Cheap cider, as we all know, is best avoided; synthetic, over-sweet gunk that swiftly becomes undrinkable, and often haunts you the next morning like the Ghost of Fresher’s Week Past (and don’t be fooled by some snazzy marketing and an elegant bottle, the proof is always in the contents).
Good cider, on the other hand, is a drink of rare beauty; complex, punchy and deliciously rewarding.
Somerset-based cider expert Bill Bradshaw – co-author of the award-winning World’s Best Cider – is zealously committed to spreading the good word. "Like many things, cider is simple to make, but very difficult to make well," Bradshaw says. "I’m obsessed with cider culture – the people, the places, the traditions. The way that the land effects the flavour, the soil, the local climate, the apple varieties; all of it."
What’s more, Britain has a fine cider-making heritage, which should be celebrated. Bradshaw says: "Although great cider is made all over the world, we’ve been making huge amounts of it for hundreds of years, really well."
Here’s Esquire’s edit of five traditionally-made, 100 per cent apple juice British ciders that are well worth your time, accompanied by Bradshaw’s expert tasting notes. "There’s really something for everyone here," Bradshaw says, "so if you poisoned yourself many years ago by drinking some rough-as-guts skreach*, try some of these — you’ll be surprised!"
Hover over the icons below to see Bill's notes on each cider.
And Where To Drink It:
"Bristol is (just about) the UK capital of cider," Bradshaw says. "It’s surrounded by cider-makers and apple-growers in nearly every direction. There are a host of great cider pubs and the Bristol cider map [The Naked Guide To Cider] lists the city’s top cider venues.
"However, if you can only go to one place, it should be The Apple, the world’s only floating cider bar. The range of ciders is great and the service is friendly – it is a little cramped on board, but then that’s because it’s an old barge. It sums up cider for me, really – lots of fun, and a little bit different."