Eden Specialty Ciders Cellar Series #2 The Falstaff

Review of Eden Specialty Ciders Cellar Series #2, The Falstaff, a seven-year barrel-aged ice cider!  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve tried Eden’s Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Brandy Barrel Aged Ice CiderGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice Cider, and Two Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Eden.  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:  Cellar Series #2, The Falstaff
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport Vermont
ABV:  10%
Residual Sugar: 15%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American artisan ice cider from Vermont apples, aged for 7 years in a single oak barrel

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Availability:  Now sold out.  This was an early batch of their ice cider, aged in a single oak barrel from 2008-2015, put into 600 bottles, and sold to their cider club members in 2015 & 2016.

However, in general, their ciders are at least sold in AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, VT, WA, and British Columbia.  Eden also offers online sales when allowed by state.

Cider Description:  Rare single-barrel ice cider aged for 7 years in used French oak. It is elegantly oxidized and sweet, like a rich oloroso without fortification. Dark and warm, it still has beautiful acidity, along with notes of golden raisin, caramelized sugar, apricot and fig.

won Chairman’s Award / Best Wood-Aged Cider: Dan Berger Cider Competition 2016

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 Vermont.  Their current product line includes ice ciders, Aperitif ciders, sparkling ciders, and Cellar Series releases.

Price:  n/a (retails for $50)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about this online, but it was cider club only, then sold out.  I got lucky and a rep from Eden saw it on my Wish List and contacted me.

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First Impression:  Deep caramel amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells amazing and enticing – very rich, sweet, and boozy, of concentrated apple juice, molasses, and so much more.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of molasses, caramel, raisin, ripe baked apple, tart raw green apple, lemon, brown sugar, caramelized sugar, pie spices, and even more!  Long finish length.  High apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Very high complexity.  Very low sessionability.  More aged than oaky.

My Opinion:  Amazing!!  Probably tied with Alpenfire Smoke for most complex cider I’ve ever drank.  The tartness and acidity was higher than their other ice ciders, but that helped balance the sweetness, and added to the flavor complexity.  It was a unique mix of rich, sweet, tart, savory, and more.  I recommend serving this an ounce or two at a time, very cold, and to slowly savor in tiny sips.

Most Similar to:  This is a more complex, tart & acidic, and aged version of their other ice ciders, probably closest to Eden’s Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom ice cider (which was my favorite ice cider until I tried this one).

Closing Notes:  I’m so lucky to have been able to try this!  I look forward to enjoying the rest of this bottle over the next couple weeks, including on Thanksgiving.  Hopefully I won’t have to share it with anyone.

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

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Eden Specialty Ciders & Tilted Shed Collaboration, Two Ellies

Review of Two Ellies: An East Meets West American Cider Story, a collaboration between Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders in Vermont and Ellen Cavalli of Tilted Shed Ciderworks in California.  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve tried Tilted Shed’s Lost OrchardBarred Rock, & Smoked, and Eden’s Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Brandy Barrel Aged Ice CiderGuinevere’s Pearls, & Windfall Orchard Ice Cider.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Eden Specialty Ciders (the cidermaker Eleanor brought it to me in her suitcase!).  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:  Two Ellies: An East Meets West American Cider Story
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders & Tilted Shed Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Newport VT & Windsor CA (bottle says made at Eden in Vermont)
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from Gravenstein apples from Tilted Shed in California and Esopus Spitzenburg apples from Eden in Vermont (both heirloom varieties), naturally sparkling, dry

 

Availability:  Very limited (likely only in parts of CA & VT), released September 2017

Cider Description:  This special cider is a cross-country collaboration between the two Ellies of American fine cider – Eleanor Leger of Vermont’s Eden Specialty Ciders and Ellen Cavalli of Sonoma Country’s Tilted Shed Ciderworks – who each contributed an hierloom apple variety particular to their terroir to showcase their mutual passion for traditional cidermaking.

