Eden Benjamin

Review of Eden Cellar Series #16, Benjamin, a Petillant Naturel cider made from 2019 harvest apples from Eden’s own biodynamic orchard, and named after their orchardist Benjamin Applegate.  ‘Pet Nat’ is also known as Méthode Ancestrale, and is a way to make naturally sparkling cider (see here for more info on this style).  It is my first time trying this cider, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Photo Sep 07, 5 19 34 PM

Cider:  Benjamin
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage Petillant Naturel cider from heirloom & cider apples, zero residual sugar

Photo Sep 07, 5 20 10 PM Photo Sep 07, 5 20 19 PM

Availability:  in limited markets and through their website

Cider Description:  PROFILE: Bubbly, tart, juicy
APPLE VARIETIES: Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Grimes Golden, Esopus Spitzenberg, Michelin, Ashmead’s Kernel, Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, Egremont Russet, Stembridge Cluster, Blue Pearmain, Binet Rouge, Orleans Reinette, Calville Blanc, Rubinette
METHOD: Spontaneous fermentation, bottled in process before finishing. Not disgorged, contains residual lees
TASTING NOTES: tangerine, white roses and granite
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: oysters, charcuterie, farro bowl

For more info, see here and here.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  $28
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Sep 07, 5 21 57 PM

First Impression:  Hazy light pumpkin hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of mild apple with hints of must and funk.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of sharp but juicy heirloom apple and lemon with hints of floral and earth/straw.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  High complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, once I got past the first mouth-puckering tart sip.  Super apple forward and juicy although without any sweetness.

Most Similar to:  Eden Deep Cut, except with more complexity, more tartness, and a hint of funk

Closing Notes:  Although this was nice to try, both my husband and I preferred Eden Deep Cut due to the lower tartness.

Have you tried Eden Benjamin?  What did you think?

Eden Siren Song

Review of Eden Cellar Series #9 Siren Song, 2019 harvest.  I’ve tried a previous version of this 2 years ago (see here), and have also had most of their line-up (see here).

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Siren Song
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage cider from heirloom sharp & sweet and bittersweet cider apple varieties

 

Availability:  in limited markets and through their website

Cider Description:  A blend of heirloom sharps and sweets, and bittersweet cider apples, including Belle de Boskoop, Golden Russet, Ashton Bitter, Tremlett’s Bitter, Dabinett, Orleans Reinette, and Franklin grown at our friends at Poverty Lane Orchards, Scott Farms and Windfall Orchard. The best fruit of the season, balanced and blended to perfection….Clean, off-dry, medium carbonation…Slow cold fermentation, blended, dosed very lightly with ice cider, filtered and carbonated…Extremely versatile dinner cider, try it with sushi, pad thai, or whole roasted snapper…7g residual sugar.

For more info, see here.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, with a hint of sweet honey.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of tannins & bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp heirloom apple with hints of honey, orange, and floral.  Long tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Nice flavor, although a bit tart & acidic for me.  Due to that I preferred the previous release, which I found slightly sweeter, richer, and more tannic.  However, this is indicative of heritage ciders, which even if made from the same blend of apple varieties using the same methods, will vary from year-to-year, due to the harvest being influenced by nature.

Most Similar to:  Eden Extra Sec and Kingston Black

Closing Notes:  I usually taste ciders before reading any accompanying description, so as to not have any pre-conceived expectation.  While my tasting notes are typically in the same realm as the cidery’s, this time they were completely spot-on (acidic, orange, and wildflower honey).

Have you tried Eden Siren Song?  What did you think?

Eden Deep Cut

Review of Eden’s Deep Cut, a new dry canned harvest cider offering, co-released with Peak Bloom which I reviewed here.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

<This is a review of a sample can 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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Deep Cut
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage cider from heirloom & cider apples, dry

Photo Sep 04, 7 38 59 PM Photo Sep 04, 7 39 14 PM Photo Sep 04, 7 39 26 PM

Availability:  soon, in limited markets and through their website

Cider Description:  This is a dry, hazy, full-bodied 6.2% ABV cider made from Golden Russet, Somerset Redstreak, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, McIntosh and Empire apples that were harvested in 2019.  Slow cold fermentation and no filtering means lots of layered, rich flavor, with tasting notes of peach, black tea and citrus. Eden suggests pairing Deep Cut with fried chicken, tacos and grilled anything!

