While it’s rarely my beverage of choice, I occasionally find myself in the mood for a good cider. Unfortunately, here in the land of the government-run alcohol monopoly, the selection of ciders available to us is generally limited to UK imports such as Strongbow and Blackthorn – mass-produced ciders that are artificially sweetened and carbonated, making them the Bud/Coors/Blue/etc. of the cider world – and similarly mainstream domestics like Growers.
The selection got a little better earlier this year when the LCBO added Stowford Press English Export Cider from Weston’s Cider to their general list. While Weston’s may not be a small artisanal cidery, at least they’re a family owned business producing ciders that are much closer to traditional styles than the industrial muck churned out by the big boys.
So having enjoyed the Stowford Press the couple of times I’d tried it, I was happy to see a pack of three other Weston’s ciders as one of this year’s holiday gift box selections. The selection includes 1880 Cider (8.2% abv), a special blend created in 2005 for Weston’s 125th anniversary; Henry Weston’s Vintage Reserve (8.2% abv), which is aged in oak vats for six months before bottling; and Weston’s Organic (6.5% abv), produced using locally grown organic apples.
I enjoyed all three of them fairly equally, and found them to be quite refreshing and, well, appley. I also thought them to be quite similar to each other in a lot of ways – perhaps too similar. In particular, there is a slight funky/cheesy note to the aroma and flavour of all three of them, as well as the Stowford Press, which I can only assume is a house characteristic shared by all Weston’s ciders. I liked it, but I would’ve preferred a bit more variation between the three.
Anyway, I’m still a cider neophyte, and I’m sure that even the Weston’s offerings would pale in comparison to a fresh local cider enjoyed in a village pub in the UK countryside. But they didn’t disappoint me, and I’d happily take them over a Strongbow any day.