A bit on terroir:  The term is most commonly used in the wine world, and describes the impact of the region (soil, topography, climate, etc) on a product.  Even ciders made from the same type of apples & yeast using the methods can vary widely region-to-region as the apples are different due to the environmental variance.  For example, the same variety of apple from the NE will commonly be significantly higher in acid than those from the NW.

Price:  n/a (and unknown)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  High carbonation (natural, from secondary fermentation in the bottle).  Smells of funk, acidity, must, and citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  Hints of sourness.  Low funk.  Notes of lemon, yeast, funk, wood, honey, and must.  Long acidic fizzy tannic finish.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked but didn’t love this, but that was anticipated, as my personal preference isn’t typically for dry acidic ciders.  However, it was expertly crafted.  I enjoyed this cider more at close to room temperature, as that cut the sharp acidity and let the fizz settle down.  My husband was a huge fan, as expected, as dry sparkling cider is his favorite.  It had a surprising amount of tannins for being made with heirloom (not cider) apple varieties, which I enjoyed.  I’d recommend Two Ellies for lovers of dry, acidic, highly carbonated ciders.

Most Similar to:  This reminded me of Tilted Shed Lost Orchard & Understood in Motion 02 (but both of those were nearly still), and Eve’s Beckhorn Hollow (except that had some different flavor notes).

Closing Notes:  Even though this isn’t a personal favorite, I’m glad I got the opportunity to try it and share about it.

Side Note:  Eden has previously collaborated with Angry Orchard (see my review of Understood in Motion 01), and also recently released a budget-friendly cider made with Québec dessert apple varieties, called Border Buster (see this article).  Tilted Shed has also been staying busy, with multiple new releases, as announced on their Facebook page.

Have you tried any ciders from Eden or Tilted Shed?  What did you think?

Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2017, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event (see here).

The Tasting Notes

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) – Although I had previously tried the three ciders they were pouring (see my previous reviews here), I’m including Alpenfire here as they were debuting their new branding and future new cider releases.  They have a new logo, bottle labels, and website.  The future new cider releases include a rosé Pommeau, “Tempest” New England style, 3 Pommes (apple/pear/quince), a new release of Smoke (my all time favorite cider, which hasn’t been out for a couple years), a Foxwhelp apple single varietal, and even a Pommeau with an apple grown in the bottle (which will only be for the initial members of their new cider club).  Sounds like they have been busy!

Alpenfire did however have a cask-aged version of their Pirate’s Plank which I had a sip of.  It seemed a tad sweeter (dry not bone dry) and a bit more oaky than I remembered previously.

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Alter Ego (Portland OR) The Brute (6.5% ABV) – This was their first time at Cider Summit, although they were founded in 2014.  The Brute is one of their two flagship ciders; the other is The Guardian Angel, a blueberry-pomegranate cider (see my tasting notes here).  Semi-dry, slightly apple-forward, tart, crisp, and easy to drink, but overall a bit boring as the flavor intensity was low, as is common with a drier cider from dessert apple varieties (which is why most ciders from dessert apples are sweeter and/or flavored).

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Anthem (Salem OR) Rye Barrel Aged Cider (8.5% ABV) – Anthem is part of Wandering Aengus.  This is a draft-only release, aged in Rye whiskey barrels.  Semi-dry to dry and sharp, with moderate whiskey flavor and a hint of oak.

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Bad Granny (Chelan WA) Rainier Cherry – They launched a little over a year ago and are new to Cider Summit.  Rainier Cherry is a draft-only release using local Rainier cherries, although they sell their Original green apple cider in cans.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (I was told 9 grams sugar / 12oz), fuller bodied, moderate intensity real cherry flavor.

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Cider Riot (Portland OR) Everyday Semi-Dry (6.0% ABV) – I believe this was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  This cider is also available in cans.  Semi-dry to dry, with a hint of sourness, but very low flavor intensity and fairly blah.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Bare Naked (6.7% ABV) – This is a new release, and currently draft-only.  It is a less sweet and non-spiced version of their flagship Baked Apple cider.  Semi-dry and flavorful, with unfiltered apple juice notes and a hint of honey flavor.

