full flavour with medium mouthfeel lifts it beyond numerous weaknesses”) – (8.0/10).

The Good

” Practical”.
” Light carbonation as promised”.
” Strong branding”.
” Great natural acidity”.
” Not overpowering”.
” Non-sickly aftertaste”.
” Pleasant smell”.
” Full-flavoured”.
” Ideal medium mouthfeel”.

The Bad

” No sweetness”.
” No elderflower or wood as boasted”.
” No dryness”.
” Carbonation too subtle”.
” Expensive”.
” Rubens apple stifled”.
” One dimensional”.
” Limited USP”.

Packaging

North of Hastings in the Ashford district of Kent, lies a town called Tenterden. This includes a place named Small Hythe which is the home of Chapel Down Winery; The proud producer of Curious Apple cider. Whilst the “Curious” range is now made in Ashford, the parent company lies in an ideal location with abundant apple orchards, situated in Kent. This county is commonly referred to as the “Garden of England”. A title adopted due to the plethora of over 180 gardens found there ,many of which are open for tours. This should mean there are plenty of freshly grown apple varieties available therefore.

The story of Curious Apple began with a pioneering idea from a man named Josh Donaghay-Spire.

For some time, Josh has been producing wines in the leading English wine producer “Chapel Down Winery”. This title has helped establish prestige in the wine produced amongst buyers, resulting in great respect and sales. Chapel Down Winery not only supplies the London symphony orchestra, but has also supplied the prime ministers’ residence at Number 10.

It uses the same technique typically used to produce champagnes, and only employs locally grown fruit. This all sounds like great news for a popular product, but how about cider then ?

The “Curious” range is part of the Chapel Down Winery, which produces ciders and beers.
This began to combine cider types, by using :
1) basic processes with pure apple juice, without concentrates and sweeteners. This could be termed artisan …
With 2) Those who use concentrates and sweeteners but more complex technological processing, termed commercial ciders.

Ciders made here are claimed to be produced using advanced technology but still maintain product quality, as could be seen in an artisan product. Whether this is true, remains to be seen. I am slightly dubious, due to it’s history, one predominantly focussed on other drinks. Whether 17 years of experience from a company established in 2001 is enough, remains to be seen. The many accolades and distinctive brand message, do Instill some faith though.

As for the product, “gentle carbonation” is mentioned on the website. From the rural location I’d also expect some nature apparent in the apples, and sweetness from the flavour. The bottle adds an expectation for sweetness, by suggesting fully ripened Rubens and Bramley apples have been used. It asserts “made in Kent”, to rightfully promote it’s localness. It is good to have varieties chosen named also.

The key features of uniqueness mentioned, are that of fermented with “wine” yeast. That is consistent with the branding from a wine producer, and it’s slender wine-style bottle design. Also, “hints of elderflower and citrus”, suggest some different elements in flavour. Whilst I’m not typically a fan of altered apple ciders in general, I’m heading in, with an open mind. I do feel that the apple should be “star of the show”, though. The Rubens used is a dessert apple, similar to that of Gala, suggesting reasonable sweetness levels. By contrast, the green cooking Bramley apple, should provide a degree of tang and sharpness to balance. This apple combination should provide a non-sickly experience. One with plenty of character. As for dryness or woodiness, I shall go in without expectation.

Whilst lack of a backstory is present, the unique elements and recent company establishment, appear to excuse this. The bottle design is eye-catching, and consistent with a distinctive brand. To this end, it shows off a question mark as it’s icon. This supports the individuality and wine producer influence, whilst showing green on fonts, perhaps indicative of the specified “Green apple aroma”, scripted on the bottle.

The price was £1.99 from Waitrose, making it expensive. Identical in price to Sxollie, reviewed last week. For practicality, 1.7 units at 5.2% ABV, at 330ml per bottle, things seem positive. While 2 would be required to reach the Governments “Do not regularly exceed range”, I prefer 2 where affordable anyway, for a pleasant evening. Let’s hope the drink lives up to it’s claims and premium price-tag.

Smell

The scent wasn’t overpowering, yet notably tangy from some acidity. It resembled a weaker Merrydown. It didn’t last long however, suggesting carbonation was rather subtle.

Taste

From first sip, a rather tangy taste was present. Carbonation was subtle, as the brand suggested, which according to Orchard pig, helps maximise flavour. In my mind this was too weak though. The sweetness to match the tang wasn’t noticeable, perhaps due to the pomposity of the Bramley’s cooking Apple, living up to it’s reputation for tart flavour. The Rubens eating apple which I suspected would provide this sweetness was overpowered then, perhaps lending the drink towards a mono-varietal experience with one dimension only. Lacking balance and sweetness, aswell as carbonation to sum up.

Whether the wine yeast contributed to this acidity level, I’m unsure, but a product created by a company originally only producing wine, would suggest a tangy nature.
Whilst this tang was natural, no real sweetness was there to balance, resulting in a rather one dimensional drinking experience. No woodiness or extra character became apparent in the taste. Dryness was also totally absent. Whilst these elements weren’t claimed maybe they’d have improved the product.

The aftertaste was rather pleasant, experienced as a fading tart apple. It didn’t become sickly, as I’d feared. The Bramley’s tang was clearly star of the show, but perhaps this did show off the best of Kentish apples. While carbonation seemed too subtle for me, sweetness appeared lacking, and dryness totally absent, the natural tang of Kent apples did give the brand some distinction. Certainly no floral element was apparent either, inconsistent with the bottles assertion of “Elderflower”.

The mouthfeel was almost perfect medium. No syrup was present on impression, and water couldn’t be detected. A full-flavoured experience could be clearly seen.

Summary

A naturally tangy, borderline still cider, with pleasant acidy aftertaste. Positive branding couldn’t disguise a lack of balance in sweetness, or other elements. Even by mentioning elderflower ? Mouthfeel did carry flavour well however.

Sources

https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/visit/information/kent-the-garden-of-england/
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/bramley-apple
https://www.chapeldown.com/beer/beer-and-cider/curious-apple
Www.orangepippin.com

Product
Curious Brew Apple Cider 5.2% (12 x 330ml) by Chapel Down

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