Woodchuck Private Reserve Barrel Select

Review of Woodchuck Barrel Select, one of their three current Private Reserve ciders (along with Pink and Pumpkin).

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Cider:  Private Reserve Barrel Select
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial bourbon barrel aged cider

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Availability:  Wide release, Nov-Feb.  Winter Chill, one of their three current seasonal ciders, is also sold during that same time of year.

Cider Description:  Private Reserve Barrel Select is aged in small batches to bring out balanced hints of bourbon over a crisp apple backdrop. The cider is aged for six months in genuine white oak Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The barrels impart a copper hue on the cider as well as gentle notes of oak, vanilla, and whiskey. A truly rare cider which proves that patience is indeed a virtue.

Cidery Description:  Here at the Woodchuck Cidery in Vermont, we handcraft every batch of Woodchuck Hard Cider. Our Cider Makers utilize the highest quality ingredients and meticulously oversee each small batch from start to finish. We reinvigorated American cider in 1991 and continue to lead the category through our commitment to craft innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  ~$2 for a single bottle (runs $9-$11 a six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve bought this cider the last couple years when it came out, along with Winter Chill, as I love barrel aged cider.

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First Impression:  Deep copper caramel amber (note that although barrel aging imparts color, they also list “caramel color” on the ingredient list).  A few medium sized bubbles and some foam upon pouring.  Smells of caramel, molasses, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, oak, and toffee.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Low acidity and tartness.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  The scent notes continued into the flavor.  Medium to strong apple flavor.  Mild barrel influence.  Moderate bourbon influence.  Rich, bold, and full flavored.  Medium bodied.  Medium length warming finish.

My Opinion:  Yum!  However, its quite rich and caloric, so its something I’ll only drink one of.  However, that is perfect for a middle of the week treat.  It was especially tasty in a float with ice cream.  I really wish they wouldn’t add caramel color and flavoring though.

Most Similar to:  Not much…barrel aging programs at commercial cideries are pretty rare.  However, this reminds me somewhat of Woodchuck Winter Chill (oak & vanilla but not spirit flavor), Woodchuck 802 (rich caramelized sugar notes but its not barrel aged), Crispin 15 Men (rum barrel aged with honey notes), and Spire Mountain Dark & Dry (rich molasses & brown sugar notes but its not barrel aged).

Closing Notes:   Enjoying some Woodchuck Barrel Select is becoming an annual tradition for me.  I prefer Winter Chill though, and plan to stock up on that one (although probably not as much as last year, when I got a full case of four 6 packs).

Have you tried Woodchuck Barrel Select?  What did you think?

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