Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cider Review: Symond's Scrumpy Jack Premium English Cider

I still have a few ciders to break out when I'm missing England. When I was reading about The Royal Bath and West Show last week, missing England became the foremost thought in my mind. Please join me in being fascinated by learning more about it: This year a few of my American cider friends including Eric West of Cider Guide ( were there, and I look forward to reading about their experiences. But, enough of my jealous and longings, that's just how I choose Scrumpy Jack for this week.

Symonds Scrumpy Jack is a brand that was acquired by Bulmers, but dates back to 1727. Now, since Bulmers is owned by Heineken, that makes Scrumpy Jack a brand owned by them, but the cider is still made in Hereford, England.

My own experience with the cider was finding it on a late night snack run to a corner store when I was in London last May. I hadn't seen many canned ciders in the UK, so I picked it up. It doesn't hurt that a B&B owner tried to nickname me Scrumpy on a previous trip to Norwich.

I cannot find a complete webpage about Symonds as a brand or Scrumpy Jack. Unfortunately, all of the URLs I can find simply time out. I did find subpage on Heineken UK's website.

Here's what that page has to say about Scrumpy Jack, "Scrumpy Jack was first produced in 1727 by Symonds Cider and appeals to the discerning drinker who enjoys a refreshing drink with flavour and strength. It is made entirely from locally grown bitter-sweet cider apples, including Dabinett and Chisel Jersey and is a premium cider with a natural fruity aroma and superior crisp taste." 6% ABV.

Perhaps, I can offer a beautiful advertisement for Symonds Founder's Reserve from 2015 instead. Its lovely.

I've reviewed one Symonds cider before. I tried the Founder's Reserve at a pub in Cornwall. You can read my tasting notes here in the second part of my writeup of that trip.

Appearance: brilliant, dark burnished gold, dissipating head

This cider stands out so much after having had mostly American ciders for a few weeks. This color is deep and rich and warm. I'm also a bit surprised by the head. This cider looks different, no question. Its easy to see that's brilliant, but those other characteristics stand out more.

Aromas: dusty, woody, sweet, sawdust, apples

Scrumpy Jack smells really dusty, a little woody and a little sweet. The smell appealingly reminds me of sawdust and apples.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

Whether arrested fermentation or backsweetened, this cider is not dry. The sweetness is married well to the rich mouthfeel.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannin, medium acid, clean, great mouthfeel

Let me start by saying that this doesn't taste scrumpy like. I associate that term with farmy still ciders. The Scrumpy Jack instead is pleasant, easy drinking mainstream english cider from a very large company.

Scrumpy Jack offers up medium bubbles, a bit surprising because it pours with a head. More typically for an english cider the mouth feel is dominated by high tannins. I can taste low to medium acid and the cider is semi-sweet. This tastes likes a clean fermentation, maybe backsweetened. 

In terms of the more subjective perceptions, I get a gentle balsa or pine not. The finish is clean, but there's a neat note of high-fat cream (with only pleasant mouthfeel. The Scrumpy Jack recalls Thatcher's Green Goblin ( Woodchuck's Local Nectar, just a bit. What I'm noticing is that its edges have been smoothed, but it's by no means unpleasant, or even boring. just cool, solid and balanced.

Nice big drinks are refreshing. I love its sweet citrus, grape skin and Bosc pear. 

This is a pleasant sweet English cider, and I'd definitely recommend having it on its own or with cheddar. Keep it simple and full of flavor.