Farnum Hill Extra Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, but haven’t done a full review.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  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:  Extra Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, fully dry, lightly carbonated

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Availability:  This is their flagship cider so it is probably the easiest to find, but they appear to primarily be distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Pale gold, bubbly, radically dry. Richly aromatic, suggesting myriad fruits of the earth, and the earth itself, with a complex, palate-cleansing balance of fruit, astringency, and acid. Sugar content zero, fruit notes rampant! Made, like Semi-Dry, from a range of specific apple varieties bred and/or selected for excellent cider.

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $16.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light gold yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Mild scent, clean, with a hint of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Very light bodied.  Creamy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, floral, lemongrass, orange, and green apple.  Moderate length warming finish.  Low flavor intensity and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t dislike it, but this cider was a bit underwhelming for me and the others which tasted it with me.  It gained more flavor intensity and acidity as it warmed up from fridge to room temperature, which was helpful, so I’d recommend drinking it at nearly room temperature (and so does the cidery).  It was also really different from the version of Extra Dry I tried a couple years ago (see here), which my notes say was more acidic, tannic, and carbonated.  Craft ciders can really vary batch to batch.  However, it was very well made and food friendly.  I think it would appeal best to true dry cider lovers.  If you typically drink semi-dry to semi-sweet like I do, the flavor just won’t be there for you, as this is a very nuanced cider.  This is definitely a cider to take some time with to ponder.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank (although that one is a bit more intensely flavored, possible as it is less filtered) and Brooklyn Cider House Still Bone Dry

Closing Notes:  Next up are Farnum Hill’s Kingston Black and Semi Dry.

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

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