– “Natural with good branding. Lacking character and strength”.
[Why you should read …Ever wondered how good the cider is from Devon? Read on to find out …].
(Please note: Cold virus present when sampling).
“Natural flavour and smell”.
“Very weak acidity”.
Whilst Somerset and Hereford have provided many of the West Country ciders I’ve reviewed, Devon seems to be a county a little quiet on cider innovation. A while back, whilst at Liverpool’s BrewDog, I sampled a Sandford orchards Devon Red (red) cider bottle. This was the first time I realised that some widespread ciders were made in Devon.
This year I’ve captured another Devon Red bottle for review purposes… (cloudy sparkling).
B Production setting
The Devon countryside lends itself to cider production. The name “Devon” Red, also suggests a good level of West Country precipitation, from it’s Devon location. Quicke’s orchards press the apples used, and Sandford’s guarantee that all apples used are grown within 30 miles of their production site. This means these orchards are just a short drive away from the Creedy valley, where Sandford’s is based (At The Cider Works of Crediton, Devon). The Cider Works were established here in 1935, yet they’ve been recently restored, suggesting the traditional values claimed, may not be fully fledged yet. The bottle consolidates this, suggesting Sandford’s orchards has only been established since 2002.
C Price and Practicality
Looking at costs then, 2 bottles would be needed to reach the 3-4 unit recommended maximum alcohol intake. This means a spend of £2.58. Slightly more expensive then than canned Thatchers, and most stronger bottles where only 1 is required. Whilst 42p cheaper than Stan’s barrel roller, the drink is rather costly even from Aldi’s special buys, where it was purchased. Since 2 bottles at 4.6% ABV of 500ml provide 4.6 units, the product isn’t totally practical for safe consumption either. Bit of a shame…
With this product first produced so recently in 2011, it seems a little silly to have the slogan “true to our roots”. At least they’ve cleverly amended the font, appearing to have roots emerging from this motto.
Except the year and slogan, the branding is actually very good though. The bottle front displays an eye-catching, and symmetrical tree image, with identical roots and branches. The Sandford’s orchards are clearly written twice on the labels, suggesting pride in local apples used. The reverse bottle label provides an identical product description to that on the website. One that is concise, informative, clearly laid out, and that supplies a web-link, bottle capacity, and strength information. If anything, the background information on the bottle is even better than the website! The white on black text keeps things quick and easy to read. Very good branding overall.
E Taste expectations
At Quicke’s, a wide range of apple varieties are grown. Clearly making the most of the red limestone rich soils that Sandford’s mention on their website. This soil is supposedly particularly fertile. This provides cattle with thick and lush grasses, aswell as “pomace”, following the pressing process. Used apple varieties include: Yarlington mill, Tremlett’s bitter, and Woodbine. Tremlett’s bitter seems a good variety, as it added considerable character to Stan’s barrel roller, not present in leaf Twister, in it’s absence.
This leads me to expect a cider with some bitterness. Hopefully the producers recognise that this can dominate however, and have effectively balanced the drink.
The website claims this cider is a medium-dry product, possessing notable fruit levels.
I’d therefore hope, for a naturally sweet drink, with medium dryness. Carbonation should at least be moderate, yet the experience, should be subtle enough to avoid ending the session after just one bottle. The website backs this up, with the assertion of a session cider.
I am going in without expectations (blind) for mouthfeel, tang, and aroma.
The smell was very sweet and natural, accompanied by a generous froth that persisted for a short time. It tasted slightly tangy, although no more than a hint of acidity was present. The smell cut off quickly, and on subsequent inhalations, was significantly diminished.
Carbonation level was moderate to high, with a reasonable number of bubbles present.
It’s watery body didn’t carry through much tang. This was weak, only lasting briefly following sips. After tasting, no notable dryness was apparent. Instead, minimal aftertaste with slight bitterness, emerged. All a bit too subtle… Sweetness was well balanced with tang, although both were a little weak. Initially, the drink was fairly watery, fading into a watery aftertaste too.
The aftertaste didn’t emerge for a while, until the watery nature subsided, and when it did, it was just a faint hint of bitterness, from the Tremlett’s bitter apples.
Overall, Devon Red was natural tasting, but very weak, with limited bitterness and sweetness.
Natural with good branding. Lacking character and strength.
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