Posted: 12.01.21 at 09:58 by Tim Lethaby
Each year Thatchers, the family cider-makers from Sandford, produce a limited edition range to go alongside their usual selection of drinks.
After the 2020 season, the Cider Barn selection this year is a top trio that sees a return of an old favourite, a new single variety and a blend that comes from one of the area's oldest and most influential orchards.
All in the name of research, I put them through a rigorous taste test to see how the 2020 ciders stacked up, and what makes them special.
First up is Thatchers Cox's which returns this year as a single variety cider that takes its sweet and juicy flavour from the Cox's apple.
Harvested in October, the apples are pressed at Myrtle Farm in Sandford, and the fresh juice fermented and cold filtered to keep the zest of this eating apple.
At 5.3 per cent ABV, I found it to have a nice full palette, but not overstated. It had a good fizz and a nice clean finish, with a citrus hint on the end which makes your mouth water.
Moving up in ABV, next we have Thatchers Grenadier at 7.4 per cent, which is a gentle, wine-like sparkling cider.
The Grenadier apple has been grown at the orchards of Myrtle Farm for many years, and the eating apple does add a gentle bite to the cider.
The apples are early to harvest, and pressed with 24 hours of being picked to keep the added flavour.
I loved the nice dry finish, with pleasant acidity. Your mouth definitely waters at the end of each mouthful, as it is so crisp with some added complexity from minerals in the soil where the apples are grown.
Finally, we have the Christon Single Orchard Cider, which is a blend of apples grown at the standard orchard in Christon, which was originally planted in 1928 by the founding fathers of the modern cider industry at the National Fruit and Cider Institute at the Long Ashton Research Station in Bristol.
Christon Orchard is home to 25 different varieties of apple, harvested four times throughout the season.
The fresh juice has been cold fermented to preserve the flavour and character of the fruit, and each small batch of juice has then been blended together before being matured in oak to create this robust and full-flavoured cider.
At 8.4 per cent ABV it is certainly a big-hitter and your can taste the extra alcohol with hints of tannins and vanilla.
Thatchers have come up trumps with their Cider Barn limited editions this year, with the three being a perfect foil for each other in terms of taste and complexity.
They are available online from the Thatchers website, which can be found here.