I was really impressed by this. It’s a new cider made by Ben Slater, who comes from a wine background (he works for The Sampler). He’s made a pretty natural cider that would really appeal to wine folk, with its almost vinous quality.
‘The vision for this was really to make a quality, balanced cider that is focused on the provenance of fruit in it,’ says Ben. ‘When I say balanced, I mean I wanted to bring some acidity to focus and carry the fruit in the same way as wine does. This has been done by fruit blending alone right down to me trudging fields and taste testing for individual trees to bring it in as I wanted.’
‘Honestly I feel that the heritage around, expertise within (that which hasn’t died off unheard) and just outright quality of our cider apple crop is a massively undervalued thing. My grower has travelled the world studying fruit farming and brought all sorts of vineyard techniques such as biodynamic practices and proper soil work to bear on his farm, only to see his crop get blended with concentrate and sugar to be dumped into Bulmers’.
‘I believe Pollen is different because there’s been no compromise. I’m not interested in sweetening/manipulating/
‘What I want to do in the long run is develop a two or three line product range (in development now) and help passionate, quality focussed growers to innovate and raise the standard of cider apple farming by offering them price incentives to do so. There are all the possibilities in terms of diversity and quality of cider that exist in wine but in its own right. It is a fruit we in England can ripen well and make truly compelling drinks from consistently.’
Pollen Cider (2014 vintage) Herefordshire
6.5% alcohol. This bottle-conditioned cider is lovely, with high acidity and a slightly sour note. It’s a dry cider with real bite. Lovely focus and concentration. Refreshing, spicy and detailed with a nice savouriness to the bitter apple fruit. 8.5/10