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Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport VT) Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (10.0% ABV) – I have tried this special treat previously, but my husband ended up getting a couple pours, burning the rest of his tickets, as it is amazing and a great value to get pours of at an event.  Ice cider is made using juice which has been frozen, concentrating the natural sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweet full-bodied intensely flavorful dessert cider.  See my previous review here, and my review of the brandy barrel-aged version of this cider here (which is my all time favorite ice cider).

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French Cider Inc. – I tried three French ciders imported by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports Inc.  They are Seattle based and fairly new to the market (I hadn’t even heard of them before I was looking over the Cider Summit list!), and thus this was their first time at Cider Summit.  French Cider’s focus is on importing French cidre (apple cider), poire (French perry, which is made from pears, not apples), and Calvados (French apple brandy).  The owner Joan Harkins (who I chatted with) speaks French and lives French culture.  She has hand-selected each variety in their collection after meeting with the cidermakers.  I hadn’t previously been aware of any of their selection being available in the U.S.  I found all three selections to likely be friendly to an unfamiliar palette, as they were all clean or fairly clean (no to low funk) and no sourness, lining up more with the style of the Brittany France ciders I’ve had more than the Normany France ciders I’ve had (although it appears all three were made in or near Normandy).  French Cider’s primary focus is on supplying shops and restaurants, but they also offer local pickup (appointment only) in Seattle, and soon, will ship.  Their website is amazingly informative, and they had a helpful handout for each of the three ciders (see below).  They are posting a photo blog featuring the French apple harvest season, which is currently underway (see their Facebook page).  Also, here is a recent article on the company from Seattle Dining.

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La Chouette (Mont-Saint-Michel Bay France) Cidre Demi-Sec (4.5% ABV) – This cider was produced in an area in between the Normandy and Brittany regions in France, from cider apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Lower carbonation and tannins than the other two I tried.  Clean (no funk).  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Lefevre (Berville Normandy France) Cidre Brut (5.9% ABV) – This cider was produced just outside of Paris, by a 5th generation cidermaker, with cider apples.  The scent was the most complex of the three I tried.  Semi-dry.  Citrus in addition to apple notes, and more.  A hint of funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  French Cider’s website has an interview with the cidermaker, Eric Lefevre.  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Pierre Huet (Cambremer Normandy France) Cidre Bouche Brut (4.5% ABV) – This cider underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was made with 7 or 8 varieties of cider apples by a 5th generation cidermaker.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Clean (no funk).  Low tannins.  Flavorful, apple forward, and easy to drink.  French Cider’s website has an article on their visit to Pierre Huet as well as an interview with the cidermaker, François-Xavier Huet.  Retails for $13-18 / 750ml bottle.

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Liberty Cider (Spokane WA) Spokane Scrumpy (6.4% ABV) – This cider was released in the Spring, and made with community harvested apples (of mostly unknown types, from dessert apples to crab apples) and wild yeast fermented.  $1 of each bottle sale goes to the Spokane Second Harvest food bank.  See this article.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (probably their sweetest cider), buttery, and complex.  I couldn’t really put my finger on the flavor profile with the sample size and time frame, so I’d be interested in giving a full bottle a try.

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Louis Raison (Le Theil-sur-Huisne France) Organic Dry (4.5% ABV) – This cidery is brand new to the U.S., and first launched here in Seattle.  They will have this cider on draft to start in Washington and Oregon, and eventually increase up to three bottled varieties in 2018 (adding Rouge Delice – made from red fleshed apples, and Original Crisp).  See here for more info on their launch.  Organic Dry is made in France from certified Organic bittersweet cider apples grown on co-op farms.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Apple and yeast forward and easy to drink.  I look forward to this being available in bottles as it sounds like it’ll be fairly affordable to keep around as an everyday cider.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Plum Jerkum (6.5% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but are new to the Seattle market and Cider Summit.  Although Mission Trail makes ciders and perries, they are best known for their other fruit wines, and specifically, jerkum (which is fermented stone fruit juice; the term originated just for plums, but has more recently been used to encompass all stone fruits).  They were actually only pouring jerkums at this cider event.  In this case it was 100% plum juice from 14 red-fleshed varieties.  The Plum Jerkum was semi-sweet to semi-dry, tart, with a moderately intense fruity berry flavor (I didn’t really pick up the prune/plum).

Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Goldmine Nectarine (6.0% ABV) – This is another jerkum, with 100% nectarine juice, barrel aged.  Semi-dry, quite tart, with pure nectarine flavor.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but often it isn’t obvious.  I also recently tried their Peach Coast (see here), a peach wine / jerkum, which was my favorite of the three.

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Montana Ciderworks (Darby MT) Small Batch Dolgo (5.5% ABV) – This is a single varietal from the Dolgo crabapple, oak aged, part of their Small Batch series.  Semi-sweet, tangy, fruity, and apple-forward.

Random note:  I got some insight into labeling special releases.  In this case, “Dolgo” was stamped on, making it look handwritten with less effort.  Very cool.  However, many small batch special releases do have actual handwritten labels, like this one.  Getting a label approved by the TTB is a time consuming process, so often cideries have a general label they use for multiple small batches.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket WA) Mulberry & Friends – It was the cidery’s first time at Cider Summit, and they were founded last year.  This is a new cider release made with eight different types of berries and currants (mulberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, gooseberry, black currant, and golden currant).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, smooth, low tartness & acidity, with a light real berry flavor.

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Pina Colada – This is a new draft-only release, part of the fruit cider challenge (and it turned out to be the winner – 2nd year in a row for One Tree – congrats!).  Sweet, very full flavored, with a bit more coconut than pineapple.  I loved the flavor of this (it reminded me a bit of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada with the coconut, which hasn’t been used much in cider), but it would be a bit sweet to have much of.

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Pear Up (Wenatchee  WA) Pineapple Pear – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a one-off draft only release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, low flavor intensity, with the flavor balanced between pear & pineapple.  They weren’t serving it through the pineapple, but it was a cool photo op nonetheless.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) New England Style (9.5% ABV) – This is a seasonal release which appears to have not been released for a few years, possibly draft-only.  It was made in the New England style, typically characterized as a high ABV cider with brown sugar and raisins added.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, sharp & acidic, with caramel notes and a boozy finish.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) 2015 Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV) – This is part of their Harvest series, made with heirloom apple varieties, and also available in bottles.  Semi-dry, herbal scent, sharp, with citrus, floral, and herbal notes.

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Swift (Portland OR) Pineapple Hop (6.7% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but it was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  Semi-dry, balanced flavor between the pineapple & hops with only hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor intensity was low.

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Washington Gold (Chelan WA) Northwest Raspberry (5.5% ABV) – This is a brand new small batch canned release.  Semi-sweet to sweet, with intense real raspberry flavor.

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews on some of the producers I didn’t get to highlight:  101 Cider House, 2 TownsAspall, Atlas, Bull Run, Chatter Creek, Double Mountain, Dragon’s Head, Dunkertons, Eaglemount, E.Z. Orchards, Finnriver, Greenwood, Hi-Wheel, Incline, Jester & Judge, J. Seeds, Le Brun, Locust, Maeloc, Manoir du Parc, Methow Valley, Moonlight Meadery, New West, North IdahoNumber 6 Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Portland, Rambling Route, Samuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Sonoma, Spire Mountain, Steelhead, Summit, Tieton, Ulee’s, Wandering Aengus, WildCraft, and Worley’s

In Summary

My Favorite Ciders – Of the ones I tasted at the event, my favorites were the 4 French ciders, some of the sweeter ciders that were very flavorful (such as One Tree’s Pina Colada and WA Gold Cider’s Raspberry), Montana Cider’s Dolgo, and Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy.

Other Interesting Selections – There were also some interesting beverages I didn’t try, such as Schilling’s guava barrel-aged sour, a cocktail from Incline with gin and their Compass Rose cider, apple whiskey from J. Seeds, a Cider Summit themed cider from Finnriver which has been available at all four Cider Summit events this year (see here), 101 Ciderhouse’s Black Dog with activated charcoal (see here), and Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry with ghost peppers (see here).

