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?

Worley’s Mendip Hills

Review of Worley’s Mendip Hills English cider.  Its my first time trying this variety, but I’ve tried Worley’s other 2 ciders available locally, Special Reserve and Premium Vintage.

Cider:  Mendip Hills
Cidery:  Worley’s
Cidery Location:  Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  English cider from cider apples

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Availability:  Semi wide release

Cider Description:  A slightly sparkling medium cider – smooth and rounded flavour with complex, mellow notes. Best served chilled.  To create ciders of great depth and roundness, it’s imperative to blend a number of apple varieties and Mendip Hills is a lovely example of this art. Containing some 16 apple varieties, the flavour profile of Mendip Hills is full and rounded, yet smooth and satisfying. This accomplished cider is made from punchy late-season fruit that has had longer to mature in the cool orchard grass of some of Somerset’s finest orchards, before being fermented by wild yeasts and matured for several months. A very light carbonation is applied at bottling to produce a velvet-smooth cider with oodles of warm, spicy apple-pie notes.

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:  $11
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve tried the other 2 varieties from Worleys available locally, and figured I’d try the 3rd one.

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First Impression:  Medium pumpkin amber.  Moderate carbonation with some foam.  Smells tannic, sweet, and of cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of cider apples, pomace, orange, leather, and caramelized sugar.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor and complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  I prefer this to their Premium Vintage and Special Reserve.

Most Similar to:  Other English ciders, compared to which its on the entry level end, due to its sweetness, lower tannins, and no sourness or funk.  I also found some similarities with French cider, with its higher carbonation, sweetness, and being apple-forward.

Closing Notes:   I hope Worley’s offers more ciders in the U.S. soon.

Have you tried Worleys cider?  What did you think?

Worley’s Premium Vintage 2013

Review of Worley’s Premium Vintage 2013 (Lot 9).  Note that apparently the “Premium” refers to Worley’s believing this was the best cider they made of that vintage.  This is real proper English craft cider, similar to Sheppy’s, not the fake stuff they import in larger quantities here in the U.S. such as Strongbow Gold Apple or Blackthorn (although Sheppy’s has been around far longer than Worley’s).  I’ve tried one other variety from Worley’s, their Special Reserve, at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (my tasting notes here).

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Cider:  Premium Vintage 2013
Cidery:  Worley’s
Cidery Location:  Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
ABV:  6.4%
How Supplied:  500ml (16.9oz) clear glass bottle

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Availability:  limited in the U.S., but any higher end bottle shops which carry imported cider would probably carry it / be able to get it

Cider Description:  A medium-dry, slightly sparkling cider – with good tannin and a spicy finish. Best served chilled.  The 2013 Premium Vintage is a blend of early-season cider apple varieties from some of South Somerset’s finest orchards. Freshly pressed juice is fermented under the influence of natural yeasts then slowly matured on the cool slopes of the Mendip Hills. The full-juice cider is sweetened, filtered and lightly carbonated at bottling to produce an unparalleled cider with plenty of flavour and a long, spicy finish.

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!

Traditional cider made with care.  Here at Worley’s our main philosophy is that the best cider allows the fruit to do the talking.  All our ciders are made from fresh-pressed cider apple juice, once a year at apple harvest time. Using very high levels of apple juice is an approach only used by craft makers of traditional cider.  We always allow all our ciders to ferment at the cool ambient temperatures of autumn and winter, using only the natural yeasts found in and on the fruit and in the fermenting environment. This approach leads to complex but mellow flavours with maximum fruity tastes and aromas. It’s a bit of a gamble using wild yeasts as things don’t always go according to plan, which is why the larger makers don’t do it, but the results are well worth the risk in our opinion.  To make the best cider you need to use the best fruit at the peak of its ripeness. All the apples we use are the finest vintage cider apple varieties from the sun-drenched orchards of south Somerset. We use anywhere up to 16 different varieties, which we aim to blend into a decent cider before pressing. Then we do another round of blending once the different ciders have matured, which usually takes place in late May.

Price:  $11.75
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  The best selection of Worley’s I’ve seen in the Seattle area by the way was the Lake Union area Whole Foods, which had three varieties (Premium Vintage, Special Reserve, and Mendip Hills).  Full Throttle Bottles had Premium Vintage and Special Reserve I believe.

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First Impression:  Significant yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle.  Deep gold amber.  High carbonation upon pouring with residual foam.  Rich slightly funky sweet cooked apple scent.  This is one of those ciders I just wanted to sniff for awhile as it smelled scrumptious!

Opinion:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (some sources say this is back sweetened, which I find interesting).  Moderate to high tannins and astringency (definitely made from cider apples!).  Moderate lingering bitterness.  Low acidity.  Well balanced.  Rich sharp complex almost smokey flavor.  I pick up some wood notes although as far as I know this wasn’t barrel aged (but was aged both before and after bottling).  Full bodied.  Slightly funky with noticeable yeast presence (note that this was wild yeast fermented, which is rare as it is more unpredictable & risky; more commonly cidermakers kill off any natural yeast present and use a commercial yeast strain).  The carbonation started out rather high but rather quickly it went a bit flat.  This is a great example of what I believe to be real English cider!  Hopefully someday I’ll make it to England and see for myself (I’ve been before but as a child).  I enjoyed this cider more as it warmed up to between fridge and room temperature, as it smoothed out a bit.  My husband really liked this cider too, which is rare.

Most Similar to:  Other English and English-style ciders.  The closest I’ve probably had is Liberty Ciderwork’s English Style or Alpenfire Ember, both of which I tried at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (tasting notes here).  The Liberty one was lower tannin than this and the Alpenfire one was higher tannin than this.

Closing Notes:   Very good!  However, my favorite English cider so far is still Sheppy’s Oak Matured, and here in the U.S., Liberty Ciderwork’s English Style.  I especially like the strong oak barrel flavor from the Sheppy’s.  Both are a bit more affordable too, especially the Sheppy’s at $7 instead of almost $12 for a 500ml bottle (the Liberty runs $14 for a 750ml).  I look forward to trying more English ciders such as from Worley’s.

Have you tried any ciders from Worley’s?  What did you think?

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Monday: Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy cider review
  • Tuesday: Cider at Seattle International Beerfest (July 10-12)
  • Wednesday: Angry Orchard mini cider reviews (Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer Honey, Iceman, & The Muse)
  • Thursday: Ace Pineapple cider review
  • Friday/Saturday: mystery new cider review
    • I’m still deciding what to try first, as (unfortunately for my bank account) I bought 9! new ciders over the weekend and still have 7 remaining:  Eaglemount Quince, NV Cider Half Past Prudent, Worley’s Premium Vintage, Atlas Hard Apple Cider, Liberty Manchurian Crabapple, Anthem Traditional, and Crispin Browns Lane Imported English Cider.

Stay tuned, and remember to follow by e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!