There’s nothing more festive than a Black fox Organic ? Or is there ? … Have a very (but not too), merry Christmas. Then make sure it was merry enough before new year 🙂

The Good

“Practical”.
“Quite competitive in price”.
“Interesting backstory and brand message”.
“Good bottle design”.
“Nice and tangy, natural smell”.
“Great, balanced sweetness”.
“Lovely woodiness from the word go”.
“Natural taste”.
“Lovely medium mouthfeel”.
“Good medium-dry as promised”.
“Consistent branding and taste”.
“Lasting balanced aftertaste”.
“Pleasant bitter element”.
“Interesting taste combination”.

The Bad

“Mouthfeel slightly thin”.
“Carbonation too light”.
“Acidity too weak”.
“Wood not mentioned on bottle”.

Packaging

The Bottle front was decorated in black and white. Labels, designs and fonts quickly established a quality looking product. As for source, Dunkertons was founded in Herefordshire. Until 2016, this was the site of pressing, bottling and fermenting. Even product sales were based locally, in the neighbouring county of Gloucestershire, specifically in the town of Cheltenham.

The emphasis on local, continues into the quirky backstory, with the Herefordshire orchard site of Pembridge. Traditions of story telling, were focused traditionally on village communities. In Herefordshire, farmland, woods and hedgerows are in abundance, allegedly, providing plenty of hiding places for the featured local and mysterious fox. This is supposedly seldom spotted by the locals, giving this “Black fox cider”, it’s name. With villages and local folklore stories being told here since medieval times, this is also consistent with the brand.

After 2016, the company moved to it’s current base in Gloucestershire, although this is still close to the home of the anecdote, so can therefore be excused. Let’s hope the founders son Julian who took over Dunkerton’s in 2014, doesn’t deviate too far from the brand message though.

The second brand emphasis, is on “Organic”, with a stamp detailing “Organic soil association”. A label Dunkerton’s has held since 1988, 8 years after the Dunkertons company was established by Julian’s parents (Ivor and Susie). With another label of “Organic is the future”, this products emphasis on nature, was further highlighted. Whilst the company is far newer, Dunkerton’s Black fox, reminded me of Aspall’s Organic Cyder (Green bottle), which also had a similar message. Black fox aims to respect traditional processes too.

The Aspall’s family had a member named Perronelle, who established this ” Organic soil association” movement in 1946. The (Green bottle) Aspall’s, was created in an organic way to honour this movement. Whilst Dunkertons don’t have the same influence on the movement, they clearly adhere to it’s guidelines, evidencing Organic credibility. With another label of “Organic is the future” on the bottles’ rear, the products emphasis on nature, is further highlighted.

Perhaps this idea, came out of the company founders , Ivor and Susie Dunkerton, wanting to explore nature more, having previously lived in urban London.

So what does Organic certification mean ?

According to the Organic soil association website, it refers to a business operating to the “highest standards of sustainability and integrity”, creating products traceable back to the farm. This is hugely favourable to the natural environment, and acts as a guarantee for product quality. With the “Organic soil association”, certification encompassing 70% of all organic product certification in the UK, this shows a reputable stamp guarantee.
Promoting selective consumer inclusion, on the Black fox bottle, “Organic”, is accompanied with “Gluten free”, “Vegetarian”, and “Vegan”. A combination rarely guaranteed in the cider world.

For Black fox, it’s 7% ABV per 500ml bottle, which works out at 3.5 units per bottle; Makes the drink perfectly practical. In this respect Black Fox Organic was mirrored perfectly by Aspall’s organic cider. This was 7% too, with 3.5 units and 500ml capacity. It was also stocked in Waitrose, like Black Fox. At £1.80, it was 49p cheaper than Black fox though, with that coming in at £2.29.
Whilst pricier than the Organic Aspall’s, Black fox was far cheaper than “Aspall’s On-Draught”, at £3.80, and “Imperial vintage” at £2.50. This shows a fairly competitively priced product. One with good brand message and practicality. Things therefore seem rather positive.

As for taste and scent expectations, a medium-dry, moderately carbonated drink, with a sweet and tangy taste, (and aftertaste), can be fairly easily established; After studying the bottle and website. With a good backstory, the product at a glance, appears exciting.

Smell

The smell, whilst rather weak, certainly had prominent acidity from the word go, with a strong element of nature. It didn’t persist for a long time on each sample, yet lingered for some time, with a steady froth maintaining it’s height.

Taste

The taste immediately possessed some bitterness. This wasn’t overpowering though, and developed into confident, natural wood. It was later complemented with plenty of natural sweetness which resulted in great balance. Dryness could be felt on the aftertaste early on, which was also consistent with the brand message. This aftertaste became delightful with bitterness, wood, and sweetness, all complementing each other very well in a natural way. Carbonation was certainly lighter than expected though, and could have been greater. Sweetness quickly developed to pleasantly complement the wood, providing a highly natural level of balance in the main flavour body. This sweetness level seemed ideal.

The prominent and lasting sweetness and woodiness, supplied a lovely characterful aftertaste. This was accompanied with bitterness, but didn’t possess any noticeable tang; Disappointing when you consider tang was evident on the nose. I feel it must have been overpowered by the other taste elements. The ciders’ mouthfeel was slightly thin, but still a good medium to hold enough character and flavour.

Summary

Mind blowing all-rounder, with great character and brand identity. With tweaks to carbonation and tang, very hard to fault.

Sources

Black Fox Organic Cider
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calculating-alcohol-units/
https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/food-drink/what-is-organic-certification/

Product:

My West Country cider and Johnny Depp ebook:

BUY THIS cider :

Dunkerton’s Black Fox Cider 12 Pack

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