Hawkes Urban Orchard apple cider review – “A confidently woody, full-bodied drink” (8.5/10).
“Recycling brand message”.
“Confident woody flavour”.
“Natural taste and smell”.
“Pleasant acidity levels”.
“Good medium dryness as promised”.
“Nice woody and natural lasting aftertaste”.
“Acidity slightly weak”.
“Woodiness too overpowering”.
“Not well balanced”.
“Carbonation very weak”.
“Sweetness a little weak”.
“Branding lacking an icon”.
With “Hand picked in the capital” quoted on the website, it’s clear this cider is trying to be different, with my last reviewed, chart-topper, focusing on nature and the country, clearly this is virtually the opposite. Hopefully not in quality though …
Most ciders emphasise fruit, orchards and a natural setting; All places where you’d expect apples to thrive.
Hawkes Urban Orchard stresses the importance of it’s “unique blend of London-pressed, country apples”, asserting the terms “Country” and “London” in the same sentence. This again raises intrigue…
For the branding, a skull with an apple leaf, captures the shape of an apple. The bottle features many eye-catching symbols, upon striking artificial colours. Unfortunately though, these symbols are too small. This makes a slightly busy label, without central focus. Therefore, I feel the branding lacks that centrepiece icon which draws in attention from a distance. This makes it blend in, rather than stand out, from the range of ciders featured in the supermarket.
It could have projected it’s London USP more then, perhaps with the London Eye of Lambeth, combined with an apple tree for the icon. The skull doesn’t seem especially stimulating or relevant to London. On first impressions then, the branding seems quite weak.
The brand seems ethical though, using a blend of unwanted London apples with country apples, showing consideration for the environment and waste. They gather these unwanted apples, by encouraging you to bring in your own apples for use in their ciders. That certainly sounds innovative, and a particularly relevant message for recycling in populous cities.
It displays a price of £2.29 per bottle, from Waitrose. The 4.5% ABV, means 2 would be necessary for a fairly practical 4.4 units in total. Thus nudges the cost up to a high £4.58; Even higher than the Welsh Black Dragon cider at £2.95 per bottle, since only one was needed there, for close to safe limits. Consequently, Urban Orchard is especially pricey, and therefore not a drink easily affordable for a session. With 500ml capacity, bottle size was quite typical though.
Whilst no real backstory is present on the website as to when the company was established, the business was inspired by Hawkers in London. These, since about 1800 have been selling their goods, primarily food, on busy streets in London and many other large cities across the globe. Typically these goods are cheap though, unlike this cider. Today, hawker markets are even common in Asian countries like Singapore. This shows their significance in culture, providing a local service to the public, creating a buzz with small scale production.
Perhaps this ciders’ name of “Hawkes”, suggests the company is aimed at appealing to local Londoners. Those who respect the traditions and trades of the area. “Community spirit”, isn’t a bad brand message. With London densely populated, sales should be good too.
I also like the clear information for tasting expectations. The bottle specifies Medium-dry, Complex, and Full-bodied. This should finish with a tangy aftertaste aswell. I learnt all this from a brief label read. With the assertion of being a drink that could change the world, it certainly doesn’t lack ambition.
Let’s see if that ambition comes through in the taste.
The smell was very natural, and smooth. It emerged quickly, yet wasn’t particularly strong. A fizz could hardly be heard, suggesting light carbonation. After a short while, no odour could be sensed, reenforcing the lack of carbonation.
The taste quickly constructed itself as a woody and natural experience. This woodiness lasted into the aftertaste and was met by a certain level of dryness. As for the flavour, no sickly sweetness was present with just fruitiness bumbling along at a weaker level than the wood.
After a few sips, the acidity developed to a level which complemented the wood well. Whilst the tang was overshadowed, it was still far more noticeable, than any sweetness or carbonation. This suggested, a reasonable level of acidity.
The aftertaste was a woody and slightly dry affair, which was pleasant. It finalised my conclusion that the flavour provided a characterful and enjoyable sensation. Throughout the bottle, the aftertaste persisted well. The dryness in this aftertaste, could be described as “Medium”, as the branding promised. With elements of nature emerging amongst the fruity tang, you can’t be too harsh when assessing this beverage.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t fully balanced. Sweetness and carbonation were a little lacking, whilst dryness and tang appeared positive and fruity. With wood, tang, nature, and dryness, all coming through well, the drinking experience was very smooth, and full of flavour. A full mouthfeel helped all these elements come together nicely.
A confidently woody, full-bodied drink, of smooth and natural, appley tang. A few elements were too weak though, and the drink was costly to consume.
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