My dad loves cider, so it’s one of those drinks that I have nostalgic feelings about; it makes me think of sunny days and being allowed a little sip of it when I was younger. Since I’m now a grown up and can drink more than a sip, I really enjoy trying out new ciders so I was really excited to have the opportunity to attend a tutored cider tasting by Thatchers. Pasture was our venue for the night, and they provided the wonderful food. Pasture also has an amazing mural by Jody, of whom I’m a big fan.
When I arrived I was welcomed with a glass of Thatchers Family Reserve which is a sparkling apple wine. It is based on a recipe developed in the early 1900’s by William Thatcher and is very similar to champagne or prosecco. It is a deliciously light, delicate fizz and deceptively strong at 11%!
Next, we sat down and Thatchers’ chief cider-maker Richard Johnson talked us through the history of the company and introduced each cider in turn. I was surprised to find out that Thatchers really is a family of cider makers called Thatchers! I had assumed that it was a marketing ploy and that there had never actually been a Mr Thatcher. In fact, the current managing director, Martin Thatcher, is the fourth generation to head the company, and they are still based at the original location, Myrtle Farm. I’d only had one glass of fizz at this point so I’m confident that my warm glow was one of being impressed rather than tipsy-ness…
Onto the food and cider tastings. First up was Thatchers Katy. This was one cider that I’d tried before but I didn’t know that it is named after the Katy apple – one of the apple varieties most-used by Thatchers. At 7.4% it’s perfect for sunshiney drinks and its light summery flavour has strawberry notes. Pasture paired the Katy with a scallop ceviche with pickled gooseberry, lime, ‘tigers milk’ and coriander. The fresh, zingy flavours worked really well together.
Next up was Thatchers Haze. I loved this one. It is crisp and sweet, and gentle on the alcohol at only 4.5%. It was absolutely moreish and definitely my favourite cider of the night. This was served with Forgotten Onions en Croute wish summer squash. This is the dish you can see in the photo below. I was bowled over by the combination of the buttery, flaky pastry, the creamy squash and sweet onions. And just look at the use of edible flower petals. A think of beauty!
The Haze/Forgotten Onions was a hard act to follow, but the next course mixed it up by switching to a rich, punchy Short Rib Croquette with gouchong aioli and nasturtiums. The spicy aioli was lick-the-plate fantastic and I loved how it complimented the croquette. The flavours needed to be powerful in this course because the cider, 7.4% Thatchers Vintage, is a stronger, oak-matured traditional cider. If you like that ‘farm’ flavour – this is the one for you!
Our next course featured 8.4% Thatchers Redstreak which was named the best sparkling cider in the world in the 2017 World Cider Awards! The taste is smooth and distinctive. The tasting notes mention that it has an almost apple pie spiciness to it. I must admit that by this point in the evening I was definitely a little tipsy, so I don’t have a strong memory of this cider but it sounds delicious and is one I’d be keen to try again with a clearer head! Pasture complimented this cider with a chia cracker topped with a wafer thin slice of cured duck breast with juniper and orange marmalade. I enjoyed this new take on the classic duck and orange pairing.
Our penultimate cider was Thatchers Old Rascal which despite the name is a relatively gentle 4.5%. It is medium dry and shares some of the same apple content with Redstreak and is perfect with everything from spicy foods to fruity desserts. This cider was accompanied by smoked steak tartare, oyster mayonnaise and borage. I’d never tried steak tartare before and I loved it. Pasture pride themselves on the quality of their beef (check out the display upstairs if you go in!) and I felt confident that if I was going to try something new, this was the place to do it.
Finally, feeling a little fuzzy around the edges, was our last-but-not-least cider, 7.4% Summer Vintage. Similar to my favourite, Haze, this is a light cider with a touch of floral sweetness. Another one I can definitely imagine drinking in the garden on a sunny day. This was served with a sweet course; a hazelnut eclair with praline creme and raspberries. This was an absolutely glorious dessert; light but satisfying.
And with that, we all stumbled out into the summer evening! As I write, it’s also very warm and sunny so I’m now going to head to the garden with a bottle of Thatchers that I’d been saving until I hit ‘publish’. Anyone else enjoying a cider in the garden this evening?
Thanks so much to Thatchers, Pasture and Heather Cowper for inviting me.