For more info, see here.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  ~ $3-4 / can
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Sep 04, 7 38 41 PM

First Impression:  Hazy light yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells mild, of apple and must.

Tasting Notes:  Fully dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of juicy heirloom apple and lemon with hints of earth and herbs.  Moderate tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  Ciders like this could turn a sweeter cider lover like me onto dry ciders.  I think it was because of the lower tartness, which seemed to make it easier to drink, as it was less sharp.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had.  The less filtered style was reminiscent of ciders from Downeast, but that is not at all dry, and a completely opposite style (modern not heritage).

Closing Notes:  Usually when I drink a dry cider like this I’ll think about how just a touch of sweetness would have made it better, and more flavorful, but I truly don’t think it would have worked for this cider.

Have you tried Eden Deep Cut?  What did you think?

Eden Peak Bloom

Review of Eden’s Peak Bloom, a new semi-dry canned harvest cider offering, co-released with Deep Cut (dry), which I’ll review soon.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

<This is a review of a sample can 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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Peak Bloom
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage cider from heirloom & cider apples, semi-dry

Photo Aug 29, 5 52 05 PM Photo Aug 29, 5 52 13 PM Photo Aug 29, 5 52 21 PM

Availability:  soon, in limited markets and through their website

Cider Description:  This is an off-dry, clean and refreshing cider made from a blend of Dabinett, McIntosh, Empire, Spartan and Esopus Spitzenburg apples harvested in 2018. Like Deep Cut, Peak Bloom was also fermented slow and cold, blended with a few drops of ice cider, and then filtered, before being carbonated and pasteurized. Tasting notes include applesauce, honey, white grape and slate. Pairing suggestions include curries, barbecue and outdoor fun!

For more info, see here and here.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  ~ $3-4 / can
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Aug 29, 5 51 43 PM

First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, clean, of acidic citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of complex heirloom apple, citrus, honey, and floral.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor and overall flavor intensity.  High sessionability and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I enjoyed the flavor profile, and found it super sessionable, but with plenty of complexity to keep my interest.  I’d personally prefer a bit more sweetness, although I say that about most heritage ciders.

Most Similar to:  Eden’s 2019 Harvest Cider

Closing Notes:  This is yet another excellent cider option from Eden.

Have you tried Eden Peak Bloom?  What did you think?

Eden Claudine Keeved Cider

Review of Eden’s Claudine, a French-style keeved cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies, The FalstaffHeritageSiren SongEzekiel Kingston BlackHarvest, and Extra Sec.

Photo Feb 15, 6 45 53 PM (1)

Cider:  Claudine (Cellar Series)
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft French-style keeved cicder

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Availability:  online only, limited release

Cider Description:  Normandy-style keeved cider, made from 3 bittersweet apple varieties. This is a special version of a petillant naturel that retains residual sweetness, balanced by tannin rather than acidity. Its delicious, rich flavor is a fantastic accompaniment to traditional Normandy foods. Enjoy with a plate of cider-braised mussels, a bowl of pork stew, or a slather of Camembert cheese.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  $36 / 3 bottles (currently no single bottle option) + shipping
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  e-mail from the cidery

Photo Feb 15, 6 49 03 PM

First Impression:  Medium orange amber hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells sweet, of rich apple and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No funk or sourness.  Notes of rich complex apple pomace & juice and orange.  Quick finish with a hint of bitterness and tannins.  High apple flavor, sessionability, and overall flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I really liked it.  On the simpler side, but most French and French-style ciders are, and its far from boring.  Sweeter than most other offerings from Eden, which I like, as my favorite non-ice cider from them is probably their semi-sweet Guinevere’s Pearls.  I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a French cider.  I think it would be perfect for a weekend brunch.

