THE SECOND BARREL ROOM SERIES:
This time around we have picked some of the tastiest and potentially tastiest barrels, from all 4 of the barrel rooms. Displaying different characteristics but all are or will be, scrumptious, still and food friendly.
The second barrel room series is an opportunity to find out about how time affects barrel fermented and matured cider and perry. I am going to suggest that you drink some of these now and let others develop in bottle by storing the bottles horizontally in the cool and dark for another 6 months or 18 months. No sulphites have been added at any stage and the cider and perry has been bottled “live” and so is capable of “ageing” in bottle.
The below is lifted with much thanks and credit, from Prickly Cider’s blog, https://pricklycider.com/ the following describes cider ageing:
“Like wine, the longer you age a cider, the more it evolves the compounds that impact aroma and flavour. B. Jarvis defined a list of common aroma and flavour compounds found in cider(1). It is these compounds that are often impacted by maturation or aging of cider. Some compounds are created and some are lost. Generally, fruity esters are found in cider that is consider young or not aged long (like white wine). The longer a cider is matured, the more those fruity aromas are converted to spicier and phenolic notes. However, it’s not just about esters. There are lots of compounds that are impacted. That is because time enables reactions like autolysis, Malolactic Fermentation (MLF), and Maillard Reactions to occur. Check out the list of common aroma compounds. The desirable compounds are in bold while the undesirable ones are underlined.
Key Aroma Compounds Evolved During Maturation
Ethanol; Propan-1-ol; Butanol-1-ol; Hexan-1-ol; 2/3-methylbutan; Iso-pentan-1-ol; Heptan-1-ol; 2-phenylethanol
Malic; Lactic; Acetic; Hexanoic; Succinic; Butyric; Nonanoic; Octanoic;
Acetaldehyde; Benzaldehyde; Butyaldehyde; Hexanal; Nonanal
Pyruvate; Decalactone; Decan-2-one
Amyl, Butly, & Ethyl Acetate; Butly & Ethyl Lactate; Ethyl Guiacol; Diethyl Succinate; Ethyl Benzoate;
Ethyl Hexanoate; Ethyl-2/Ethyl-3-Methylbutyrate; Ethyl Octanoate; Ethyl Octenoate; Ethyl Decanoate; Ethyl Dodecanoate
Methanediol; Ethanthiol; Ethyl-methyl-disulfide
Desirable, Undesirable (Source: B. Jarvis(2))
(1) B. Jarvis, Cider (Cyder; Hard Cider), Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, Volume 1, 437-443, 2014
So that is a bit of information regarding ageing. Now follows a little bit of detail about the 8 bottles with the first 6 BEING THE CASE SELECTION.
1.MOUTHFUL OF PERRY (Blend #1) Barrels 18/20 + 51/20 were selected and blended.
This harvest blend of perry pears from Simon Dent contains Blakeney Red, early Gin, early Butt, Red and Winnals Longdon and some late Moorcroft. The Whitehouse Orchard lies in Preston Wynne, just up the road from Oliver’s in Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire.
Simon is one of our closest partner orchards and a very real supporter of all that we are trying to do at Oliver’s.
Alcohol: 6.6% vol.
Specific Gravity: 1007 Quite a lot sweetness due to the unfermentable sugars (usually sorbitol) in pears.
(This is the only bottle containing a very small amount of sulphites but not enough to impact any ageing potential.)
Tasting Notes: The dark molasses coloured perry gives the game away and there is no doubting which barrels these perries have been fermented and matured in. The rum is strong on the nose but there is no shortage of pear in the taste. The juicy pear taste and texture is there in the flavour and mouthfeel. The 3 perries in this series are so called because all I wanted to do was fill my mouth full of these perries and slug them down.
Could age for 6 months or more.
2.MOUTHFUL OF PERRY #2 (Barrel 54/20) was selected.
This second Whitehouse Orchard blend from 2020 has more Blakeney Red & Gin Perry Pears in as we have got further into the season and the crop.
Once again fermented and aged in rum barrels that have made their way to these shores from the Caribbean.
Alcohol: 6.8% vol.
Specific Gravity: 1004.
Tasting notes: So a much more normal perry wheat tinged liquid. The evidence of the rum barrel is minimal in this blend. Just big juicy mouthfuls of an (almost) dry perry, citrus and pineapple chunks top the fore.
The adventurous could always try blending Mouthful #1 and #2, if both bottles were open.
Ready to drink now.
3.ROSALIE CIDER (Barrel 45/20) was selected.
A blend from my Home Orchard in Ocle Pychard of mid season cider apples. Varieties in the home orchards are Breakwell Seedling, Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Yarlington Mill, Bloody Turk, Major, Ball’s Bittersweet and Frederick.
Picked in October 2020 and then fermented and aged in an older whisky barrel from Scotland.
Alcohol: 6.8% vol.
Specific Gravity 999. So fully fermented. No sugars left to ferment.
Tasting Notes: Pours a light gold. Apple puree with a touch of oak on the nose before the chewy, spicey fruit fills the mouth.
Named in recognition of Canadian broadcast legend Rosalie Trombley, a trailblazer for women in the music industry who was immortalized by Bob Seger in his 1973 single “Rosalie” as “everybody’s favourite little record girl.” She died on November 2021 at the age of 82. Bob Seger sang, “she knows music…she’s got the power” in his song about Rosalie Trombley, who for nearly two decades served as music director of the influential top 40 station CKLW-AM/The Big 8, situated in the Canadian border city of Windsor across from Detroit. The song has been performed by Bob Seger and Thin Lizzy and is a cracker.
