Apple cider – Low alcohol by Waitrose review – “Lightly-carbonated, low-alcohol drink with character. Hidden with too much sweetness, but could be a standard strength cider” – (8.5/10).

The Good

“Great light carbonation”.
“Noticeable natural sweetness”.
“Pleasant light tang”.
“Natural flavour”.
“Medium mouthfeel”.
“Branding colours and message strong”.
“Smooth flavour”.
“Good value”.
“Characterful, natural smell”.
“Sweet and fruity aftertaste”.

The Bad

“Mouthfeel a tad thin”.
“Dryness absent, but promised”.
“Too sweet”.
“Tang slightly weak”.
” Hidden woodiness and character”.

Packaging

Last week, I ventured into uncharted territory reviewing my first low-alcohol cider. Sainsbury’s own brand … This ended with a disappointing (6/10).
I am optimistic here though, since Waitrose low-alcohol cider, achieved a far superior rating from Drinkwisewales. This scored 4/5, impressing the Drinkwisewales team. Hence their response of:
“Overall, it’s as good as most of the big-brand ciders you’ll find on tap, or in cans.” Before practicality, price and expectations, let us recap what “Low alcohol” means in the cider world.

Low-alcohol ciders appear to have crept onto supermarket shelves relatively recently. First launched in 1994, the flagship product of 0.5% Stowford press LA, is actually older than me. The explosion in popularity of keeping healthy, and trendy food and drinks, by ever more aware consumers, appears to explain the recent boom in demand for low-alcohol products.

Perhaps this answers the question of:
“Why can low-alcohol products now, be readily seen in supermarkets stores for the first time in the last 20 years ?”.
Whilst not all stores stock these products; Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons have taken the plunge with their own branded products.

The Waitrose low-alcohol cider was priced at £1.19 per bottle. I acquired this from Waitrose surprisingly. Sainsbury’s cost £1.10, so this was slightly pricier. Still not expensive in terms of bottle price compared to typical ABV versions though. I’d expect 2 would be good again, so £2.20 “all in” was the cost. I don’t rate practicality for low- alcohol drinks, due to such drinking falling well short of safe limits. Still, this drink seems good value.

As for characteristics, the bottle suggests less than 1% alcohol guaranteed, and just 0.5 units provided for the 500ml. Bottle design is far superior to the Sainsbury’s version, with a simplified colour palette. This features black font on white label, with subtle green apple logo. The subtlety is consistent, so works well. On bottle rear, it’s immediately better than Sainsbury’s, due to a backstory stating use of bittersweet Herefordshire apples. This in itself is typically good for providing a good tasting cider, which this drink promises to be.

Medium-dryness is announced on bottle front, with maturation in old oak vats specified on the rear, along with full flavour. I’d expect a full-bodied drink with woody character. The rear announces “Lightly sparkling” for expectations. I’d hope for some tang, whilst unspecified, with medium-dryness, which is. This should be supported with good levels of natural sweetness, to reflect the luscious Herefordshire countryside.

Smell

The natural and smooth smell faded fairly quickly. It lasted for just a short time on each inhalation. The smell was slightly tangy, yet smooth with woody notes. Considerable head quickly arose. Far superior to the spectacle of Sainsbury’s.

Taste

The taste began as a nicely sweet, and significantly tangy drink. One lacking the dryness claimed on the bottle though. Carbonation was light, and the drink was rather smooth. It wasn’t too thick however, but possessed a very nice medium-mouthfeel. Acidity balanced the sweetness level very well. Sweetness wasn’t sickly either. There wasn’t woodiness, and character was a little lacking though.
The taste continued very pleasantly in a balanced and fulfilling way. The lack of wateriness, held good levels of apple. A slightly woody element could be sensed, but this was a trace as best.

The aftertaste was also pleasant, leaving a subtle, yet sweet and fruity tang. One that lingered for some time. It was a shame dryness was lacking here, as it would have given far more character, to the experience. The experience was very smooth though.
With slightly thicker mouthfeel, and less sweetness, the woodiness, could have come through more in the flavour. Good low-booze cider though … hoorah !!

Summary

A solid, lightly-carbonated cider, with character hidden by too much sweetness. Could be a 5% drink though with this taste profile !

Sources

https://www.drinkwisewales.org.uk/booze-free-reviews/ciders/#Waitrose

Product

My West Country ciders and Johnny Depp ebook

Drink:

Waitrose Low Alcohol Cider 500ml

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