Most Similar to:  a number of cleaner French ciders (no funk or sourness); see here for some of my past French cider reviews

Closing Notes:  Interesting they are only selling this in half-size 375ml bottles, especially with the low ABV.  From the price and style I’m guessing this cider cost them a lot to make, and the smaller bottle size kept the price much lower (vs. $24 / 750ml bottle assuming double the price of one 375ml bottle).

Have you tried Eden Claudine?  What did you think?

Eden Extra Sec

Review of Eden’s Extra Sec, their dry sparkling methode champenoise cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and New Hampshire.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies, FalstaffHeritage 2018Siren SongEzekiel Kingston Black, and Harvest 2019.

Photo Dec 31, 5 13 12 PM.jpg

Cider:  Extra Sec
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  375ml & 750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom & cider apples, methode champenoise, dry

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Availability:  limited, although they have online sales

Cider Description:  Champagne-method cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and at Poverty Lane Orchards in New Hampshire. It is naturally sparkling and clean – we hand-disgorge the yeast from every bottle! Beautifully balanced between fruit, acid, and tannin. The barely perceptible dosage serves to bring forth the fruit character of the cider. Perfect with roast pork, turkey and vegetable gratin dishes.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  ~ $15
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

Photo Dec 31, 5 27 28 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of dry acidic heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of complex tart heirloom apples, lemon, wood/earth, and pineapple.  Long tart finish.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, especially as it isn’t fully dry, and has some complexity, but this isn’t my favorite style of cider.  My husband was predictably even a big fan, as its a favorite style of his.  I recommend this to fans of complex dry tart sparkling ciders; its very well made and an excellent value.

Most Similar to:  Eden Harvest cider, but sparkling, a touch drier, and more complex

Closing Notes:  Awhile back Eden replaced their flagship ‘Dry’ and ‘Semi-Dry’ ciders with ‘Brut Nature’ and ‘Extra Sec’, all of which are sparkling, with the former at 0% residual sugar and the later (reviewed here) at 0.9% residual sugar.  I think I preferred the ‘Semi-Dry’ a bit over Extra Sec, as it was a touch sweeter and richer, but anything from Eden is a good choice.

Have you tried Eden Extra Sec?  What did you think?

Eden Harvest Cider

Review of Eden Harvest Cider, their second canned cider release (see here for my review of the first).  I’ve also 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 CiderTwo Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed), The Falstaff, Siren Song, and Ezekiel Kingston Black.

<This is a review of a sample can 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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Photo Aug 17, 4 45 30 PM (1) Photo Aug 17, 4 45 46 PM (1) Photo Aug 17, 4 46 10 PM (1)

Cider:  Harvest Cider
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  6.4%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft canned heritage cider from Vermong grown heirloom & cider apple varieties

Availability:  limited, to parts of CO, MA, NC, NJ, NY, SC, and VT

Cider Description:  Aromatic. Generously sparkling. Off-dry. Our new, canned Eden Harvest Cider reflects everything we care about:  High flavor, heirloom and tannic apples grown in small, regional orchards.  Fresh pressed at harvest to capture the full flavor of the fruit just as it ripens.  Fermented dry and blended with just a drop of our award-winning Eden Ice Cider to create an everyday cider with extraordinary complexity.  Contains heirloom and tannic apples varieties from local small family orchards, including: Dabinett, McIntosh, Empire, Spartan, and Esopus Spitzenburg.

See more on their website, here and here.  They amazingly only make this once a year.

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.

Price:  n/a (runs ~ $16 / four pack, which sounds like a lot, but is an awesome deal at just over $8 / 750ml, instead of $15-20)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a cidery rep contacted me

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of citrus and heirloom apples.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of super juicy apple and lemon with hints of floral and tropical fruit.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This went over really well with my husband and non-cider drinking house guests too.  Lots of complex flavor without being sweet.  Super refreshing and easy to drink.

Most Similar to:  A sessionable version of a drier heritage cider.

Closing Notes:  This is definitely the highest quality cider currently available in a can.  I liked it even better than last year’s version.  I’m impressed!  Too bad it doesn’t sound like it’ll be available locally, as I’d love to stock some in my cider fridge.

