Woodchuck Private Reserve Barrel Aged Cherry

Review of Woodchuck’s newest Private Reserve cider, Barrel Aged Cherry, from Middlebury Vermont.  It will launch to the public in March, but I got a sneak preview.  This cider is infused with Michigan cherry juice and aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.  It was created after a positive response to their Sour Cherry (Cellar series) and Cheeky Cherry (Out on a Limb series) cherry ciders, with a barrel aged twist.  I’ve tried a number of their other ciders (see past reviews here).

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(the bottle almost looks red in this photo, but its the normal brown)

>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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

2016-02-19 18.43.08 2016-02-19 18.43.18 2016-02-19 18.43.25

Availability:  Seasonably, March-August (with this being the first year), nationwide.  It is the first of a series of three barrel aged ciders in the Private Reserve line (which currently contains Pink, Pumpkin, and Barrel Select).

Cider Description:  A touch of Michigan cherries with a hint of Napa all in one satisfying sip. Private Reserve Cherry infuses our small batch hard cider with the juice of Michigan cherries, then aged in the finest Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. This premium craft cider delivers a sweet and tart taste that finishes with notes of smooth oak from the Napa Valley barrels. Exhilarate your senses with this truly unique and rare cider.

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:  n/a (suggested retail price of $10.99-$11.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I saw some other bloggers online post about it, then my sample bottle showed up in the mail.

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First Impression:  Cherry hue.  Light foam but almost no carbonation.  Light cherry scent with a hint of complex oak.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Low acidity.  Low to moderate tartness.  A hint of tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Medium bodied.  The flavor is definitely cherry, although tending more towards cherry skin than cherry juice, with hints of oak.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Low barrel influence.  Low apple influence.

My Opinion:  Yummy!  This is one of the better ciders from Woodchuck…I may even like it better than Gumption and Winter Chill.  It is less sweet, more “real” tasting, and more complex.  It is also the first I can remember from them that doesn’t list color or flavor in the ingredient list.

Most Similar to:  Woodchuck’s other cherry ciders (Sour Cherry and Cheeky Cherry), although slightly less sweet and more complex.  I liked this cider better than the Apple Outlaw Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry cider I tried at Cider Summit Seattle.  I’ve also heard that Virtue is making a twist on their “Mitten” cider which is barrel aged cherry, and Cider Creek makes a Fall-n-Cherry Bourbon Barrel Aged cider.

Closing Notes:   I’m impressed!  I think this is now tied with Washington Gold Cherry as my favorite cherry cider.  Woodchuck’s version is actually perceived as less sweet, despite it being commercial and the other being craft.  I hadn’t liked the direction Woodchuck was going with their recent new Out on a Limb cider releases, but this may change my mind.  I look forward to trying the second sample they send, Day Chaser.

Update:  Not long after this review, I picked up a six pack of this cider, as I enjoyed it so much.  It must have been from a different batch…not nearly as much oak and complexity, more straight cherry.  Too bad.

Have you tried Woodchuck Private Reserve Barrel Aged Cherry?  What did you think?

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