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Cider taste test

Move over beer and wine, it's the summer of cider.
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01 .Introduction

We took 42 ciders, 27 apple and 15 pear, and put them through a blind taste test.

Whether you’re after sweet, sparkling, English-style or something else, there’s a cider out there for everyone - as results of our blind taste test show.

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Cider in Australia

Cider is the new black. Cider sales have increased by 34.7% in dollar terms in the past year, with new product development responsible for over a quarter of this growth. Forty five new cider brands have been introduced in the past two years, almost doubling the number of active cider brands in the market. And while Australian liquor sales as a whole are decreasing at 0.5% annually, cider has increased 0.5% in value share over the past 12 months.

So what’s behind this resurgence? Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Australia started catching up to the UK, where cider makes up 12.2% of the market. It’s also a product that appeals to alcopop, beer and wine drinkers alike. Small-scale artisanal cider producers are popping up all over the country, so its comeback may also be related to the current trend to move away from big business back to supporting more traditional cottage industries. As one of our experts put it, “cider is the vinyl of the alcohol industry”.

Whether you’re after sweet, sparkling, English-style or something else, there’s a cider out there for everyone - as results of our blind taste test show.

Cider styles

  • French-style ciders typically undergo a traditional process known as keeving – the removal of nutrients from the juice – followed by a long, slow fermentation, resulting in a naturally sparkling, sweet, clear, full-flavoured cider that tends to be low in alcohol.
  • English-style generally refers to the flavour and mouthfeel of English West Country cider made from true English cider apple varieties. These tend to be rich in tannins, resulting in cider with high levels of astringency and bitterness.
  • Sparkling or still Many of the more traditional varieties of ciders are still, but sparkling ciders are more common. Bottle-conditioned or méthode champenoise ciders have undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle to create the bubbles. Other methods of carbonation include adding carbon dioxide.
  • Dry or sweet A dry cider is achieved by fermenting the juice until most sugars have converted to alcohol. Sweet ciders can be achieved by adding sugar syrups or by pasteurisation, ultra filtration or slow fermentation (see above). The flavour of naturally sweet cider tends to be fruitier since the sweetness is derived from unfermented juice rather than from added sugar.

Ciders tested

  • Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder
  • Badger Applewood Cider
  • Badger Pearwood Cider
  • Batlow Premium Cider
  • Boulard Cidre De Normandie Doux
  • Bulmers Original Cider
  • Bulmers Pear Cider
  • Cidrerie d'Anneville Cidre Traditionnel
  • Coldstream Apple Cider
  • Henney's Dry Cider
  • Kelly Brothers Pure Pear Cider
  • Kelly Brothers Sparkling Cider
  • Kopparberg Pear Cider
  • Le Père Jules Poiré
  • Lobo Apple Cider
  • Magners Original Irish Cider
  • Magners Pear Irish Cider
  • Matilda Bay Dirty Granny
  • Mercury Dry Cider
  • Monteith's Crushed Apple Cider
  • Monteith's Crushed Pear Cider
  • Old Mout Cider Scrumpy
  • Pipsqueak Best Cider
  • Pipsqueak Pear Cider
  • Rekorderlig Premium Pear Cider
  • Samuel Smith's Organic Cider
  • Small Acres Cyder Somerset Still 2009
  • St Helier Apple Cider
  • St Helier Pear Cider
  • Stassen Apple Cider
  • Stassen Pear Cider
  • Strongbow Dry
  • Strongbow Summer Pear Cider
  • Thatchers Green Goblin
  • The Hills Cider Company Apple Cider
  • The Hills Cider Company Pear Cider
  • Three Kings Cider
  • Three Oaks Cider Co Apple Cider
  • Three Oaks Cider Co Pear Cider
  • Tooheys 5 Seeds
  • Westons Cider Perry
  • Westons Henry Weston's Oak Aged Herefordshire Cider 2010

How we test

  • The cider selection on test is a combination of the most popular products sold in liquor outlets in Australia, as nominated by distributors that are members of the Liquor Merchants Association of Australia, and some of the more widely available ciders from artisanal producers in Australia.
  • The ciders are tasted blind, identified only by numbers. Expert tasters independently give the ciders a score out of 20, taking appearance, aroma and palate into consideration.
  • The score published in the table is a consensus score reached when the experts discuss the cider after tasting, still without knowing the brand. To reach consensus experts were required to judge the ciders on their merits, setting aside personal preferences.

Meet the experts


In order, from left to right

  • Max Allen is an award-winning wine columnist, author and backyard cider-maker. He was chief judge of the Australian Cider Awards in 2011, and is about to start small-scale commercial cider production.
  • Mike Bennie is a wine and drinks writer and journalist whose work appears in such publications as Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine and leading wine review website He is an active wine show judge and tastes ciders on industry panels.
  • Chris Foster has been working in the wine industry for more than 20 years. He oversees the independent group of Annandale Cellars, Cremorne Cellars and Northbridge Cellars, one of the major sponsors of the Australian Cider Awards 2011.
  • James Kendell began his 18-year career in the beverage and hospitality industry by cutting his teeth on cider and cider-making while living in the UK. He is the owner and founder of Small Acres Cyder, an award-winning cidery situated in the applegrowing region of Orange, NSW.

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