Cider may be experiencing its greatest period of popularity for many a decade but the foundation of that success owes little to traditionally made products. Rather it’s been the products of marketing departments – and countries not typically regarded as cider lands – that have led to the explosion of cider consumption (my guess is that genuine interest in these products is rather lacking among their drinkers, however). I don’t need to name names as you’ll know which brands I mean.
A few better products from large-scale, established English producers such as Thatchers or Westons can usually be found in the aisles. However, there’s still a real dearth of anything out of the ordinary cider-wise in local supermarkets I use in the East London and Essex areas. Which is why The Co-op’s Tillington Hills Premium Cider is so notable.
Made from apples grown on The Co-op’s Tillington Fruit Farm in Herefordshire, Tillington Hills cider avoids the fad for single varietal ciders, instead offering a blend of Tillington Ladies’ Finger (apparently rare), Bulmers Norman, Mitchelin, Dabonnet and Yarlington Mill apple varieties. The end product is deep orange-gold coloured, lightly sparkling and 6% ABV. On the palate the cider is dry if not mouth-puckeringly so, slightly tannic with a good balancing acidity. There’s also a real “cider ice lolly” flavour that will be familiar to many from childhood days by the sea.
As my pick of the supermarket ciders I’ll gladly pick up a couple of bottles of Tillington Hills whenever I fancy a cider and don’t have anything more unusual to hand. And maybe even if I do. It makes me wonder what it would be like served unfiltered and still but that’s probably asking too much. Regardless, at under £3 for a 75cl bottle, Tillington Hills is still excellent value. Give it a try.