The Regulatory Council is the body responsible for guaranteeing the quality of all cider covered under the “Sidra de Asturias” brand. For this purpose, it has established a procedure to verify the suitability of the product by performing physical-chemical and organoleptic analyses. The Regulatory Council commissions the physical-chemical analyses to SERIDA, an Asturian laboratory accredited by ENAC under the UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard. The organoleptic analyses are carried out by the Regulatory Council itself through its Tasting Panel, a body whose rigour and professionalism are key to the system of guarantees that the Sidra de Asturias PDO offers consumers.
The sampling is carried out by auditors from the Certification Department of the Regulatory Council. We use a dual coding system: a code is assigned to each sample when it is taken, which we then change to another code before handing it over to the head of the Tasting Panel. This ensures that the tasters can never know the source of the samples they are evaluating. We also add “false” samples to the tasting sessions, sometimes with specific defects, which help us to continuously monitor the correct work of our tasters.
Our tasting room is, of course, a place with no noise or smells; it provides privacy and a controlled atmosphere, with the appropriate and constant light and temperature for all tasting sessions. Each taster has his or her individual cabin, each identical to the others, separated from each other, with uniform and diffuse light, and with comfortable height-adjustable seats. All these specifications are set out in the UNE-87-004-79 standard and we take them very seriously because a professional tasting room is the only place where a professional Tasting Committee can work if they want to deliver correct and reliable results, which are key to the correct quality control process. In other words: if a tasting session does not take place in a tasting room, then it is no more than an informative or promotional activity, with no value as the guarantee of the quality of a product.
Our Tasting Committee meets twice a month. One of the keys to a proper quality assessment is the anonymity of the tasters, which is the best way to ensure that their work is free from pressure and that it is objective and impartial. The tasters do not know whose samples they are, and the cider presses do not know the composition of the Tasting Panel that evaluates them: that information is only known by the Certification Department of the Regulatory Council.
The members of the Tasting Panel are professionals linked to the world of cider with extensive experience and training in cider tasting, mainly sommeliers, oenologists, hoteliers, and cider mill experts. The members of our Tasting Committee dedicate their time and knowledge anonymously and selflessly to ensure that only the best cider can display the “SIDRA DE ASTURIAS” (“CIDER OF ASTURIAS”) brand.
The quality parameters evaluated by the Regulatory Council are public and are set out in Section B.3 of the Sidra de Asturias PDO specification document. The physical-chemical characteristics are more restrictive than those required of cider that does not come under the designation of origin, and compliance is verified in the SERIDA laboratory, which is accredited by ENAC under the UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The organoleptic characteristics (aroma, flavour, colour, appearance and gas attributes) specified in the specification provide our cider with its typicity and are assessed by our Tasting Committee, with a maximum of 10-12 samples in each session to avoid the sensory fatigue of the tasters.
If a consignment of cider has passed all the controls that guarantee its 100 per cent Asturian origin and its quality, both regarding the physical-chemical analysis in a laboratory accredited by ENAC and its organoleptic analysis by our Tasting Panel, it is granted the right to use the “SIDRA DE ASTURIAS” (“CIDER OF ASTURIAS”) brand, the European logo for differentiated quality products, and the numbered guarantee seal of the Regulatory Council. In other words, if a cider has not passed the Regulatory Council’s checks regarding its origin and quality, it is not “Sidra de Asturias”.