Waitrose Duchy Organic Herefordshire 2017 vintage cider review (6/10)- “Watery and sickly- sweet apples. Natural, but indifferent”.

The Good

“Year of vintage specified on bottle”.
“Good brand message”.
“Pleasant looking bottle”.
“Natural smell and taste”.
“Some wood in the flavour”.

The Bad

“No USP”.
“Impractical”.
“Expensive”.
“Weak smell”.
“Watery mouthfeel”.
“Sickly sweetness”.
“Lack of balance”.
“No dryness”.
“Carbonation too weak”.
“Lacking acidity in flavour”.
“Sickly aftertaste”.
“One-dimensional experience throughout”.

Packaging

Waitrose Duchy Organic Herefordshire vintage doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Let’s hope that the flavour doesn’t either, and stays for a while to soothe your desires. Unfortunately, it doesn’t soothe your wallet, slimming it down instead.

At £2.09 per bottle, you only get 2.5 units. From 500ml and 5% ABV, you’d want at least 2. This sets the evening cost at £4.18. It would also tip you over the 3-4 units the Government recommended to not regularly exceed in 2018. For comparison, £1.90 would buy you a very nice Henney’s Dry cider, also from Herefordshire. This met the “do not regularly exceed limit” too, so is more practical and cheaper. It also scored an incredible (8.75/10). Things are a little impractical and pricey then here. The pressure is on …

But what about the drinks identity ?

From the website this drink is produced organically, featuring the Organic soil association badge. You may recall from my Dunkertons review, what this means. If not here is an excerpt.
“This refers to a business operating to the highest standards of sustainability and integrity, creating products which are traceable back to the farm. This is hugely favourable to the natural environment, and acts as a guarantee for product quality.”

Clearly “organic” is a positive feature then…

With assertions of oak vats, you’d hope for a cottage-industry style production. The year of vintage stamp exacerbates the organic message, catapulting the drinks brand image. As if this wasn’t enough, the sale of every bottle of this drink supports “The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation”. This means, sale money helps contribute to sustainability and environmental initiatives of the future.

The title of this drink “Duchy”, relates to the royal title of duke. A duke is defined as the highest rank below the monarch. This could include queen or prince. It makes sense then, that the donation to the princes’ charity, is the purpose for this heading. Vintage means all apples used were from a singles year harvest, with Herefordshire referring to the county of production. From it’s assertion of “produced by a family cider maker established in 1880”, I think the assumption has to be that this is Weston’s of Much Marcle near Ledbury.

For smell, the website asserts this as “sweet fruit”, with a real depth or richness to the body. For taste expectations, I’d hope for balance between sweetness and bitterness. Supposedly, this should provide soothing refreshment. I’d hope for a full-bodied mouthfeel, to really carry this sweetness and bitterness through. Full-bodied nature can help overcome lower ABV weaknesses; These include lack of character or depth of flavour typically. I’d also hope for a persistent aftertaste.

Smell

The smell began as a faint natural tartness. This indicated reasonable acidity. It prevailed for just a short time. Quickly becoming totally absent… It wasn’t especially different or unique, but reassured that the natural eco-friendly product, wouldn’t have an artificial or synthetic taste. On each breath, the smell was quick to fade, suggesting only light flavour.

Taste

On opening, very little fizz was apparent, suggesting only light carbonation. From my first sip, it was immediately clear the drink had some character. A rather warming sense of wood was instantly detectable. Carbonation was too light for my taste though. The mouthfeel was thin, appearing rather watery. The tang present in the aroma did nothing to balance the drink, as the sweetness became too dominant and a little sickly.

I’d have expected a Herefordshire cider, to possess some dryness following the aftertaste. This was sadly lacking… The wood detected earlier, became totally stunted by the sweetness which continued as an overbearing entity; One that prevented the drink being session-able.

The aftertaste persisted as a sickly sweetness which wasn’t very nice.

Summary

Watery and sickly-sweet apples. Natural, but indifferent.

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Sources

Henneys.co.uk
https://www.pwcf.org.uk/about-us
https://www.livescience.com/6523-difference-duchess-princess.html

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