Eden Cellar Series Guinevere’s Pearls

Review of Eden’s Guinevere’s Pearls, part of their Cellar Series (#4), only available to club members.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have previously sampled their Sparkling Dry, Cellar Series Cinderella’s Slipper, Heirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-Dry, Northern Spy (Barrel Aged) Ice Cider, Honeycrisp Ice Cider, Imperial 11 Rosé, and Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Ice Cider.

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Cider:  Guinevere’s Pearls
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  11.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American Artisan Imperial-style semi-sweet Northern Spy apple single varietal

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Availability:  Eden’s online store, for cider club members, 50 cases of 12 bottles.  However, in general, their ciders are available in CA, CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, SC, VT, WA, WA D.C., and Alberta B.C. Canada.

Cider Description:  In deepest winter’s ice and snow, four containers of fresh apple juice began their journey.  We pressed this juice at Eden Orchards from Northern Spy apples conscientiously grown in Vermont by Ezekiel Goodband and Jessika Yates.  As the cold set in, the water in the juice began to freeze, intensifying the sugars and flavors in the remaining unfrozen residual apple sweetness to balance this regal apple’s notable acidity.  Like Guinevere’s pearls, which she gave to King Arthur as a talisman for his knightly pursuits, the precious drops of sweetness in this unique cider may inspire you to accomplish heroic deeds and win your Queen or King…or just encourage you to sip a little slower to enjoy the beauty they add to your drinking experience.

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.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  Eden’s online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light golden amber.  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells of cider apples and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied with a frothy mouthfeel.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  Moderate funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, must, stone fruit, honey, and brown sugar.  Long warming finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I loved the uniqueness, with the combination of high acidity, richness, sweetness, high ABV, and carbonation.  The only thing I would change would be to have less bitterness.

Most Similar to:  I don’t think I’ve had anything similar.  It reminded me a bit of a French cider as it is apple and yeast forward and is fizzy.  However, it is more acidic and fruity and has a higher ABV.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got a chance to try this.  Its an excellent value too.  I also picked up some Sparkling Semi-Dry and Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Ice Cider at the same time which I have to look forward to.

Have you tried Eden Guinevere’s Pearls?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

What an awesome year 2016 was in the cider world!  Cider Says has now been up for a year and a half.  Like other cider bloggers, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite ciders of 2016.  See here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoyed, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2016.

Multi pack:  Reverend Nat’s Revival – This one is complex for being made from dessert apples, with lots of unique flavor just from the yeast varieties used.  Celt – I always keep this easy drinking apple & yeast forward French cider in the house as its convenient & affordable.  Thatchers Green Goblin – For how commercial it is, I ended up really enjoying this sweeter simple English cider.

Canned:  One Tree Crisp Apple – I don’t usually go for plain flagship ciders, but this one had some nice unfiltered apple juice flavor without being over the top sweet.  Cidergeist Semi Dry – This reminded me of French cider; too bad it isn’t available locally.  Long Drop Vanilla Honey – Awesome honeycomb flavor.

French:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut – A $5 selection from Trader Joe’s which doesn’t disappoint and has some great apple forward sparkling goodness.  Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge – I loved the bittersweet apple flavor, and that the funk remained mild.

English:  Aspall Imperial – Rich flavor, high ABV, and a low price tag.  Dunkertons Dry  (awesomely tannic) and Black Fox (nice fruity twist on an English cider), which I hope to find locally now that they are distributed in the U.S.

Italian:  Bertolinos – My first Italian cider, which I found to be simple but tasty, and budget friendly too.

Swiss:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Transparente – My first Swiss cider, which reminded me of French cider, in between the typical Brittany & Normandy styles.

Canadian:  Sea Cider Ruby Rose – This fruity high ABV cider is made with rhubarb and rose hips, making it a unique summer sipper.

