Luxembourg’s Ramborn Cider has been making cider from locally-sourced apples since 2014. Over those years 1 blend has remained the same. This is the story of how the CM blend has changed over the years and became the Ramborn Original Medium Dry Cider. I’m going to look at how 4 areas of the cider have changed over the 6 years: Branding, Colour, Smell, and Taste. So, let’s dive in.
If we look back to the early days of the Ramborn Cider, the bottles of choice were the 500ml bottles but today they have shrunk down to a 330ml. We have seen this a lot across the industry. Cider is still a young product category. The average punter might have tried 1 or 2 quality ciders, it’s really hard to convince some to try something new and 500ml is a big commitment if you don’t like it. Scaling back to 330ml reduces the cost of the serve and lowers the entry bar.
They have also tweaked the branding on the label. 2014 is sporting the wooden barrel evoking notions of a dark shed with cider aging over the winter. I can’t see it standing out in the fridge in the low light of the local bar. One the other hand the 2018 CM Blend has a bright blue background, green leaves and red apples making you think of the lazy late summer days as the apples ripen on the tree. It certainly has more “fridge appeal”. If it’s easy to spot in the fridge is easier to ask the bartender to get it for you.
A while back I wrote about how cider ages over time. One of the things you will notice is the older cider, pictured in the foreground still sporting the dust from Ramborn’s cellar, is much darker than the later vintage. This process is called oxidisation. This occurs when oxygen reacts with enzymes in the juice, you’ll be familiar with the process with a cut piece of apple browning over time. It’s the same process of oxygen reacting with the enzymes and the iron and copper in the fruit, yeah think rust and you’re on the right track. Yes, some pressing styles can cause lots of early oxidization but here the newer cider is a nice golden colour.
the scent of the original generation CM Blend is very intense with a huge caramel and brown sugar hit. It really has a whiff of age about it. It has vibes of a dank cellar and over apples left on the orchard floor.
Swapping back the to the 2018 dry cider now. The time between when the apples were plucked from the meadow orchards and me cracking the crown cap on the bottle is only about 18 months. Not exactly the newest cider on the shelf but certainly not the oldest. The freshness is very evident. It’s all about the green apples more vibrant. The scent leads to the expectation of a much sharper cider. The scent is a lot more alive and there is almost a nutty element to it.
It’s Still plenty of fizz, I thought after all these years, and a flight halfway around the world there would be a loss of pressure through the crown cap but it’s still got them bubbles. The flavour is all-consuming with its thick heavy layers of those sweet dark flavours. There is some acid but it is very mellow. Somehow it is drinking like a dry dessert wine with its thick and rich flavour with super mellow acids.
Switching to the younger sibling, the fizz level is about the same, my assumption was that it could have a little bit more fizz. The second thing I noticed is that it tastes much fresher. The likeness to an apple straight off the tree is much more apparent. This is much easier to drink with fewer complications. More bright acids wake up your senses. I’ve written about this cider in more detail here
I’m extremely lucky to get to try a cider where there are maybe only 2 or 3 other bottles in existence. So a big thank you to Ramborn for the samples.
They say every day is a school day. Ramborn have learnt a thing or two over the years about how to market their ciders, which is clear in the way the modern version is presented. Many of the branding and bottling changes have been seen across the wider market.
As for the way the two drinks have aged. To oversimplify the older cider tastes older and the newer one tastes fresher. I told you I was going to over simplify. If a cider House like Ramborn had space and surplus cider, a cheeky blend of the old and new could be very enticing.