Cragie’s Irish Cider Dalliance 2012

Review of Cragie’s Irish Cider Dalliance 2012.  Its my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Ballyhook Flyer cider.  I’ve also tried some other Irish ciders, Dan Kelly’sLongueville House Cider, and Magner’s.

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Cider:  Dalliance 2012
Cidery:  Cragie’s Irish Cider
Cidery Location:  Blessington, Wicklow, Ireland
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and 750ml bottles and draft)
Style:  Irish large-craft cider from Irish dessert apple varieties (60% Falstaff, 30% Elstar, and 10% Jonagold)

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Availability:  year round, semi wide release

Cider Description:  2012, a dry sparkling cider, it is pale green in colour, light-medium bodied with a mixture of fresh citrus and green apple flavours and a touch of fennel. It is more akin to a sparkling wine in texture and flavour than a traditional cider and possesses the same palate refreshing qualities. Dalliance is the second blend in the Craigie range of ciders and as the name suggests is a playful flirtation with what each vintage has to offer. This vintage is a blend of dessert apples and is very different in style to the Ballyhook Flyer. It was released later than the Ballyhook Flyer as it spent fifteen months on its fine lees in order to develop and enhance its aromatic qualities. Like the Ballyhook Flyer it is a sparkling cider that is very refreshing with a long, complex finish. Dalliance is a great match for dishes such as charcuterie, turbot or creamy Irish cheeses such as Cooleeny.

Cidery Description:  Welcome to Craigies Cider, Irish craft cider made in County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.  7 varieties, 6 growers, 5 counties: 100% Irish. From seed to tree and from soil to season our aim is to express the unique characteristics of Ireland’s magnificent apple orchards. No added water, no added sugar, just pure apple juice, passionately crafted into fine, complex ciders.  We make our ciders using the juice of 100% pressed, Irish-grown apples and never from concentrate. Our ciders are vintage – we make them once a year – vegan, naturally gluten free, and made from apples grown in some of the best orchards in the world.

Price:  $7.00
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells like acidic musty apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Very low tannins.  No sourness.  A hint of funk.  Notes of primarily apple juice, with hints of green apple, pineapple, must, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I thought this was ok, albeit underwhelming.  I was expecting more complexity, but I guess especially since it is made from dessert apples I set the bar too high.  From my tasting notes on their Ballyhook Flier cider, I actually found that one more complex (and drier, more tannic, and more bitter).

Most Similar to:  Semi-dry apple juice-forward simple ciders, such as Elemental Carbon.  Comparing Dalliance to the other Irish ciders I’ve had, this was actually more similar to Magner’s than Cragie’s Ballyhook FlyerDan Kelly’s, or Longueville House Cider, as it wasn’t overly complex (although it remained drier and more craft tasting than Magner’s).

Closing Notes:  I’m curious if this is a cider which is better drank fresh, as my tasting experience differed from the description (and some other reviews).  However, it appears this cider was released fairly recently, probably 2015 (not 2012), so that isn’t too old.  I’ll have to give it another chance sometime.  Interestingly enough they only make the two varieties, Ballyhook Flier and Dalliance, and I’ve now tried both.

Have you tried Cragie’s cider?  What did you think?

Longueville House Cider

Review of Longueville House cider, from Cork Ireland.  Its my first time trying anything from this cidery, although I’ve tried two other Irish ciders, Cragie’s Ballyhook Flier and Dan Kelly’s Irish Cider.

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Cider:  Cider (flagship)
Cidery:  Longueville House
Cidery Location:  Cork Ireland
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Irish craft cider from cider apples

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Longueville House Cider is a medium dry artisan cider made on our 500 acre farm in the Blackwater Valley, Co. Cork. Longueville House (ca 1720) has been owned by the O’Callaghan family since the 10th century except for the 200 years when they were driven to “Hell or to Connaught” by Oliver Cromwell. Our 100% natural cider is hand-made from Dabinett and Michelin apples and contains no artificial sweeteners, additives, colourings, or preservatives. In Autumn we crush and press our apples on the farm within hours of harvesting. The apple juice is then naturally fermented for four months by the action of a unique natural yeast and sugar. The result is a medium dry cider, rich in amber colour. It is best drunk well chilled with no ice and is an ideal accompaniment to fish and meat.

