I first took note of Henry of Harcourt’s cider at one of the many food exhibitions held near Federation Square. I think it was 2007 and I was carefully taken through their complete range of ciders and perry. One very large pour after another.
Henry of Harcourt offer a couple of ciders, a perry and range of fortified ciders and apple cider vinegars. On taste for me this afternoon is the Perry, Original Cider and the insane Duck and Bull Premium Draught Cider. Not for the faint of heart, each Henry of Harcourt offering is honest, punchy and full of fruit flavour.
First to the Perry. As soon as I poured this sparkling pear wine it was obvious what it was all about. Real pears and real flavour. Light in colour, if not slightly golden, with a subtle carbonation and an appealing cloudiness. The aroma is all pear, fresh, inviting but with enough life to remind you of the 7.4% ABV. I was torturing myself by just looking and smelling the product, so it was onto the taste. An initial spice, if not slightly bitter taste was promptly followed by the unmistakable taste of fresh pear and then rounded off nicely with the ferment. A really stunning example of what good perry should taste like.
Somewhat shaken, but certainly not rattled, it was off the perry and straight into the original cider. The word ‘original’ in the title is not a marketing term, let me assure you. This cider was dry, crisp and full of the pink lady apples that gave their juice to be part of this cider. Golden in colour, slightly sweet on the nose and almost tannic in flavour, the original cider was a contradiction of terms. After the perry I wanted to like it, however the dryness is simply too much for my palate and I’m left wanting more flavour and less astringent, saliva-zapping emptiness. Not bad, but nothing superb.
By the time I get to the Duck and Bull Premium Draught Cider, I must say that I feel like I have most certainly taken one for the team. Fallen upon the sword, if you will. With the perry at 7.4% ABV and the original cider at 8.5%, the Duck and Bull was set to blow my socks off at a whopping 9.0% alcohol. And blow my socks off it did, not just with alcohol, but with a nose that took me back to ye olde England and a palate that screams, “more bulls than poultry”! Gutsy, honest and packed full of fruit, the Duck and Bull was easily my favourite.
So next time you find yourself in Harcourt, be sure to check out Henry of Harcourt. Their cider has certainly won me over, even if by ABV.
Check them out here.