Have you tried any canned heritage cider?  What did you think?

Eden Ezekiel Kingston Black

Review of Eden’s Cellar Series #8 ‘Ezekiel’ Kingston Black.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had many varieties from Eden – Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy (Barrel Aged) Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed), The FalstaffHeritage (canned), and Siren Song.

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Cider:  Cellar Series #9, Ezekiel
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport, VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American heritage cider, Kingston Black single varietal

Photo Dec 14, 6 25 31 PM Photo Dec 14, 6 25 51 PM

Availability:  probably just online, although their regular ciders are sold in stores

Cider Description:  This cellar series cider is named after Ezekiel Goodband, the orchardist at Scott Farm who grew the apples from which it is made. 100% Kingston Black apples – a classic British cider variety that is known as one of the few apples that has sufficient sugar, acid and tannin to make a balanced single variety cider. Rare apples, pressed at harvest, carefully fermented and bottle-conditioned with our ice cider produce a cider that is exquisitely delicious and unique.

Winner: 2017 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, Silver Medal.  2016 Harvest.  100% Kingston Black, grown at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont.  Bottle-conditioned, naturally sparkling, residual lees…Limited run: Only 100 cases produced

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 in Newport VT, and a Boutique Taproom & Cheese Bar in Winooski VT.  Their current product line includes ice ciders, Aperitif ciders, sparkling ciders, and Cellar Series releases.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  their online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, as I wanted to check if they had any new varieties since I last looked, and they did, so I ordered some, then they e-mailed to say they were offering free shipping! (through Dec 20 2018, on 3 or more bottles)

Photo Dec 14, 6 27 27 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of sharp tart apple.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness and acidity.  Low tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp apple and pomace, lemon, mineral, and honey.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was a bit too tart and sharp for my liking.  Also, less rich than all the other five Kingston Black SVs I’ve tried, but the KB is a bittersharp not a bittersweet cider apple variety, so rich flavor notes shouldn’t be a given.  My husband was a big fan though, and happy to finish the bottle.

Most Similar to:  many of the drier tart heritage ciders from heirloom cider apples available in the NE

Closing Notes:  My favorite Kingston Black SV so far is from Liberty, although I’ve also tried ones from Farnum Hill, Eve’s, Dragon’s Head, and Whitewood.

Have you tried a Kingston Black single varietal?  What did you think?

Eden Cellar Series #9 Siren Song

Review of Eden Cellar Series #9, Siren Song.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had many varieties from Eden – Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy (Barrel Aged) Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed), The Falstaff, and Heritage (canned).

Photo Dec 07, 7 01 44 PM.jpg

Cider:  Cellar Series #9, Siren Song
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport, VT
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage cider

Photo Dec 07, 7 01 44 PM - Copy Photo Dec 07, 7 02 24 PM

Availability:  probably just online, although their regular ciders are sold in stores

Cider Description:  In Greek mythology the songs of the Sirens were enough to entice a Mariner to jump off his trireme, only to meet his end in the depths of the Adriatic Sea. This cider will beguile you with fruit, spice and smoke, cradled in an illusion of residual sweetness. As you follow it down to the depths of your glass, the tannins reveal themselves in astringency rather than bitterness. The complexity derives from a mix of over 20 apple varieties, harvest-pressed and fermented slow and cold as are all our heritage ciders. The curvaceous balance derives from skillful blending by our enraptured Cider team. Another glassful calls.

Limited run: Only 80 cases produced.  Winner 2018 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) Gold: Heritage Dry Cider.  2017 Harvest.  20 variety blend of tannic cider apples, including Kerr and Dolgo crabs, Russets and high acid heirlooms.  Filtered and carbonated.  7.5% ABV, 1.2% residual sweetness.

