Nashi Orchards Black Swan Cider

Review of Nashi Orchards’ Black Swan, a cider from apples foraged from Vashon Island Washington, then bourbon barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this variety, although I have had their Issho Ni ciderChojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry, Barrel Fermented Cider, and Island Harvest Perry.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Nashi Orchards.  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:  Black Swan (2016 vintage)
Cidery:  Nashi Orchards
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  7.3%
How Supplied:  200ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from foraged apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  Vashon Island (including Nashi’s tasting room), Seattle, and Tacoma Washington, per their website

Cider Description:  Island foraged apples (heirloom and bittersweet varieties) make up the base cider, which is then aged in a bourbon barrel (from Seattle Distilling).

Cidery Description:  We strive to make Perry and Cider that expresses the best qualities of the Asian and European pears and heirloom apples that we grow and source.  We carefully control fermentation to preserve some of the natural sweetness, use 100% juice pressed at our winery and do not add sugar or flavorings. Yes, we are purists.

Price:  n/a ($7 retail)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  The cidermaker, Jim Gerlach, dropped off a sample for me.  This year’s vintage was just released.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Smells very mild, of citrus and acidity.  Still (no carbonation).

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Moderate tartness.  Very high acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp crabapples, lemon, grapefruit, peach, mineral, and a hint of honey.  The finish length is moderate and a bit alcohol-forward.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  There is no overt barrel or spirit influence/flavor; in fact, I tasted this cider blind and wouldn’t have guessed it was bourbon barrel aged.

My Opinion:  This is a wine-lover’s subtle food-friendly cider.  Well made, but not my favorite style.  Always nice to try something new though.

Most Similar to:  Other dry high acid subtle ciders made from heirloom apple varieties, such as other ciders from Nashi, Dragon’s Head, and Farnum Hill, and Montana CiderWorks Spartan Dry-Style.

Closing Notes:  I heard that Nashi is going to start kegging their perries and ciders, which is great, as it will increase their product visibility.  I find it interesting they release their products in such a small bottle compared to the ABV, ie. 7 ounces of cider is less than a typical serving size.  It must be a pain to fill all those little bottles without an automated line.  However, it does decrease the price per bottle.

Have you tried cider from Nashi Orchards?  What did you think?

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