This is my second blog and I’m sticking with a single variety, as this week it’s the Kingston Black Cider from Hecks in Somerset.
Hecks have been making cider for a considerable amount of time, since 1841 and for six generations to be exact. They started selling their cider from their farm shop in Street back in 1896. True to their roots they still use traditional methods, fermenting in wooden barrels, which you can buy draught directly from. I have to confess that I have been to Street before, but sadly didn’t realise the gem of a cider farm located there, so haven’t had the pleasure of a visit.
Hecks make a lot of different ciders from the apples grown in their orchards, which include Tremlett’s Bitter, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Morgan Sweet and many more. They make blends and single varieties, many of which are available online as ‘bag in a box’ but less are available in bottles, but one you can get in a bottle is their Kingston Black. As there is only a front label on the bottle, there isn’t much information about the cider but on their website (www.heckscider.com) they describe it as,
“classic in appearance, taste and strength. It is copper coloured, rounded, almost velvety in texture and is full of flavour.”
Now I’ve tried it, I can tell you this is a cider that really packs a punch. First open of the bottle reveals a rich, deep aged apple scent. It smells dry too, you can almost feel the moisture being sucked out of your nose. Initial taste is like an acidic aged cheddar, this would be an ideal cider partner to a cheese board. Following that it becomes slightly dry in the mouth, followed by a subtle sweetness in the finish. It is very complex; every sip seems to uncover other taste notes. Left in the glass for a few minutes the cheesy dryness becomes more understated and the apple scent becomes much fresher and more pronounced. It has a very delicate fizz and I find myself quaffing it away with relish.
How does this cider compare to others I hear you ask?
Well, despite its widespread use in the early 19th Century, the Kingston Black isn’t as favoured these days. As cider apples go, it is more prone to disease and poor cropping, which is a shame because it makes a fantastic drop.
Sheppy’s make one and last time I tried it I found it too strong; I could taste the high alcohol by volume, which was 7.2% if I remember correctly. I notice that now they make it at 6.5% which may well have improved it for my taste buds. I will have to try it again at some point. If you’d like to sample the more delicate notes of this apple though, I can highly recommend the Kingston Black Aperitif from the Somerset Cider Brandy Company. They blend Kingston Black apple juice with cider brandy.
But back to Hecks, if you ordered the March subscription box then you should have got a bottle of this beauty if you haven’t tried it yet...what are you waiting for?!?