Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Respect Your Elders

Our recent Spirit Cask Cider experiment was reasonably successful (albeit that no 'Casks' were actually used in its production). We're determined to get ahead of the game and develop the next big thing in cider marketing, but let's be honest, Cheap Cooking Rum and lightly toasted Hungarian Oak Chips are never going to deliver the kind of 'story' our increasingly picky customers demand. It's got to be genuine old Spirit Casks, and we haven't got any, so I guess it's back to the drawing board...

Anyway, it's now become apparent that we were wasting our time searching for the cider-zeitgeist in a bottle'o'rum. Apparently, Flowers are where it's at. Elderflowers to be precise, and needless to say, someone's already picked them. We've missed the boat... again!

Homemade wine enthusiasts have been putting these delicate Spring blossoms in their fruity concoctions for years, and one or two craft brewers have dallied with a bit of blossom in their time, but now it's the turn of cider. The distinctive flavour of Elderflower is widely regarded as a 'positive' taste experience whenever it occurs, so it's perhaps no surprise that someone's decided to shoehorn it into their cider. Although needless to say, it came as a complete surprise to us.... harumph!

The 'someones' who've already done it are the ingenious folk at the Sampford Courtenay Cider Co, who make jolly good cider in deepest Devon from apples grown on their own farm. Described as 'undiluted', 'lightly sparkling', and only 'slightly sweetened', it sounded right up my street. I just wasn't sure about the Elderflowers!

The first surprise came when I popped the swing-top on the bottle. I'd chilled things down nicely, but even so the cider frothl'd invitingly up the neck like a fine sparkling wine. The fizz is anything but harsh though, and certainly suits this style of cider. It's a robust little monkey, full of chunky bittersweet flavour, and just a hint of tangy farmhouse character for added drinkability. The Elderflower is subtle. Very subtle. I got a bit of flora in the nose, but not much in the mouth to be honest. Best of all, it's not the sticky sweetie I was expecting, more Medium or even Medium Dry, which is a very pleasant change. I love it, and so does the missus.... bah!

The packaging is real quality too. A 70cl swing-top bottle, labelled in such a way that a gnarled old apple tree can be seen shimmering through the golden liquid. You'll be pleased to learn that this cider was procured from one of the larger Waitrose stores around these parts (Stamford), and at £4.99 is reasonably good value for a cider of this quality (particularly as I get a lovely swing-top bottle to re-use at my leisure).

Now then, back to the laboratory. I'm sure we've got a bottle of Elderflower cordial somewhere in the house....

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