This week I’m tasting Saxby’s; 3 Point 9. Marketed as a “thirst-quenching, very drinkable, session cider”. Now “session cider” is a phrase I seem to be hearing more of lately and I think it’s an attempt to make ‘Real Cider’ more accessible. Purists will tell you that all cider should be dry and over 6% abv, but truth is not everyone wants to drink a cider that strong or that dry. So makers are expanding their ranges to appeal to wider tastes and that is a great move. Saxby’s ethos includes “flavour that can be enjoyed by everyone”. The industry needs more customers to help it grow and one way to do that is cater to more tastes. The trick is doing it without compromising on quality or ingredients and Saxby’s are proud to maintain both.
Philip Saxby diversified into cider making back in 2011 after planting orchards for juice then deciding to try his hand at cider making. Saxby’s cider hails from the Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire border on the family farm in Farndish. They grow their own apples which are both English cider and dessert varieties and also use others from Northamptonshire and Herefordshire farmers. They then turn the juice into their range of award winning ciders using traditional methods and skilled blending. Their fruit blends are made with real juice, no syrups or flavourings.
A pop of the bottle top releases a crisp sharp apple scent. You can also smell acidity with a woody edge to it. It pours a bubbly light straw colour and the initial taste is a hit of bubbles followed by that crisp apple. This is followed by a slightly watery note which gives way to acidity and then breaks into sweetness. It certainly leaves you wanting more…another sip and then another. It reminds me a little of prosecco in the mouth feel and although Saxby’s don’t say exactly what apples they use in this one, I thought the taste comparable to Cidersmiths’ Harry Masters Jersey. On their website they list some of the varieties they use, such as Black Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black and Bramley, so watch me be totally wrong on the Harry Masters Jersey.
So to summarise, this is a fantastically refreshing cider. Crisp and light with a great balance of acidity. As a session cider it fits the bill perfectly, if you’re in the beer garden or your own garden for a few hours and want to have several bottles without the 6-7% leg wobble, then you can’t go wrong with a bottle of 3 Point 9, which is obviously 3.9%. Before this, I’d only tried Saxby’s plum cider, which was delightful and bursting with ripe fruit. I now find myself curious to try the rest of the range, many of which are available through Crafty Nectar’s ‘build your own cider box’. So if you like the sound of a cracking session cider, or perhaps you like a twist of fruit in there, then get your order in.
James Finch @thecidercritic