Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider

Review of Eden’s Heirloom Blend Ice Cider.  I tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 and fell in love.  The night before Cider Summit I actually got to meet the cidermaker Eleanor Leger, chat for awhile, and sample a glass of her Sparkling Dry cider, which is also awesome (notes here).  My husband bought me this bottle for our anniversary; its a bit of a splurge and not something I’d normally buy.

From Eden’s website:  Ice cider (also sold as apple ice wine) originated in Southern Quebec, and is a dessert wine made using apples which have been concentrated by natural winter cold.  Eden harvests apples from the trees at peak ripeness, puts them in cold storage until winter, presses them into juice, then sets the juice outdoors to freeze for 6-8 weeks.  The freezing & melting-off process concentrates the flavor and sugar of the apples.  The juice is then fermented over several weeks or months until the cider is cold stabilized, filtered, and bottled.  Ice cider is typically 8-11% ABV and 12-15% residual sugar (in contrast, typical criteria puts dry cider below 0.9%, medium at 0.9-4.0%, and sweet above 4.0% residual sugar).  The final amount of ice cider is typically less than 1/4 of the original amount of pressed juice, and it takes more than 8 pounds of apples to make just one 375ml bottle of ice cider.  All this substantiates the high cost of ice cider.  Here are photos of the process.

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Cider:  Heirloom Blend Ice Cider
Cidery:  Eden
Cidery Location:  West Charleston VT
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  375ml tall clear glass bottle, corked (also available in some areas in 187ml bottles)

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Availability:  Year round in AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, VT, WA, WA D.C., and Canada.  See their list of distributors.

Cider Description:  This is our flagship product, now in its sixth vintage.  We’ve changed the name from ‘Calville’ to Heirloom to reflect more clearly the heritage and complexity of the the blend.  In addition to MacIntosh and Empire, Russets provide full-bodied sweetness, Calville Blanc and Esopus Spitzenburg provide acidity and citrus notes for balance, and Ashmead’s Kernel provides natural tannins for structure. Serve it with artisanal cheeses, game or dessert.

Apple varieties:  Empire, MacIntosh, Roxbury Russett, Calville Blanc, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Hudson’s Gem, Ashmead’s Kernel, Esopus Spitzenberg, Black Oxford, Belle de Boskoop, Reinettes

35 Brix after concentration, 10% ABV, 15% residual sugar, and 1.6% titratable acidity.  No added sugar, coloring or flavoring of any kind.

Cidery Description:  Eden Orchards and Eden Ice Cider began on a trip to Montreal in 2006 when we first tasted ice cider and wondered why nobody was making it on our side of the border.  We had dreamed for years of working together on a farm in the Northeast Kingdom; it was a dream that had vague outlines including an apple orchard, cider, and fermentation of some sort.  That night we looked at each other and knew ice cider was it.  In April 2007, we bought an abandoned dairy farm in West Charleston, Vermont and got to work.  Since then we have planted over 1,000 apple trees, created 5 vintages of Eden Vermont Ice Ciders, and have introduced a new line of Orleans Apertif Ciders.  Out goals are to create healthy soils and trees in our own orchard, to support out Vermont apple orchard partners who do the same, to minimize our carbon footprint, to contribute to the economic and environmental health of our employees and our Northeast Kingdom community, and most of all to make world-class unique ciders that truly reflect our Vermont terroir.

They have a tasting bar on the main floor of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in downtown Newport VT, and can ship ciders to 23 states (see their full page on how to buy).  Their current product line includes at least four ice ciders, two Aperitif ciders, and dry & semi-dry sparkling ciders.

Price:  $30
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Rich deep amber-orange hue.  Completely still (no carbonation).  Smells of rich sweet ripe apples, caramelized sugar, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and honey.

Opinion:  Very sweet, but in a refined and well-crafted way.  Low acidity.  No to low tartness.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Mild tannins.  Very full bodied.  Medium finish length.  The same rich sweet ripe apples, caramelized sugar, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and honey notes continue to the flavor.  It is a tad alcohol-forward, but still tastes less than its 10% ABV.  Rich and full-flavored.  I tried it cold, room temperature, and warm, and enjoyed it best when very cold.  When warmer the flavors were dulled.

Most Similar to:  Other high quality ice ciders.  When buying an ice cider (or actually any cider), I’d recommend researching how the product is made.  For example, I’ve seen an imported product that retails for only $12 (instead of $20-$30 for 375ml) made from apple juice concentrate.  Its at least good to made an educated purchase.  Eden was the first to make ice cider in the U.S., but now other cideries make it, including Tieton (Frost), Eve’s (Essence), Newhall Farm, Slyboro (Ice Harvest), Sheldrake Point (Ice Apple Wine) and Angry Orchard (Iceman).  You can also find imported ice ciders in the U.S., including from Domaine Etienne Dupont (Givre), Domaine Pinnacle, and Neige.

Closing Notes:   Amazing!  I highly recommend Eden ice cider, as long as someone doesn’t mind a sweet beverage.  It isn’t intended to be drunk in large quantities, but instead small sips, such as with dessert.  This ice cider paired especially well with apple pie….mmmm.  This bottle easily lasted me a week, including sharing it with a couple other folks, and apparently can remain open in the fridge for quite awhile (I noticed no change in taste over that week, likely as it is still, high ABV, and high residual sugar).  I really want to try Eden’s barrel aged ice cider, Northern Spy, but it isn’t sold in WA yet.

Have you tried any ice cider?  What did you think?

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