Category: Cider


Thistly Cross Cider

Work has recently sent me to the town of Aviemore in the Scottish highlands. Aviemore is a small town with views out across the Cairngorm mountains, which, although impressive, don’t really compete with what I hear it’s like in the Alps. What has this got to do with the price of eggs? I hear you ask, well, while in Aviemore I found that nearly every restaurant and bar had at least a couple of beers available from the Cairngorm Brewery, the brewery itself being in an industrial estate on the edge of town.

Moody Skies

Moody Skies Over Aviemore

Work done and about to head back to England we thought it’d be rude to not have a look at what’s available at the brewery shop. Obviously there were many Cairngorm beers, a few guest beers and you usual souvenir brewery clock and brewery t-shirt etc. But what I want to mention is the Thistly Cross Cider.

Thistly Cross Cider

Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider 6.9%

Thistly Cross Original 7.2% is a lightly effervescent cider, light in colour too. A pleasant, dry aroma, something akin to Stowford Press. It has one real though, and it’s a major one, the main taste. it is far, far too sweet. I did not think that a cider of such strength could possibly be that sweet. As a result of this sweetness it also has a thick and gloopy mouthfeel, which isn’t desirable either. Afterwards the cider has an aftertaste more akin to Merry Down, with a slight sour note to it. It really was quite a chore to finish this.

I’d hoped that the other bottle would be better Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Aged 6.9%. The one with the slightly lower ABV being less sweet must surely be to do with the maturation in Whisky casks? More rounded, mellow and with hints of vanilla out of the two it would definitely be my choice, although it is still very sweet. But would I choose either of them at all? No. I won’t say that you should avoid it like the plague because that can get people into trouble, and I suppose if you have a sweet tooth you may like it. Definitely not for me though.

Golden Fire

Godlen Fire - The history of Cider. By Ted Bruning

Golden Fire – The history of Cider. By Ted Bruning

I’d just like to tell the world about a book I’ve just finished reading. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, however, for anyone interested in the subject of cider I feel this is a must read.

Golden Fire by Ted Bruning is basicly a comprehensive history of cider from its possible beginnings millennia ago, to recent business mergers of the major cider industries in recent years. The first few chapters I found were a bit dry and did remind me somewhat of an old history text book from when I was at school. Saying this, when the subject matter moves on to slightly more modern times (when there is more hard evidence and less supposition to be made) the book is easy to read, informative and full of little bits of information which will one day keep the reader in good stead during the ‘history of cider’ round of a pub quiz.

I’m in two minds about the final conclusions of the book, in which Ted asks whether enough is being done to promote high quality “smooth” ciders, which are much more akin to wine than what most of us know as “traditional” or “rough” or “scrumpy”, and that not is being done across the cider industry to educate cider makers and consumers. I’m not sure if cider, being a smaller industry than beer would ever get the investment that he is calling for but at the same time I can’t argue with the fact that if the investment were made then more high quality ciders would be available.

Either way, agree or disagree with the final conclusions of the book, it is a great read and one which i thoroughly recommend to anyone who is interested in cider.

Available to buy at amazon and all good retailers. 

Mulling Cider

Christmas has just gone and I have been working my way through the lovely booze based gifts which have been gratefully received during the festive period. Included in this was some chilli beers, gin and a cider gift set. The cider included two bottles of Sheppy’s Cider, Bullfinch and Goldfinch. Also in the set was a ceramic cider jug and a pack of mulling spices in tea bags.

Wanting to try the ciders I decided to drink them without mulling them. I found the Goldfinch a little too dry for my tastes but the Bullfinch was just right.

Jug and cider box

I later decided I’d try mulling some cider with the spices. I thought that it would be a bit silly to use a sparkling cider, seeming as I was going to pour it into a saucepan, then let it simmer, surely all the fizz would be gone? So I bought a box of Weston’s Wyld Wood Cider (7.3%).

I have never tried muled cider, yet alone make it. Fortunately the recipe is simple. Two litres of cider, one mulling spice sachet and simmer for half an hour (do not allow to boil). Keeping an eye on the saucepan for half an hour was tedious, one bag floating in a pan, doing nothing isn’t exactly riveting entertainment. Also standing in front of it, I didn’t notice the room filling with the thick spicy smell of all the spices. People who walked into the room said it was like walking into a physical wall of smell. No one actually complained about it though. Served via the jug supplies.

Bringing a mug of hot, mulled cider to my mouth for the first time I got huge hit of vapour hit me in the face, full of flavours and probably evaporating alcohol. It took a moment to get used to, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I just had to get through two litres of it before it got cold. I found that the cooler the cider got, the less desirable it was. In the end I chucked the last half a pint, which was just as well because there was some sort of brown slurry. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been harmful but I’m glad I didn’t drink that.

All in all I think you need to make smaller batches to drink while it’s hot, can you buy the spices which haven’t been pre packed for two litre batches? Or, make a large batch and share it.