Traditional Ciders encompass those produced in the West Country of England (notably Somerset and Herefordshire), Northern France (notably Normandy and Brittany), and other regions in which cider-specific apple varieties (often tannic) and production techniques are used to achieve a profile similar to English and French ciders.
Most ciders in the English sub-style will be entered in the Traditional Cider – Dry class (sweetness level is dry or medium-dry). Most ciders in the French sub-style will be entered in the Traditional Cider – Sweet class (sweetness level is medium-sweet or sweet). These levels indicate an overall tendency, not a sharp delineation between the sweetness of typical English and French ciders.
English: This sub-style includes West Country ciders and other ciders inspired by that tradition. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cidermaking (tannin content greater than 1500ppm). English ciders are traditionally fermented and aged in wood barrels, which adds some character; however, the barrels used are rarely new, so there is no overt wood character.
French: This sub-style includes ciders from Normandy and Brittany and other ciders inspired by that tradition, including ciders made by keeving or other techniques to achieve the French flavor profile. These ciders are made with bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties cultivated specifically for cider making (tannin content greater than 1500ppm).
Traditional French keeving procedures use small amounts of calcium compounds to aid the process of pectin coagulation. These compounds may be used in limited quantities prior to fermentation. It is a fault if judges can detect a salty or chalky taste. The enzyme PME (pectin methyl esterase) may also be used prior to fermentation for pectin coagulation. French ciders are traditionally fermented and aged in wood, which may add some wood character; however, the wood used is rarely new, so there should not be overt wood character.
Modern Bittersweet: This sub-style includes ciders made with a significant proportion of bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties (tannin content greater than 1500ppm) blended with multi-purpose or dessert/culinary varieties to produce a robust cider with significant tannin and acid. This sub-style is also appropriate for bittersweet and bittersharp ciders fermented using contemporary techniques that result in less malolactic character and/or lower volatile phenolics (barnyard/horse/spice) than traditional English and French ciders.
English: Complex apple character with various flavors and esters that suggest apples, particularly tannic varieties. English ciders commonly go through malolactic fermentation (MLF); if MLF notes are present, they should not dominate or distract. Volatile phenolics such as spice/smoke or farmyard/horse may be present, but should not dominate or obtrude. Mouse is a serious fault. Solvent (acetone) or nail polish (ethyl acetate) aromas are serious faults.
French: Fruity character/aroma. This may be obtained by slow or arrested fermentation (as with keeving) or approximated by backsweetening with juice. Tends to a rich fullness. MLF notes and/or volatile phenolics such as spice/smoke or farmyard/horse are common. If present, these should not dominate or obtrude. Mouse is a serious fault. Solvent (acetone) or nail polish (ethyl acetate) aromas are serious faults.
Modern Bittersweet: Complex apple character with various flavors and esters that suggest apples. Modern Bittersweet ciders are robust and highlight the complementary aromas of multi-purpose and tannic apple varieties. Generally clean fermented with lower volatile phenolics. Mouse is a serious fault. Solvent (acetone) or nail polish (ethyl acetate) aromas are serious faults.
English: Cloudy to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.
French: Clear to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.
Modern Bittersweet: Cloudy to brilliant. Medium yellow to amber color.
English: Full. Moderate to high tannin, perceived as significant astringency that should not be harsh or overwhelming. Carbonation is still to moderate. Bottle-fermented or bottle-conditioned ciders may have high carbonation, up to champagne levels, but should not gush or foam.
French: Typically made with some degree of residual sugar to balance the tannin levels from traditional apple varieties. Medium to sweet, full-bodied, rich, mouth-filling. Moderate tannin, perceived as astringency. Carbonation is moderate to champagne-like, but at higher levels should not gush or foam.
Modern Bittersweet: Full bodied, robust. Significant tannin and acid perception, but should not be harsh or overwhelming. Low to high carbonation, but should not gush or foam.
English: Generally drying with significant mouthfeel. Complex flavor profile, long finish.
French: Balanced tannins and sweetness. Fruity, full-bodied, rich, voluptuous.
Modern Bittersweet: Robust flavor profile, significant tannin and acid perception. Low volatile phenolics.
English: Sweet examples exist, but dry is most common, particularly when considering the drying contributions of tannin.
French: Dry examples exist, but off-dry to sweet is most common.
Modern Bittersweet: Can range from dry to sweet, but must be drinkable and balanced without being harsh or overwhelming.
English: Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Dabinett, Porter’s Perfection, Yarlington Mill, Major, various Jerseys, and so on.
French: Muscadet de Dieppe, Reine des Pommes, Domaines, Médaille d’Or, and so on.
Modern Bittersweet: Any classic bittersweet/bittersharp apple variety or suitable wildlings, blended with multi-purpose apples. Ciders that lack significant tannin and are made primarily with multi-purpose or dessert/culinary varieties should be entered in Heritage Cider.
The entrant may specify the apple variety (or varieties) in the Additional Information section. If specified, judges will expect varietal character.
If ABV is above typical range, the entrant should provide details on growing conditions, apple varieties and/or production methods.
English: ABV: 5–9%
French: ABV: 3–6%
Modern Bittersweet: 3–9%