This includes the English “West Country” plus ciders inspired by that style. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making. English ciders are traditionally fermented and aged in wood barrels, which adds some character; however, the barrels used are rarely new, so there is no overt wood character.
Aroma/Flavor: No overt apple character, but various flavors and esters that suggest apples, particularly tannic varieties. English-style ciders commonly go through malolactic fermentation (MLF) which produces desirable spicy/smoky, phenolic, and farmyard/old-horse characters. These flavor notes are positive but not required. If present, they must not dominate; in particular, the phenolic and farmyard notes should not be heavy. A strong farmyard character without spicy/smoky or phenolic suggests a Brettanomyces contamination, which is a fault. Mousiness is a serious fault.
Appearance: Barely cloudy to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.
Mouthfeel: Full. Moderate to high tannin, perceived as astringency and some bitterness. Carbonation still to moderate. Bottle-fermented or -conditioned ciders may have high carbonation, up to champagne levels, but not gushing or foaming.
Overall Impression: Generally dry, full-bodied, austere. Complex flavor profile, long finish.
Comments: Sweet examples exist, but dry is most traditional, particularly when considering the drying contributions of tannin.
Entry Instructions: Entrants MUST specify carbonation level (3 levels). Entrants MUST specify sweetness (5 levels). Entrants MAY specify variety of apple for a single varietal cider; if specified, varietal character will be expected.
Varieties: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Porter’s Perfection, Nehou, Yarlington Mill, Major, various Jerseys, etc.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.050 – 1.075 FG: 0.995 – 1.015 ABV: 6 – 9%
Commercial Examples: [UK] Oliver’s Traditional Dry, Hogan’s Dry and Medium Dry, Henney’s Dry and Vintage Still, Burrow Hill Medium, Aspall English Imperial. [US] Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry.