Henry Weston’s Medium-dry “Signature Vintage” review – “Wood and character, dance around your tastebuds” – (9.5/10).

 
The Good

“Nice bottle presentation”.
“Practical”.
“Inexpensive”.
“Woody scent, as expected”.
“Smooth throughout”.
“Pleasant natural tang”.
“Lovely medium dryness”.
“Great balance”.
“Moderate natural sweetness”.
“Pleasant woody notes”
“Varied blend throughout sampling”.
“Non-sickly aftertaste”.
“Full-flavoured”.
“Ideal medium mouthfeel”.

The Bad

“Lack of label colour innovation”.
“Carbonation too light”.
“Weak smell”.
“Backstory and product identity not developed”.

Packaging

Henry Weston’s is a traditional cider producer from Much Marcle near Ledbury in Herefordshire, established in 1880. I’m familiar not only with the area, having cycled past the nearby rolling hills, but also with the many Westons’ product versions, regularly drummed out over recent years. Their drinks used to be simpler, with a specific colour to each edition. Almost defining each drink.

The “Bright Red” of the Medium dry vintage, the “Gold” of the oak-aged vintage, and the “Blue” of the medium sweet vintage.

Now “medium dry” is far from one member of Westons’ range. In fact, to date I’ve now discovered 3 different types of “medium dry”. 2 emerged on supermarket shelves this year, greeting my thirsty eyes.

This for me is a little confusing. Not because there should only be one version called “medium dry”.
Dryness is just one aspect of many, which comprise all good ciders.
More of an issue, is the failure to impart colour into these new versions, making them appear not new at all. They are all only subtly different from what the customer is used to. All just brown and grey, with slightly different writing.

Between the medium dry “2016 vintage” and the medium dry “aged finish”, there was only 0.25/10 separating them on my rating scale. This does lead to the inference that maybe they aren’t different enough to warrant new “medium dry” versions. Perhaps just bundle them into one blend called “medium dry”.

Fortunately though, despite akin scores, they differed in sensory experience considerably.

This week’s offering is similar in colour to the “gold”, of the oak aged vintage and the “silver” of the medium dry “aged finish”. Todays’ name begins with medium dry.

What a surprise !!

If it was part of a new range, the bottle would appear sophisticated and smart, but I’m losing respect for Weston’s rolling out such clone-like newbies.

Today’s drink is dull black rather than dull brown. Still, rant over about innovation in Weston’s packaging, and onto the drink of today …

Enter Henry Westons’ medium dry “Signature Vintage”. From the bottle, “Complexity” is boasted, suggesting good character. “Medium dry” is stated, and “Slow maturation in oak vats” asserted, supporting the complexity element. This apparently also imparts “exceptional taste”. “Sparkling”, means full carbonation will be expected.

“Smooth finish” suggests a smooth, lasting aftertaste. The oak maturation, and bottle assertion of oak in the aroma, leads me to expect a woody element in the taste to provide promised character.

The 2018 year of vintage promised on bottle, in my experience, has been great. Delivering 8.25 and 8.50, as scores, from drinks such as 2018 Sainsbury’s vintage, and Aldi’s 2018 vintage. I’m therefore excited to sample another drink made exclusively from last years’ harvest.

For acidity and sweetness, I’d hope the bottle assertion of “exceptional taste”, ambiguously implies significant natural sweetness, with moderate natural tang. Those are my preferences.

£2 per bottle is the same price as the “aged finish” version, and only 10p more than the Oak-aged “vintage”. Like the “aged finish”, you also only need 1 bottle here, putting you at 3.4 units; Midway between the 3-4 unit sensible drinking level for an evening. Each bottle is 500ml, making 6.8% ABV a practical percentage. Better than the chart topping 8.2% of 2017 Henry Weston’s Oak-aged Vintage cider, which puts you slightly over this safe range for just one bottle.

So how good is Henry Weston’s medium dry “Signature Vintage” ? Let’s find out …

 
Smell

Plenty of samples were provided from the bubbles gently popping on the drinks’ surface, of a weak, yet natural and characterful scent. This remained for considerable time. The strength of scent, with low bubble count, suggested light carbonation. The smell was natural, and did possess the wood suggested.

 
Taste

On first sip, it was clear that the carbonation was very light, rather than the sparkling suggested. Fortunately though, disappointment was soon overshadowed by a pleasantly moderate, natural tang. This persisted into the aftertaste immediately, in the smooth manner suggested. Aftertaste was smooth and natural. Medium dryness was apparent after a few sips, and this was done very well, in a rather melodious manner. It wasn’t intrusive or dominant in any way.

Whilst sweetness wasn’t obviously apparent, this seemed to blend in with the acidity well, creating a nicely balanced result. Character was very well portrayed throughout drinking. Moments of tartness were quelled, with smooth flavours fading into dryness. Variability throughout tasting highlighted many good elements, further complemented by a good level of wood. This was the cornerstone of this drinks’ identity. The way the elements dance around your mouth, is unique to this drink.

Mouthfeel was medium, but the full-flavour, meant that a full mouthfeel wasn’t necessary.

Overall, this drink very nearly achieved perfection for drinking experience. Let down a little by branding, and lack of carbonation regrettably.

Summary

Wood and character dance around your tastebuds. One of the best ciders I have tried. Tied top scorer with Dunkertons Black Fox !!

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Other Weston’s reviews

Henry Weston’s medium-dry “aged finish” (2017) cider review
https://reasea.org/2019/04/05/henry-westons-medium-dry-aged-finish-2017-cider-review-8-10-a-nicely-balanced-sweet-and-fruity-cider-clearly-natural-yet-not-unique-with-tartness-superior/

Henry Westons’ ” Medium dry” oak aged vintage 2016
https://reasea.org/2017/08/16/henry-westons-medium-dry-oak-aged-vintage-2016-8-2510/

Henry Westons’ oak aged vintage
https://reasea.org/2018/11/16/henry-westons-oak-aged-vintage-cider-subtle-nature-with-a-pleasant-smell-and-aftertaste-limited-identity-though-except-for-hints-of-wood-and-bitterness-deeper-down-7-75-10/
Tags: Henry Westons, westons, oak aged, medium dry, aged finish, oak aged vintage, 1880, much Marcle, Ledbury, Herefordshire, reaseaorg, reasonedandseasoned, 6.8%ABV, 3.4 units, 500ml, protected geographic origin, designation, Geographically protected status, 2018 vintage cider,

Sources

Reasea.org

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