Cidery Description:  Longueville House Cider was first developed by the late Michael O’Callaghan back in 2000 as a means to an end in making his Apple Brandy. A pioneering spirit he planted 25 acres of Dabinett and Michelin cider apples at the north-west side of the property based in the heart of The Blackwater Valley. The apples are harvested in the autumn every year. Once picked the apples are crushed and pressed in an oak cider press machine located in the cider house on our farm. The pressed juice is naturally fermented over time incorporating natural sugars in the juice and natural yeast on apples and in the atmosphere, resulting in a rich amber coloured cider. The cider is then filtered, carbonated and pasteurised.

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of cider apple juice, yeast, and a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, funk, and tannins.  Hints of bitterness and sourness.  Notes of tannic rich cider apples, barnyard, brown sugar, orange, leather, yeast, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked this cider.  I could have done without the funk, but it had some nice flavor from the cider apples.

Most Similar to:  Cider from Normandy France such as Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge, due to the richness, flavor notes, and funk.

Closing Notes:  This is the only variety from this cidery I’ve seen locally.  However, I have another variety from Cragie’s to try (which is another Irish cidery).

Have you tried Longueville House Cider?  What did you think?

Magners Original Irish Cider

Review of Magners Original Irish Cider.  Its my first time trying it oddly enough (I had never got around to it).

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Cider:  Original Irish Cider
Cidery:  Magners (C&C Group)
Cidery Location:  County Tipperary in Ireland
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  commercial Irish cider

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Availability:  wide release (over 50 countries)

Description:  We love making cider, but we reckon there’s only one way to do it properly. That’s why we’re still taking inspiration from the historic methods we used when we started making cider back in 1935. That’s part of the Magners taste.  So in this way we use 17 varieties of apples, waiting until they drop before pressing and filtering them in the traditional way.  We take time to ferment the cider and even more time to let it mature, up to 2 years in fact, tasting it along the way.  Sure, there are faster ways of making cider, but then it wouldn’t be Magners.

Price:  ~ $1.50 / single bottle
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I realized I had never tried Magners, which is often one of the first ciders people try.

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First Impression:  Fake orange amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of apple juice and a fake chemical scent.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  The notes didn’t go too beyond apple, with a touch of caramel.  Quick finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  It was what I was expecting…simple and fake tasting.  It was drier than I was expecting, but that is more typical for European ciders (vs. American commercial ciders).

Most Similar to:  Other commercial ciders, although this had a bit of English cider twist with the hints of bitterness and tannins.

Closing Notes:   Now I can finally say I’ve tried Magners.  I don’t really get why this sells so well, but I guess its easy to drink.

Have you tried Magners?  What did you think?

Dan Kelly’s Irish Cider

Review of Dan Kelly’s Irish Cider.  This is the second Irish cider I’ve tried (the first was Cragie’s Ballyhook Flier, plus I’ve also tried Dublin’s Pub, a Canadian Irish-style cider).

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Cider:  Cider
Cidery:  Dan Kelly’s
Cidery Location:  Drogheda Ireland
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  Irish craft cider

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None of the sub-pages of their website worked, including the one to contact them, so I couldn’t find much info straight from the source.

Availability:  Unknown, but it appears they have at least limited distribution in the U.S., plus in Ireland and Germany

Cider Description:  Dan Kelly’s Irish cider is crisp blend of cider apples with Bramley and dessert fruit using hand-picked apples from our own family orchard. These combinations give our craft cider a refreshing, crisp and extremely flavoursome finish every time.

Aged at least a year (I assume in a tank, as they didn’t mention barrels).  Fermented with wild yeast (which is rare, as typically ciders will add a predictable known yeast strain rather than rely on the yeast from the apples & environment).

Cidery Description:  Dan Kelly’s Cider is a new Irish cider made from hand picked apples from our very own family orchard. We are one of the only cider producers in Ireland to grow our own fruit. Our apples are blended to ensure the full fruit flavour comes through in our craft cider.

Price:  ~$9
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light amber-orange.  Low carbonation.  Smells dry, funky, and of oak.

Tasting Notes:  Between semi-dry and semi-sweet.  Low tannins, acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Slight funk.  Moderate apple flavor.  Medium bodied.  Notes of oak and herbalness.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this one was ok.  My main issue was a slightly off flavor I detected that I didn’t enjoy, likely from wild yeast fermentation (which is what can cause a cider to taste a bit funky).

Most Similar to:  English cider, although this one had a bit of unique flavor I assume is from the wild yeast.

Closing Notes:   I think I prefer English cider to Irish cider so far.  For a dollar or two less I can get an English cider I really enjoy, such as from Aspall or Sheppy’s.

Have you tried Dan Kelly’s cider?  What did you think?