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 in Newport VT, and a Boutique Taproom & Cheese Bar in Winooski VT.  Their current product line includes ice ciders, Aperitif ciders, sparkling ciders, and Cellar Series releases.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  their online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, as I wanted to check if they had any new varieties since I last looked, and they did, so I ordered some, then they e-mailed to say they were offering free shipping! (through Dec 20 2018, on 3 or more bottles)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of tart tannic rich apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp apple, caramel, lemon, mineral, earth, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate flavor intensity, sessionability, and apple flavor.  High complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Nice complexity with a unique flavor profile, a little of everything.  I definitely picked up more influence from crab and heirloom apples than bittersweet apples though.  I had this after dinner, but I think it would be even better suited to pair with a meal, nearly anything.

Most Similar to:  Liberty Ciderworks Hewe’s Crab SV

Closing Notes:  I also purchased Eden’s newish Extra Sec and Cellar Series Ezekiel (Kingston Black SV), both of which I’ll review soon, and another bottle of Guinevere’s Pearls, which I have to say I prefer over Siren Song.

Have you tried Eden Siren Song?  What did you think?

Pick Cider Ideas for Thanksgiving 2018

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I actually remembered to do a Thanksgiving cider article this year, so here it goes!  A list of some suggestions (at least for folks who can get these in their area) for Thanksgiving-dinner friendly ciders.  Besides pairing with a variety of foods, I think the ideal holiday cider will appeal to a wide audience (presuming you will share it with the table).  However, these selections will of course sway towards my personal tastes.

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French ciders – French ciders are inherently food-friendly, and have a wide appeal, typically being mid-level sweetness and apple-forward, but often having surprising complexity.  Its fun to share something unique (imported) with guests too.  Plus, they have a lower ABV, which can be ideal for meals earlier in the day.  Some of my favorites are from Domaine de la MinotiereEric BordeletKystinLa ChouetteL’HermitiéreManoir de Grandouet, and Pierre Huet.  I recently picked up a 5L mini keg of Bordelet, but I’m saving that for Christmas.  The easiest French cider to find for some may be Dan Armor, sold at Trader Joe’s, and at only $5 / 750ml, its an excellent value, and something I wouldn’t hesitate to serve at my house.  My top American-made French-style cider pick is 2 Towns Cidre Bouche.

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AeppelTreow Appely Doux – This Wisconsin methode champenoise (naturally sparkling) selection is mid-level sweetness with a flavor profile of citrus, green apple, honey, and floral.  It would make a nice champagne alternative anytime.

Alpenfire Spark! – This Washington cider is a great introduction to heritage ciders, with some rich notes of apple pomace, honey, orange, and leather, but remaining mid-level sweetness and clean.

Bertolinos Hard Cider – This Italian cider is mid-level sweetness, has some good fizz, and notes of honey, pineapple, and grapefruit.  Especially wide crowd appeal from my experience.

Eden Specialty Ciders – This Vermont cidery may have started with ice ciders (which I cover later), but they make some amazing regular ciders with wide appeal, such as their super complex Sparkling Semi-Dry, rich Guinevere’s Pearls, or new canned Heritage cider, which has to be the highest quality cider I’ve ever seen in a can.

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Eve’s Rustica This New York mid-sweetness cider has some unique notes of honey, cream/vanilla, and fruit, all expertly crafted just from the apples and yeast.

Liberty Kingston Black This Washington single varietal is made only from the iconic Kingston Black apples, yet I think it would have a wide appeal, as it retains some sweetness (semi-dry), is flavorful, and doesn’t cross over into funky/sour/bitter territory.

Slyboro Old Sin This New York semi-dry cider has some rich tannic flavor reminiscent of English cider, with notes of butterscotch, caramel, and tropical fruit, and is another selection which would make a great introductory heritage cider.  Lovely color to it too!

Snowdrift – This Washington cidery has several Thanksgiving-worthy crowd-pleasing cider selections, such as their Cidermaker’s Reserve (semi-dry, sparkling, fruity, and complex), Seckel Perry (mid-level sweetness, made only from Seckel pears), and Cliffbreaks Blend (semi-sweet, tart, and fruity).

Tilted Shed Smoked This dry cider hails from California, and is unique, nuanced, oaky, and slightly smokey.  Probably a bit less likely to be widely appealing, but I think it would be appreciated by certain audiences, and to me seems uniquely suited to Thanksgiving dinner.

