Aspall Imperial English Cider
Aspall Imperial English Cider (8.2% alcohol by volume) is now known as Aspall Imperial Vintage with a vintage number demonstrating the marketing acumen of its new owners, Molson-Coors. Fortunately they have not screwed around with the cider. They enhance the cider's flavor by using bittersweet apples from a single year's crop. The apple varieties include bittersweet, culinary and dessert apples. The aromas start with spicy apples, ripe apples, faint butter, a hint of funk, some fruit, and mild alcohol. It pours brilliant copper amber with a hint of legs and slight signs of light carbonation, kicking up a thin white cap that quickly dissipates. The color is constant from the center to the rim and the cider has good reflectance. The first thing you notice on the flavor is a mild sweetness and how nicely it balances with the tartness and the bitter tannins on the finish. The apple flavors are complex and spicy showing different degrees of ripeness and different varieties, some apple skin, a hint of light phenols and light earthiness and a dab of astringency on the long, lingering finish. The smooth alcohol works with the other elements adding flavors but does not overwhelm and is not hot or harsh. It provides a gentle warming. The body is medium full and the carbonation is low. This cider stands out for how well everything works together and for what a pleasure it is to drink. Drink this alone or with a cassoulet, a Tuscan wedding soup, Sausage and Cannellini Bean Penne, or a wedge of Stinking bishop cheese or absent that, some Epoisse and a baguette. I have had Aspall Imperial English Cider several times and the rating is always 90.