Saturday, 21 February 2015

Circle Cider

Well here’s a funny little story I must share. A normal, everyday guy named Nick Howard quits his day job and starts playing around with a bit of cider in Swindon, Wiltshire……...yes Wiltshire!! He begins sourcing surplus apples from run down, derelict orchards and trees from random Swindonite’s backyards. He fast gives the sad and sorry suburban trees a new lease of life, and gives the fruit purpose again. The cider which is made from this fruit then makes its way back to the orchards/trees owners – hence Circle Cider. From humble beginnings of a mere 40Ls in his first year, Nick and Circle Cider now produce up to 6000 litres of ethically made Swindon grown cider.


I absolutely love, adore, respect this concept. What a fantastic initiative which restores old fruit trees and gives them new life. Makes me wish I could do something like this here in South Australia. On the back of the Circle Cider labels is reads – “WE WANT YOUR APPLES, if you are near Swindon and have surplus apples, we would love to hear from you. Help us is our quest to make the best of what we already have”. Brilliant, absolutely bloody brilliant in my eyes. Circle Cider is currently in the process of securing distribution of their ciders throughout Australia, so let’s hope this is successful……we need more hand crafted English Cider to take it up to our Aussie interpretations!  
The Circle Cider range includes Cat’s Tongue (dry), Roundabout (Medium) and Butchers Boy (Sweet), all packaged in 500mL bottles. All hand made, and hand crafted by Nick himself in Swindon.

Cats Tongue – Dry (6.1%)

Nice amount of foamy fizzy on pouring into the glass, with a slightly cloudy orange hue. A real distinct soapy, almost French cider apple nose being floral with a lemony twang. It mirrors a Pays de Auge Brut with ease. Quite a complex nose, rich and generous and full of ripe cider apples. Beautifully rustic, right up my alley.
The palate is quite dry and somewhat sour, but the powdery tannins make it a real joy. This is what I love to see in a dry cider. There’s a decent amount of rustic apple flavour here, with an impressive heavier body. A little beery in the finish, with a nice long orange marmalade length. One of the better dry’s I’ve had in recent times.  

The Cat’s Tongue is a damn nice and refreshing dry. Stacked full of flavour and texture which I love. A modest 6.1 per cent makes this a wonderful session drink. Thoroughly enjoyed this.


Roundabouts – Medium (5.6%)
Quite a low level of carbonation here, with just the faintest bead in the glass. Filtered clear, yet still retains the orange hue. The nose is shrouded with wafts of reduction – she’s a bit pongy!! Grubby nose, with lighter hints of green apple. Perhaps made with old, gnarly low nitrogen trees/orchards?? There is some spiced apple aromas lurking in the background, which makes me think if the H2S wasn’t there, the nose would be sublime. (After 5 minutes swirling in the glass, the reduced notes blew off to reveal spiced cinnamon apple, clove and citrus – not too bad after all!)

A medium sweetness welcomes you on the first sip. Small hints of bitter tannins here, with a puckering, dry finish. Not as flavoursome as the dry, and the 5.8 per cent alcohol seems a touch low. A watered down and somewhat flabby finish, but easy drinking and perfect served draft. I could see this cider being popular with regular cider drinkers (minus the reductive nose).

Although not as impressive as the Cat’s Tongue, still a nicely sculpted cider. A couple little minor blemishes, but still a pretty solid cider. On a hot day, this would be in its element.

Butchers Boy – Sweet (7.0%)    

Almost still, with just the faintest bubble on pouring. Golden orange hue again. I may be wrong, but I am getting the feeling all three ciders are the same apples, but with differing amounts of residual and alcohol in them. A touch grubby again in the nose, but with the same spiced apple, rustic edge and lemony twang. This is a nice, bold and rich nose which reminds me of pure pressed out apple juice. Could sniff it for hours. Oddly enough, It also reminds me of the Le Pere Jules Pommeau de Normandie which I reviewed a year or so ago. Oaky, rich and almost raisin like in statue. Lovely.
A beautiful ripe apple sweetness dominates the flavoursome palate. Drying, powdery tannins take over the mid palate and continue on to the finish. A Splenda type mouthfeel stays with you once you have swallowed the cider. The small amount of carbonation adds that lick of excitement which lifts the palate. Nice and fresh with solids apple flavours. There is no sign of the 7 per cent alcohol, which makes me think this cider could slip down way too easily. Quite delicious really. The beauty is the sweetness never gets cloying. Funny how I find Aussie sweets get too sickly sweet, and traditional sweets don’t. Dessert vs. Cider apple perhaps??

A lovely interpretation of a sweet cider. Has everything I like to see, and has a high drinkability. The nose just needs to be cleaned up a touch, then this would be a killer cider (especially in the Australian climate).


Well there you have it. A great opportunity to go through the Circle Cider range. Really nice booze here, with a lot of potential. The bummer was the pongy noses, but these did blow off. Perhaps some CU++ needs to be used? I can really see this brand fitting into mainstream cider in Australia and competing well. They all have that drinkability which Australian’s look for. They are not typical, bland, boring contemporary Aussie moderns, but they are also not full on, confronting farmhouse traditional's. They are the perfect balance between the two and consumers will enjoy that.

Let’s hope we can see them in Australia soon! Thank you to Iva and Nathaniel (Australian Distributors) for giving me the opportunity to taste these ciders.

Producer: Circle Cider
Country: England (Swindon, Wiltshire)


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