Wandering Aengus Bloom – This Washington cider is mid-level sweetness and made from heirloom apples, but has widely appealing familiar notes of honey, green apple, and tropical fruit.

Whitewood Jonathan – This Washington cider is a single-varietal of Jonathan apples, and dry to semi-dry, but super approachable, being apple-forward with notes of citrus and honey.

ice cider – For a special treat with dessert, try ice cider.  It is made from naturally concentrating apple juice using cold to increase the sugar content before fermenting, resulting in a higher ABV sweet dessert cider bursting with flavor.  One of my favorites is Eden Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom.

Pommeau – Also, Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) is another great dessert cider option.  It is made by fortifying cider (either fermented or unfermented juice) with distilled apple juice (brandy).  Like ice cider, it is a nice sipping option, although it is available in a wide range of sweetness.  Some of my favorites are from 2 Towns, Etienne DupontEZ OrchardsHerout, and Wandering Aengus.

Visit the Pick Cider campaign website for lots more great info, and try your local fine bottle shop or online, such as through Cider in Love or VinoShipper.  No matter which cider/s you choose, I’d encourage you to pick up some extra bottles, as a good cider can easily turn even those who have sworn off cider into cider lovers, holidays are holidays, and plus with the lower ABV, a bottle doesn’t go as far as wine.

Eden Heritage Cider

Review of Eden Heritage Cider, their first canned product.  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, Two Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed), and The Falstaff.

<This is a review of a sample can 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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

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Cider:  Heritage Cider
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft canned heritage cider

Availability:  VT, MA, ME, NJ, NY, CO, NC, SC, and soon in NH, VA, MD, D.C., and IL, released June 2018

Cider Description:  More flavor.  Less sweet.  Harvest Pressed.  Cold fermented.  Nothing but apples.  Made like wine.  Canned for convenience.

Made from Vermont-grown heirloom & cider apples, fermented dry, aged 5 months, then blended with a touch of ice cider to 1.2% residual sugar.  It won silver in the Heritage Dry category at GLINTCAP 2018.

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 (runs $16 / four pack, which sounds like a lot, but is an awesome deal at just over $8 / 750ml instead of ~ $15)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidermaker Eleanor Leger contacted me

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of acidic citrus-forward heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of heirloom apple, lemon, mineral, white grape, green apple, and floral.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Lots of flavor without being sweet.  Complex.  More of the flavor profile was from the heirloom apples (acidic, citrus, floral, fruity) than the cider apples (rich, caramel); I’ve found this to be the case when both types are listed in a blend.

Most Similar to:  A mix between Eden’s Dry and Semi-Dry ciders, although slightly less complex and more sessionable.

Closing Notes:  This is a great option which would work just as well when spending time outside on a hot day as it would with a fancy dinner.

Have you tried any canned heritage ciders?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2017

Happy New Year!  Now that it is 2018, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2017.  This is becoming a tradition; see here for my list from 2016 and 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 enjoy, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  The cider world is very regional, so likely only readers in the NW would have a similar selection.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2017.  Some of the categories overlap.  Truth be told, for the most part, I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

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Budget-Friendly French Cidre:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut (Brittany) or L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (Normandy) – These selections retail for $4.99 and $7.99 respectively.  The Dan Armor is only sold at Trader Joe’s.  Both are on the sweeter side of semi-dry and are true to their respective styles (although the Normandy one is more beginner friendly than many others, as it lacks sourness and only has minimal funk).  The Dan Armor is one of my top picks to introduce folks to good cider with, as it is different from sweet commercial selections, but not so out there as to turn folks off to it.  Its also a nice gauge on sweetness, as it is in the middle of the range.

 

Fancy French Cidre:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux or Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre – I tried so many amazing French cidres this year that I had to include more than one!  These selections cost a tad more than the previous two, $12 and $19.99 respectively, but also have more complexity.  Both of these are low ABV selections, and the Doux was significantly sweeter, as expected for the classification.

