Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cider Review: Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry

As much as I loved writing up my cider travels in Vermont last week, I'm ready to return even more to my cider roots. For me that means english cider, so today I'm sharing my review of Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry

YOu can find out about all of the ciders and wines made by Lyme Bay Winery on the website here: https://www.lymebaywinery.co.uk/

Here's how Lyme Bay Cider Co. presents the brand: 
The UK has the highest per-capita consumption of cider of any country in the world, so it’s no surprise that here at Lyme Bay we are passionate about keeping the skill of West Country cidermaking alive. 
We use nothing but the freshly pressed juice of locally grown, traditional cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill to produce a quality range of real, full-flavoured ciders. We are very proud that our Jack Ratt Scrumpy Cider, Jack Ratt Vintage Cider and Lyme Bay Sparkling Cider have all won numerous awards.
I admit that when I saw the unusually shaped bottle on a shelf in Lizard in Cornwall, I was more than halfway sold already. That, plus the name, and I knew I had to carry this little bottle back to New York and hope it delivered. I did look up what the company says about this cider, so as to know just a little about my choice. The cider's page on the website describes it as, "Still, full bodied, filtered strong cider in a traditional 1ltr glass flagon. Store upright."

and even more intriguingly they list its awards and put a quote (sadly un-cited) that gave me even higher hopes, "This smells of old fashioned Scrumpy, but it's clearly filtered & has been brought forward with modern techniques. It's just gorgeous- it’s got a lightness a refinement, yet it’s not lost any of it's heritage." High praise indeed, but I wish I knew where it came from! 

Anyhow, enough anticipation. Time for the cider itself. 

Appearance: hazy dark copper red, opaque

I have to note that when we got to the bottom of the bottle, this was maybe the single most opaque cider I’ve ever seen. I hate to call it cloudy because the opacity was so consistent. This cider is deep mahogany red. I saw almost no bubbles.

Aromas: Caramel, Leather, Wood, Raisin

 This cider offers up a soft caramel smell, with a nice round, easy gently sour lactic note. I'm guessing it underwent a malo-lactic fermentation. It also smells highly tannic in a way that suggests both wood and the barest hints of metal.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

This cider defies the sweet/dry spectrum as I typically experience it. The cider is called dry, but it doesn't taste dry, but neither does it taste sweet. You'll have to read on to find how it registers instead.

Flavors and drinking experience: still, highly tannic, low acid

Like many of my favorite english ciders, the Jack Ratt is still and extremely tannic. But that's not all it is. I found this cider very mellow and raisiny with an enjoyable and surprising tongue drying action. The Jack Ratt reminds me of a tea made from leather, sweetened with flowers. It also only brings low levels of acid. The cider is anything but cloying.

Bigger swigs bring out a mineral flavor, a little sourness, and some spiciness! I also taste just a hint of olive brine, but its pretty under control. The cider has a surprisingly clean finish, maybe owing to its not too thick mouthfeel. I like it! A lot! The cider brings many of my favorite qualities of english cider while maintaining enough difference to be distinct.

I found the Jack Ratt extremely enjoyable and more than mildly decadent. It goes well with highly flavored savory food: my cider sharer and I had roasted veggies, sharp cheese, a homemade lemon aoli, and hummus, and it cuts them pretty ideally.