Worley’s Special Reserve

Review of Worley’s Special Reserve, a keeved English cider (a process more common with French cidre, and which makes a naturally sweet and sparkling cider).  I previously tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (see here), but wanted to give it another go.  I’ve also tried Worley’s other two ciders which are available in the U.S., Premium Vintage and Mendip Hills.

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Cider:  Special Reserve
Cidery:  Worley’s
Cidery Location:  Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
ABV:  5.4%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  English craft cider from cider apples, keeved, medium sweet, naturally sparkling

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Worley’s Special Reserve is made from 100% pure cider apple juice using the ancient art of keeving.  This creates a naturally sparkling cider of outstanding fruity character with subtle undertones of caramel.  It has a sweetness and rounded tannins lifted by a long-lasting carbonation.  Bottle-conditioning results in a natural sediment.  Store and chill upright and pour with care to leave sediment in the bottle.

Cidery Description:  A hobby that got out of control.  We first made cider as a bit of fun for ourselves and our friends. Now here we are nearly a decade later and we’re still having fun but we’re making a lot more cider!  Our first experience of making was when we bought 50 gallons of juice off the farm press from the iconic Roger Wilkins in Mudgely, Somerset. We made the mistake of adding in a bit of sugar and ended up with 10.5% cider. It was lethal and one of the neighbours spent a few hours in a ditch as a result of downing a couple of pints.  Lesson learned, we began to find our own fruit in various small Somerset orchards and gradually started to master the mysterious arts of fruit selection and fermentation.  A few years ago we decided if wanted to carry on making cider we’d need the cider to start making a contribution to its upkeep. So we gradually started selling a bit. Now we’re making over 30,000 litres a year and don’t have time to have proper jobs any more!

Price:  $16.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  initially at Cider Summit Seattle

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low to moderate carbonation with some foam.  Smells funky, of bittersweet cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied with a fluffy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  Moderate to high funk, especially on the finish.  Hints of sourness.  Moderate to long finish.  Notes of bittersweet cider apple juice and pomace, orange, caramel, and barnyard.  High apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  It has an interesting mix between lightness and richness.  However, I would have liked less funk (although the quality has grown on me in the last couple years).

Most Similar to:  A cross between English and French cider, which are both favorites of mine.

Closing Notes:  I’ve been in a big English cider mood lately, but the selection of them has decreased in the Seattle area oddly enough (seems like the imports don’t move very quickly, so the shops haven’t been re-ordering them).  My favorite Worley’s cider so far is Mendip Hills, which had all the flavor without the funk.

Have you tried keeved cider?  What did you think?

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2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2015 Vintage

Review of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is one of two ciders which they released to start off their new Traditions line.  Their Traditions line will replace their separate Traditions brand and focus on barrel aged vintage cider from heirloom apples.  The other is Riverwood, which I’ll be reviewing next.  Two others will soon be released, Afton Field and La Mûre.  Its my first time trying this cider, although I’ve tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (see here).

Keeving is a special labor intensive process of fermenting the cider slowly, starving it of natural nutrients.  It results in an apple-forward, naturally sweet, lower ABV, and higher carbonation cider.  This is typical for French cidre, but is very rare in the U.S.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Traditions Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft French keeved style cider from heirloom apples, oak aged

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Availability:  Limited (only 240 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Oregon grown bittersweet heirloom apples.  Old world keeving method.  Aged in French oak casks….Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouché is made with an Old World process called keeving. We start with 100% traditional cider apple varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett and Muscat de Lense, and then let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma. Next, the apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a year, and aged in French oak casks. When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character. Pairs well with classic French fare— think savory crepes, pork terrine, camembert and blue cheese.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy medium orange amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells slightly funky and apple forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acid.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, apple pomace, honey, orange, grapefruit, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and thought it paired well with Thanksgiving dinner.  It got a bit funkier as it warmed up, so I preferred it cold.  I’m a fan of these sorts of bold and rich ciders, and of (not too funky or sour) French cidre.

Most Similar to:  French cidre.  It definitely seemed true to the style, in between Normandy and Brittany French cidre as it was a bit funky (as Normandy cidre can tend to be), but not overly so.  However, it was a bit higher acidity and more fruity though (although the grapefruit I picked up might have been more from the high acidity than anything else), which was a nice twist.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to trying the other ciders in their new Traditions line.  I think they made a great choice to release them in smaller 375ml bottles, as it will reduce the price point and increase the number of bottles available.  I also think the switch to keep these under their 2 Towns brand but in a separate category was a smart move.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?