 

English Cidre:  Newton Court Gasping Goose (330ml bottles) or Henney’s Vintage (500ml bottles) – Both of these English imports are very budget friendly and tasty.  A bit sweeter than some English ciders (on the sweeter side of semi-dry), rich, and tannic, but not bitter.  Newton Court is available in Seattle, but I’ve only seen the Henney’s in Portland (and only tried the one bottle).

 

Swiss cider:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Premiers Emois – This cider from Switzerland reminds me of French cidre, but has a style all its own.  It was made from Organic native heirloom apples, and wild yeast fermented using traditional methods.  The result was a semi-sweet cider with an awesome fluffy texture and complex fruitiness (but with less apple and yeast forward flavor as most French cidres).

European-Style U.S. cider:  2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – This cider is by far the closest to a French cidre than any other U.S. cider I’ve tried.  It was a noticeable improvement from last year’s vintage as well.  Lots of rich ripe bittersweet apple flavor.  Unfortunately it costs more than most French cidres, as even with the import cost, their production costs are lower, as cider apple varieties aren’t rare like they are here.

 

Perry:  Ramborn Perry – I tried two selections from Ramborn Cider in Luxembourg.  This perry was complex and amazing, with notes of canned pear, dried pear, mango, pineapple, and guava.  Like most perries, as pears have unfermentable sugars, it was a bit sweeter, semi-sweet to semi-dry.

New England style:  Cockrell Colonial Winter – This cider is of true New England style, a high ABV cider with the addition to raisins and brown sugar.  Rich, complex, and perfect for winter.  It is my favorite version of this style so far.

 

Food-Friendly Cider:  Eden Semi-Dry or Eden Guineveres Pearls – Of these, the Semi-Dry is drier, much easier to find, and less expensive.  Both however are excellent selections, quite flavorful, but without anything that would overwhelm or clash with most meals.  They are also some of the most tannic on this list, same as the English selections.

 

Rosé:  Alpenfire Glow – This sweet cider is made from rare red fleshed apples, and similar to Eve’s Rustica (listed below), is amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.  Here the flavor notes were watermelon, strawberry, and rhubarb.  It was a perfect Valentine’s Day cider (a gift from my husband – he knows me well)!

Barrel Aged:  Finnriver Fire Barrel – Note that this pertains to the previous releases of this cider.  I haven’t been nearly as big of a fan of Fire Barrel once they moved to 750ml bottles, as it was not nearly as flavorful (plus the price increased significantly).  In the older version, I love the complexity, intense barrel aged flavor (which is rarely found in cider), and high tannins.

 

Fruity:  2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2 – This cider was made using prickly pear cactus fruit, plus, new for this year, watermelon.  The result is a fluorescent pink fruity cider which is surprisingly complex and flavorful, yet fairly dry.

Rich:  Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper – This cider was made from bittersweet apples, with Crown maple syrup, then bourbon barrel aged for 12 months.  It resulted in a 12% ABV cider, super rich and complex, with a flavor profile including caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  This was a truly artisan small batch cider, worlds away from their typical commercial releases.

 

Spicy:  2 Towns Man Gogh – I’ve never been a fan of spicy ciders, but I finally found one I could enjoy!  Here the hint of spice (from habaneros) was balanced by the fruitiness, sweetness, and acidity of the cider with mango.  This was an imperial cider, but way too easy to drink.

Commercial:  Spire Mountain Dark & Dry – I typically drink craft ciders, but I still drink commercial ciders from time to time.  This one is far from dry (more like semi-sweet), but is dark, and has some great molasses flavor.  It pairs really well with greasy food, like a burger or fish & chips.

 

Unique:  Eve’s Rustica – This is Eve’s sweetest cider (besides their ice cider), and my favorite.  I loved all the flavor they were able to showcase without any additions (just apples & yeast), with notes of honey, cream, vanilla, melon, strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, and peach.

Unexpected:  Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve – This cider was made from heirloom & cider apples, but in contrast had a very unique unexpected flavor profile, with pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, and citrus notes.  It is unique, complex, and bubbly.  My husband is also an especially big fan of this cider.

 

Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (at Total Wine, actually cheaper than at the Cider House), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.  This is more sessionable than you’d expect too.  Semi-dry and semi-sweet, with notes of honey and citrus, plus hints of maple syrup, oak, and spice.

