Comparison: Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice

AS proof that I do read your comments, here is a request. The question to answer is simple… Which tastes best? Cider with ice or without?

Now, I have thought about doing comparisons before. For example, comparing domestically churned out lager with the imported version of the same brand. But that would be like comparing council tax with income tax. Whatever the outcome, you’ve lost out. Not having the things to hand has also been a problem.

It is with both the means (the four-pack of Gaymers Original Cider) and the will (Gaymers Original Cider is pretty good), that we get this comparison under way. If you read yesterday’s review, you’ll know that this cider does a reasonable job of representing all the ciders out there where the manufacturers want you to use ice. So this isn’t just comparing Gaymers with and without ice. It’s comparing all ciders with and without ice.


I’ve always had the suspicion that adding ice makes it a little more refreshing, but waters the thing down. Especially by the time the ice has melted. And, if you’re buying your cider, or any other drink from a bar, you get worse value if they add ice because it leaves that much less room in the glass for drink. You can try it the next time you get a cola with your fast-food meal. When your body is cursing you for having a Big Mac with cheese, at least you’ll be smug about getting good value from your soft-drink.

Back to the cider. I started out with two glasses roughly equally filled.

 Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice - No Ice

Next step was to add four ice cubes to one of the glasses. I added them to the glass on the right-hand-side if you couldn’t tell.

 Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice - With Ice

You might have noticed how one of the glasses is now nearly full. The next time you order a drink and it arrives with ice, just imagine a quarter of it being water. In these tough economic times, you may want to pass on the ice.

First Test: Smell

Yes they do smell different. The glass with no ice has a much fuller smell of apples. The glass with ice has a very weak smell of apples. No surprise considering the quarter of a glass of water sitting on top.

Second Test: Taste

Glass without ice tastes of tangy, citrusy and rather dry cider. The glass with ice tastes of… not much. It tastes watery with a hint of apples. The character is completely different. With the ice, it’s no longer as tangy and citrusy. Which is bad. But it’s not longer so dry in character and it’s much more refreshing. Which is good.


The difference is bigger than I expected. It changes the character and nature of the cider in a big way. If it affects the typical example of Gaymers that I used, you can be sure it will affect any other brand in much the same way. And that would go for pear or fruit cider too, I would imagine.

Which is best?

That depends on your taste. And how hot the day is. Hot day, I’d go for the ice option. You probably need the re-hydration anyway. If you’re not sweaty, then enjoy a civilised and flavourful glass of cider without ice.


This shocking result nullifies all my past cider reviews. Some of them were with ice and others weren’t. That immediately makes my comparisons wonky. If you do trawl the archives of this blog, compensate for the cider reviews where I added ice by imagining that I was more complementary about the smell and flavour. I certainly won’t be adding ice for any more reviews.

Where do you stand on the ice vs. no ice debate? Leave your opinion here for the world to see.

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8 Responses to “Comparison: Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice”

  1. Paul Garrard Says:

    Nice one Hywel!

  2. Dave Angel Says:

    The reason most drinks companies prescribe an over ice or super chilled serve is that they use yeasts that give quick fermentations. The side product to this is that they produce ‘off’ notes in the flavour profile. These ‘off’ notes can be remedied or hidden by ensuring the product is served as cold as possible.

    • Leena Says:

      The National Association of Cider Makers in GB considers that Perry and Pear Cider are the same there is no dfrefience. Pear Cider is just another name for Perry and one that consumers recognise. Pear Cider or Perry both must have a minimum of 75% Pear/ 25% Apple to be considered Pear Cider.I say fair play to Magners the other Pear ciders have minimal pear in them and are full of flavourings, not aprticularly natural and explains why Magners Pear tastes the best. Try it versus the others and I bet you will see for yourself

  3. George Says:

    Instead of using ice, I place a 330ml ice chilled bottle of “Original” in a chilled small pewter tankard, and drink directly from the bottle ! This enables drinking chilled to the last drop —— it is MAGNIFICO !!!!!!! especially with a meal !!!

  4. Anonymous Says:

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  5. niftifed Says:

    The reason why I think the cider companies do this is to get you to market the drink for them. Most cider bottles bought in pubs contain a pint, so it would be impossible for you to empty the bottle into the glass if there was ice in it, forcing you to take the bottle, which is now a highly visible advert, to your table.

  6. Andrew Banham Says:

    I like cider chilled on a hot day but would never put ice in it

  7. AJ Says:

    11 years after this blog was posted , I am going to come out and say that it’s better chilled but without ice.

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