Fruity:  Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry – A cherry cider is difficult to pull off without tasting medicinal, but the flavor is spot-on with this one.  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express – Although simple, this cider has some awesome pineapple flavor, a nice frothy texture, and a hint of lime.

Rosé:  Eden Imperial 11 Rosé – This drier cider with red currant is high ABV and amazingly fruity.  Alpenfire Glow – This sweeter cider is made from rare red fleshed apples and also amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.

Limited Release:  Angry Orchard & Eden collaboration, Understood in Motion: 01 – This cider is only available at Angry Orchard’s Walden NY cider house, and was made from Vermont heirloom apples, barrel aged, and mixed with some ice cider; awesome!

Hopped:  2 Towns Hop & Stalk – I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either rhubarb or hops, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this cider; the flavors really complimented each other and created a unique and surprisingly complex cider (I’m also a sucker for Imperial / high ABV ciders).

High ABV:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would probably be it, although its not an everyday sort of cider.  I hope it gets released again soon, as I’m down to only one bottle!

Oaked:  Sheppy’s Oak Matured – I love the strong oak flavor in this cider; as a bonus, it is budget friendly too.

Barrel Aged:  Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant – This was my favorite cider from Cider Summit Seattle 2016, with awesome berry, oak, and whiskey flavor.

Sparkling:  AEppelTreow Appely Doux – This methode champenoise cider has a wonderful texture & flavor, and would be a great champagne alternative.

Perry:  EZ Orchards Poire – I’m not a huge Perry fan, but those I do like tend towards the French Poire style; this one has a creamy texture and complex fruitiness.

Pommeau:  Etienne Dupont Pommeau – This is their Cidre Bouche aged in Calvados barrels with Calvados added, and is flavorful, rich, and complex.  Wandering Aengus Pommeau – Milder in flavor than some other Pommeaus, but still rich and complex.

Ice Cider:  Eden Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged – I’ve enjoyed all of Eden’s ice ciders, but this is my favorite, as it had the added depth from barrel aging in addition to all the rich complexity of their typical ice cider.

Great Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (and as high as $7), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.

Wine-like:  Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider – Quite different than I was expecting, but I liked it; this one reminded me of dessert wine with the white grape notes, higher ABV, and sweetness.

Draft-only:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet – An amazingly rich and tannic cider made from bittersweet apple juice from Poverty Lane Orchards (Farnum Hill); wild fermented but it wasn’t funky.

Unexpected:   Gowans 1876 Heirloom – This cider almost seemed to good to be true, as it was so full flavored and apple forward.

Well, there you have it, a list of 32 of my favorite ciders from 2016.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  Still, it seems like so many great ciders didn’t make the cut, which is unfortunate.

What are your favorite ciders?

Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders Collaboration – Understood in Motion: 01

Review of the first collaboration between Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders, Understood in Motion: 01.  It is the first in a series of planned releases, made by head cidermaker Ryan Burk of Angry Orchard and co-owner & cidermaker Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders.  It is named for the motion of apple harvest and the cider making process.

The apples were grown and pressed in Vermont at Eden’s cidery, then the juice was shipped to Angry Orchard’s Innovation cidery in New York for fermentation and six months of aging (some in tanks and some in Calvados barrels).  After that, Ryan and Eleanor met to blend the cider with some three year old Eden ice cider.

Here is an article with more information on the cider, and here is an article about Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House releases in 2016.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  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.<<

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Cider:  Understood in Motion: 01
Cidery:  Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Walden NY & Newport VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Vermont heirloom apple varieties, a mix of tank & Calvados barrel aging, and mixed with ice cider

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Availability:  Limited release, only at Angry Orchard’s Walden New York Innovation Cider House, since November 18

Cider Description:  This cider was born of friendship among two Northeast cider makers, as well as a shared commitment to raising awareness of the American cider industry. With Understood in Motion 01, we worked with our friends at Eden Specialty Ciders (VT) to combine techniques and favorite ingredients to develop something completely new, while paying homage to the American cider making tradition.