Unexpected & Value:  Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend – This was another unexpectedly awesome cider which was also a great value.  I picked this up in Portland, for just over $7 for 500ml of cider from cider apples.  Semi-dry, with richness, high carbonation, and notes of rich ripe apples, caramel, leather, orange, stone fruit, honey, oak, and apple brandy.

 

Favorite from a New-to-Me cidery:  Woodbox Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider – This was the first (and only) cider I have tried from Woodbox, at Cider Rite of Spring in Portland.  I bought a bottle, but haven’t wanted to open it yet.  Lots of whiskey flavor in addition to caramel, vanilla, oak, and more.  It was rather budget-friendly for an ice cider too, at $17 / 375ml.

Pommeau:  2 Towns Pommeau – This remains my favorite Pommeau.  Super flavorful, rich, and complex, with notes of ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches.

 

Ice Cider:  Eden Cellar Series The Falstaff – This year I was spoiled with an amazing treat, a bottle of Eden’s 7! year barrel aged ice cider.  This ties with Alpenfire Smoke for the most complex cider I’ve ever drank.  The flavor was all over the place, from molasses, caramel, and brown sugar, to tart green apple and lemon, to raisin, to pie spices.

Overall:  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 be it.  However, it is not an everyday sort of cider.  They recently released a new batch of it, but I haven’t tried it yet (I’m still working on my stockpile of the old version).

Other:  Also, while I’m at it, my favorite cider event in 2017 was Cider Summit Seattle, my favorite (and only) class was by Rev Nat, and my favorite bottle shop & bar was Schilling Cider House.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2017.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

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?

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?

Eden Imperial 11 Rosé

Review of Eden’s Imperial 11 Rosé.  This is their newest cider, an Imperial cider made with red currant, sweetened with a bit of ice cider.  I’ve previously tried a number of their ciders; see here.  I ordered this and a few other bottles through their online store, so stay tuned for more Eden reviews.

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Cider:  Imperial 11 Rosé
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  11.o0%
How Supplied:  375ml (and 750ml) bottles
Style:  American craft Imperial (high ABV) rosé (blush colored) cider with red currant, sweetened with ice cider

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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, and likely didn’t make it too far beyond VT.  Eden also offers online sales when allowed by state.

Cider Description:  Heirloom apple cider made with red currant and lightly dosed with ice cider. It is just off-dry and gently fizzy, with bright acidity and chewy tannic structure. A perfectly refreshing summer sipper!

This semi-dry tannic rose cider is fermented with red currant juice and slightly sweetened.  It is made from a blend of traditional and heirloom apple varieties grown within 200 miles of our cidery.

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:  $7.00 (for 375ml; or $14 for 750ml)
Where Bought:  Eden’s online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had read about its release on Facebook, and had been wanting to do an online order for awhile, as there are a number of varieties not available locally.

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First Impression:  Lovely rosé red hue.  Low carbonation with tiny tiny bubbles.  Smells of strawberries and watermelon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of red currant, strawberry, watermelon, honeydew melon, and raspberry.  Long slightly boozy finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I also think this cider is an excellent value, especially considering the high ABV (the 375ml bottle was plenty for me for the evening due to the 11% ABV) and the high cost of heirloom apples and red currants.

Most Similar to:   I more commonly see black currant used in cider.  The only one with red currant I’ve had is Finriver’s newish Liberry Brandy Wine (see here), although I heard Schilling made a Red Currant Ginger cider recently.  I’ve a huge fan of Imperial cider though.

Its uncommon to have a fruity/flavorful Imperial cider.  I think it would be quite difficult to pull off, as a high ABV cider typically requires high sugar content apple juice fermented completely dry, which often results in a less flavorful cider.  Yet in this case the red currants still shown through, which I think is a sign of experienced cidermaking (and likely a lot of experimentation!).  I think the bit of ice cider back sweetening helped in this case make it less harsh, as a completely dry, tart, and high ABV cider can be a bit much.

Closing Notes:   Another winner from Eden!

Have you tried any rosé ciders?  What did you think?