Man oh man, Ian Rayner and his Custard Cider seem to be the rock stars of Aussie cider at present. The ciders are produced naturally at his fully sustainable cider works in Donnybrook, Western Australia. Being in such an isolated area of Australia has by no means been detrimental to their presence in the market. The range of ciders are here, there and everywhere, and it’s a true testament to the product and philosophies. Rayner seems to be producing traditional styled cider, yet still please all the discerning commercial cider drinker's tastes. Hard feat! His mix of traditionalism and modernism seems to be a winning mix. This is a cider brand making cider for the right reasons. I take my hat off to Ian, who quite funnily enough is from the cider crazy county of Somerset in England. Now let’s try the Custard Vintage Dry!Loved the nice cloudy golden colour, and also loved the lightish carbonation. Nothing worse than an over carbonated cider. I don’t know if I was drunk, but the cider seemed to be thick and viscous in the glass. It almost seemed if it was sticking to the sides of the glass. Interesting indeed.
The nose showed exactly why wild ferments are the real way to make cider. There was some very inviting primary floral pineapple/tropical fruit notes here. But hints of funk and earthiness, along with a creamy/buttery angle added good complexing depth. There was some evidence of VA and just a touch of geranium too, but all in balance. Initially, it seriously smelt like a fresh crunch apple. Impressive.
The palate was a little bit of a mystery at first. I was expecting a full hit of Western Australian apple dryness, instead greeted with big upfront apple sweetness. The sweetness was moreish, with great weight and fattiness. The lower level of carbonation was perfect for the style. The acidity was on the lower side, yet flabbiness wasn’t an issue with the higher sugar. Texture was at a minimum, yet the crisp complexity was high. The flavour does die off a touch towards a washy finish, but holy hell this was one smashable cider. To be honest, it was like alcoholic apple juice but it all worked so well. I could see this being consumed in copious amounts. A respectable 5.5% alc, would also ensure this.
What I loved about this cider is the example of wild ferment funkiness. This really highlighted the complexity you get out of indigenous yeasts. Real cider is made this way. This is real cider. Simple. I do question why ‘dry’ is on the label, considering it’s a more medium to medium sweet. But the Custard Vintage Dry is a seriously top drop. Well played!
Producer: The Real River Company
Country: Australia (Donnybrook, Western Australia)
Rating: 17.5 out of 20