This cider is made from a carefully selected blend of heirloom apples from Vermont, including Ananas Reinette and D’Arcy, resulting in a still, semi-dry cider with balanced acidity and low tannin, aged in Calvados barrels for 6 months.

It recently won Gold in the Cider/Mead/ Perry at the FoBAB Competition.

Price:  n/a (retails for $25)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about it online.

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, of brown sugar, honey, and baked apples.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of baked apple, brown sugar, honey, lemon, and grapefruit.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  I was expecting more tannins and less citrus, but it worked.  It tasted like a high acidity citrusy cider mixed with some rich ice cider.  I actually enjoyed it even more the second day.  Because it is still, it didn’t have carbonation to go flat.  The acidity also seemed to calm down a bit, bringing out more richness.

Most Similar to:  This reminded me of Eden’s Semi-Dry cider (which also mixes ice cider into dry cider), as well as Slyboro Old Sin.

Closing Notes:  I feel privileged to have got a bottle of this limited release cider!  Special thanks to Diana Mask at Angry Orchard for hooking me up.  These two cideries would have been my last guess for a collaboration match up, but I can see how it benefits them both.  Angry Orchard is trying to improve their image from just a mass market sweet simple cider maker.  Eden is a small artisan cidery startup without the budget for marketing campaigns or nationwide cider releases.  I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Have you tried Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders Collaboration – Understood in Motion: 01?  What did you think?

Eden Heirloom Blend 2013 Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Ice Cider

Review of Eden Ice Cider’s Heirloom Blend, aged in apple brandy barrels, made in 2013 in Newport VT.  I’ve tried a number of their ice ciders and sparkling ciders; see here.

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Cider:  Heirloom Blend, limited release, 2013, aged in Apple Brandy Barrels
Cidery:  Eden Ice Cider
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  10%
Residual Sugar:  15%
How Supplied:  187ml & 375ml tall skinny glass bottles
Style:  American craft ice cider, aged in apple brandy barrels

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Availability:  Their ciders are at least sold in AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, VT, WA, and British Columbia, although this one has less distribution than their non barrel aged Heirloom Blend, which is most commonly found.  Eden also offers online sales when allowed by state.

Cider Description:  This limited release of our flagship Heirloom Blend Ice Cider has been aged in 10-year old barrels previously used for apple brandy. It has notes of caramel, apple sauce, and vanilla, a round, full mouthfeel, and plenty of acidity to create a lasting, refreshing finish.

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.  Their current product line includes at least eight ice ciders, two Aperitif ciders, and dry & semi-dry sparkling ciders.  They also have a cider club where members get access to special release ciders not available to the public.

Price:  $17 / 187ml
Where Bought:  through their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing their online store.  I enjoyed their Heirloom Blend, and loved their Northern Spy barrel aged cider, so it wasn’t a hard sell.

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First Impression:  Still.  Deep caramel amber hue.  Smells of rich ripe baked apples, residual sugar, higher ABV, brown sugar, burnt caramel, honey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet to very sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Concentrated notes of baked apples, brown sugar, burnt caramel, vanilla, honey, brandy, oak, orange, and a hint of spice.  Long warming finish.  Low sessionability.  High apple flavor.  High flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.  Moderate to high brandy influence.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  Amazing!  I enjoyed the barrel aged and brandy qualiies of this ice cider.  Due to the sweetness this is definitely a beverage to sip only a small quantity after dinner, but that means even a small bottle lasts awhile.  It also kept very well in the fridge, without any noticeable flavor change during the week I had it open.  I think this is my favorite of their ice ciders so far, just slightly above Northern Spy (see here), as it had the added apple brandy flavor in addition to just the oak aging.

Most Similar to:  High quality ice ciders.  Compared to Eden’s Heirloom Blend, it had added oak and apple brandy notes.  Compared to Eden’s Northern Spy, it had added apple brandy notes.  Their different ice ciders have a lot of similarities but also differences.

Closing Notes:   This was another impressive cider from Eden Ice Cider.  I still have their Windfall Orchard ice cider left to try, which I ordered at the same time.

Have you tried Eden Ice Ciders?  What did you think?