When I was younger, cider had a reputation for being drunk from plastic bottles by chavs, and the only brand drunk in pubs was Strongbow. Brands such as Magners and Bulmers became more popular, and since then, bars and supermarkers have started stocking much more variety.
Many brands are doing their part to give a classier image to cider – It’s no longer just simple alcoholic apple juice for farm workers! These companies treat their creation like winemaking, with carefully blended varieties of apples, aged and matured to perfection.
Aspall from Suffolk is one of my favourite brands. They’ve been making their ‘cyder’ since 1728 for an incredible 8 generations! They make a variety of bottles such as Draught, Organic, Premier Cru, and the powerful Imperial Vintage 285 which at 8% alcohol, has over 4 units per bottle. They are crisp and aromatic, with lots of flavour and floral aromas.
Henry Westons from Herefordshire make vintage ciders, with their year of harvest on the label, another similarity to wine. They age many of their ciders in oak casks to add more levels of complexity and smoothness. The Vintage Cider pictured is another powerful one at 8.2%, so take care when drinking! It’s smooth and fruity, so it’s easy to drink a bit too quickly before you realise what’s hit you!
Other brands worth trying out that you may find in your local supermarket include Addlestones, whose Cloudy Cider is delicately favoured, Thatchers, and from Scotland, Thistly Cross, who make a deliciously fruity cider that is aged in whisky casks.
There’s a massive range of styles out there, so instead of picking up your usual brand, try out some of these crackers and let us know what you think!