In Canada, The Rosalie Award (which started as the Trail Blazers Award) was created to inspire young women to enter the broadcast industry. This was eventually shortened to the Rosalie Award in her honour.
“Rosalie was an icon, a trailblazer, and a friend,” says Seger “Through her hard work and incredible instincts, she achieved a rare level of influence and power in music. When she got behind your record other stations would follow suit. She was literally a gatekeeper to national success and we were so fortunate to have her support, especially on many of our early records. She was an integral part of our journey and we are eternally grateful. We will miss her.”
4.HOME ORCHARD CIDER BLEND 2020 (Barrel 16/20) was selected.
This is a later season blend of cider apples, picked in November 2020 in my Home Orchard in Ocle Pychard and again fermented & aged in an older whisky barrel.
Varieties in the home orchards are Breakwell Seedling, Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Yarlington Mill, Bloody Turk, Major, Ball’s Bittersweet and Frederick, :
Alcohol: 6.1% vol – Strength down slightly.
SG 1001. Not quite so strong because the cider is not quite fully fermented. Can you tell by taste?
Tasting Notes: Pours a bright gold. Full fruit and oak aroma. Fresh fruit in the mouth with some tangy acidity and a touch of cheese.
Could age well.
5.A CLASSIC COMBO (Barrel 14/20) was selected.
As Ross on Wye Cider have elevated the Bulmers bush orchard duo to new levels in their “Raison d’Etre”, so we pay homage to the 2 most widely planted cider apples in the UK over the last 50 years. There is a reason why these 2 varietals in terms of orcharding character, fruiting potential, disease susceptibility, harvesting time etc. have such a pedigree.
I like Dabinett because of its spicey, Seville orangey flavours and overall structure give a great backbone and character to our wild fermented ciders and increasing depth over time. Michelin gives wonderful appley, lighter fruity and spicey notes and does not alter to much over time so makes a great “drinking” cider base for us.
This blend of Dabinett and Michelin from Brian’s Orchard in Burley Gate from Season 2020 and racked into barrel to age in 2021. There is about 10% Foxwhelp, 65% Dabinett and 25% Michelin. Fermented in steel and then aged in an old whisky barrel.
Brian’s orchard has an interesting history. His father “Mac” Mcillwrick owned and ran the Burley Gate pub for many years and worked closely with Bulmers subsequently and so were offered the chance to plant a bush orchard at the very start of these plantings. It has been in
some 50 years now, 20 years beyond their maximum life expectancy. It has been managed on a no spray or fertiliser basis for the last 20 years and is heavily biennial but in great heart and exceeding all expectations.
Alcohol: 6.2% vol.
Specific Gravity: 1001-so a touch of residual sweetness which we find Michelin quite often gives under a wild yeast ferment.
Tasting Notes: Opens with a little pop as the residual sugars are still working. Light gold in colour. A touch of farm and funk on the nose from the conditioning yeast. Nice pushy acidity from the Foxwhelp keeps the Dabinett/Michelin fruit fresh to the finish.
Drinks great right now but could age.
6.SOUR GRAPES (Barrel 13/20) was selected.
The final bottle is another Home Orchard Cider Apple Blend and worth comparing with Rosalie because it is a very similar apple blend that went into the barrels and amazing the difference between them. Varieties in the home orchards are Breakwell Seedling, Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Yarlington Mill, Bloody Turk, Major, Ball’s Bittersweet and Frederick.
This vinous cider is surely one of my favourites of the 2020 season barrels. Apple wine, no way, cider, as it should be and always was.
Picked in October 2020 and fermented and aged in an old whisky barrel.
Alcohol: 6.3% vol. Decent.
Specific Gravity: 1001
Tasting Notes: Pours gold. All juicy, apple fruit on the nose. Vinous. Touch of sour, touch of sharp, loads of ripe fruit, all cradled in oak.
Could age well.
These final 2 bottles are ONLY available separately and will be in the shop soon!
7.MOUTHFUL OF PERRY #3 (Barrel 17/20) was selected.
Why “Mouthful of Perry”? Well because I found myself savouring these 3 rum barrel perries, taking a big glug and moving it around the mouth, letting the many characteristics come through over time and relishing the impact of the rum barrels.
This later season Whitehouse Orchard 2020 blend featuring Blakeney Red and Red Longdon perry pears is once again fermented and aged in a rum barrel.
Alcohol: 7.0% vol.
Specific Gravity 1006.
Tasting Notes: This is juicy, chewy and a fun mouthful. The barrel is in hand and the pear in charge.
This is ready to drink now.
8.HOME ORCHARD BLEND 2018 . (Barrel 26/18) was selected.
This is the same Home Orchard, same late season harvest but a couple of years earlier and so in the barrel for 2 extra years and the alcohol is up and the SG way down, so those wild yeasts and their spontaneous fermentation have without any further assistance, gone on a deep dive. The orchard is biennial so the blend of varieties should be comparable. Varieties in the home orchards are Breakwell Seedling, Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Yarlington Mill, Bloody Turk, Major, Ball’s Bittersweet and Frederick
Alcohol: 10.1% vol. Nice.
SG .994 Strongly drying in all aspects!
Tasting Notes: A deeper golden colour as befits the 4 years in barrel. The gentle oak envelope is pushed hard by pungent fruit, lifted by the alcohol. The driest of all the BRS but the oak brings a kiss of sweetness and vanilla to this “take no prisoners” cider. Sip and enjoy this liquid apple crumble.
This is ready to drink now.