Review of Cider Master Reserve Barrel Select Blend Batch No. 01 from 2 Towns. Special thanks to Dave Takush (head cidermaker & co-owner) and Aaron Sarnoff (co-owner) to answering my e-mail and providing some great additional information about this rare cider!
Cider: Cider Master Reserve Batch No. 01, Barrel Select Blend
Cidery: 2 Towns
Cidery Location: Corvallis OR
How Supplied: 750ml glass bottle
Availability: special release (May 2015), probably only found in WA & OR. However, 2 Towns cider is general is available in OR, WA, CA, AK, HI, NV (limited), ID, IL (Chicago), & MN (Minneapolis).
Cider Master Reserve Description: Inspired by the rich history of cidermaking, our Cider Master Reserve Series holds nothing back. We utilize rare heirloom cider fruit from the Pacific Northwest to create ciders that pioneer beyond the modern palate. You are holding in your hand the ultimate culmination of science, culture, and history,. Enjoy the result.
Barrel Select Blend Description: Batch No. 01 of the Cider Master Reserve series is a traditional English-style cider made from a blend of our finest locally-sourced heirloom cider apples. Aging in a variety of select vintage casks lends a depth of uncommon character to this bold, dry cider.
Locally Sourced Apple Varieties: Ashmead’s Kernal, Bramley’s Seedling, Chisel Jersey, & Newtown Pippen apples
Barrel Blend: rum (35%), bourbon (27%), white bordeaux (20%), & brandy (18%)
Ingredients: Fresh-pressed NW heirloom apples, sulfites
Additional Information from 2 Towns: This is No. 1 in a forthcoming series of Cider Master Reserve batches, focusing on specific ingredients, orchards, and styles that pioneer beyond the modern palate. This barrel blend was meant to be a high-acid, food friendly, dry cider, that has subtle hints of sugar cane, oak, and floral/fruit notes from the rum, white bordeaux (chardonnay), and brandy barrels respectively. The ciders in the series are meant to be elegant, complex and not ‘oak bombs’ or overly sweet modern style ciders. The majority of the acidity comes from Bramley’s Seedling, an old-world English apple used for baking and cider back in the UK. All the apples were sourced locally from small heirloom apple orchards in the Willamette Valley and Hood River.
Cidery Description: 2 Towns was founded in 2010 by partners Lee Larsen and Aaron Sarnoff. Dave Takush joined us shortly thereafter. All three of us grew up together in the Corvallis, OR area. We’ve had explosive growth since our inception at which point we had intended to produce and distribute cider to the Corvallis, OR and Eugene, OR areas only (incidentally, the 2 Towns of our namesake). It became readily apparent that our initial vision needed to grow as we hit our maximum capacity in our first production space (a converted 1,000 sq ft garage) in roughly 2 months. We’ve since built 2 new production facilities with a total of 25,000 sq ft of production space and our team has grown to over 30 people to help us to distribute to 9 states and counting.
Over this time, we’ve kept to our original goal of bringing craft hard cider back to the people. We feel that a craft cider is made with fresh-pressed fruit and contain no artificial flavorings. Our fruit is all sourced in Oregon & Washington and all of our ciders are also free from added sugars other than those present in the juice and in some cases local honey. We feel that cider doesn’t need to be sweet to express the natural flavors of the fruits we ferment.
2 Towns Ciderhouse planted an orchard in 2011 with all traditional cider apple varieties such as Kingston Black, Dabinett, Jersey Brown Snout, and many others. 2 Towns has also contracted with several growers in the Willamette Valley and beyond to grow additional traditional cider fruit.
Where Bought: Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown area of Seattle WA
Where Drank: home
How Found: I believe I saw a press release at NW Cider and a review at Cider Journal. So, I was happy to get a newsletter from Full Throttle Bottles that said they had some in stock! I hurried over to get my hands on it. I am a huge sucker for both barrel aged and special release ciders.
First Impression: Pale yellow, moderate carbonation, dry apple-champagne scent.
Opinion: Dry. This is a very crisp, refreshing, and pleasantly acidic champagne-like cider. Effervescent mouthfeel and light body. No significant bitterness or tartness. I usually avoid dry ciders, but due to the lack of bitterness, this cider was very drinkable for me. I think between the lack of bitterness and the flavor & body, I perceived this cider as slightly sweeter than it is. It was even smoother when it warmed up a bit. So, I would recommend trying this cider somewhere between fridge and room temperature. However, I found there was little discernible barrel influence. I picked up some notes of citrus, pear, and possibly vanilla.
I wouldn’t describe this cider as complex or bold. However, it was very tasty! The bottle was quickly emptied, as I had houseguests to share it with, and it was very well-received. We opened it before dinner and unfortunately there was none left to actually accompany the meal. I look forward to whatever 2 Towns comes up with next! It appears they are tasting Reserve Batch No. 02 at their Harvest Party in October, so it shouldn’t be too long of a wait.
Most Similar to: Ace Blackjack 21, another special release cider. It is a Gravenstein single varietal, Oak Chardonnay barrel aged. I also found it to be very champagne-like. However, I liked the 2 Towns cider much better.
Closing Notes: Try 2 Towns’ Cider Master Reserve Barrel Select Blend if you can find some! This is a very well-composed cider, great for summer, or as a champagne alternative (although not fully sparkling).
Have you tried 2 Towns Cider Master Reserve Batch No. 1 ‘Barrel Select Blend’? What did you think?