Happy New Year! Now that it is nearly 2019, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2018. This is a tradition here at Cider Says; see here for my list from 2017, 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 2018. Some of the categories overlap. However, I cheated a bit, as I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!
barrel aged: Tieton Bourbon Peach – This has more juicy peach flavor than bourbon, but the two go well together, and there is some nice complexity for being made from dessert apples.
botanical-infused: Finnriver Lavender Black Currant – This mouth-puckering tart cider is primarily black currant flavored, but also has hints of lavender.
brewery-made: Central City Limited Edition Imperial Cider – Most ciders I’ve tried that were made by breweries were disappointing, but this one was awesome, complex, imperial-style, and bourbon barrel aged.
canned commercial: Woodchuck 802 Collection ‘Lil Dry – Many commercial ciders are overly sweet and uninspired, but this was semi-dry, flavorful, and craft tasting.
cyser: Merridale Cyser – This cyser was imperial style and had some nice flavor and complexity, beyond just tasting like apple and honey.
draft commercial: Somersby Apple Cider – As much as I enjoy craft cider, sometimes a commercial cider really hits the spot, plus often that is all you can find. This cider is from Denmark but I tried it in Canada on vacation. Apple forward and not too sweet.
everyday English cider: Newton Court Gasping Goose – I’m a huge fan of English cider, and this was a go-to of mine, although unfortunately it is no longer available. Tannic, rich, flavorful, clean, and sessionable.
fancy English cider: Oliver’s Gold Rush batch #2 – This cider is crazy rich and complex, and a lovely deep hue too. A steal at $15/bottle. Wish I could find more. I picked some up on vacation, and got lucky when I returned the next year and they still had 1 bottle left, but haven’t seen it locally.
French cidre: Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut Tender and Ferme de Beau Soleil Cidre Fermier Bio Brut – I’m also a big French cider fan, and tried a number of great selections this year, but these stood out.
French perry: Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec – This French perry is unique, with its fluffy texture, tartness, great real pear flavor, and a bit less sweet. I haven’t found any American perries like the French ones I’ve had.
French Pommeau: Hérout à Auvers Pommeau de Normandie AOC – I tried this awesome Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) at Cider Summit. I’m looking forward to opening the bottle of it that I bought.
fruity: Portland Sangria – Very fruity, with unexpected complexity, a fruit salad sort of cider.
ginger-infused: Kystin Kalysie – I’m not a ginger fan, but I actually enjoyed the hint of ginger in this French perry.
ice cider: Woodbox Double Barrel – This is a less sweet ice cider, with rich concentrated flavor, and a twist, having been whiskey barrel aged.
large craft cider made with cider apples: Schilling Excelsior – This was made using bittersweet cider apples in addition to regular varieties, but remains beginner-friendly, staying a bit sweeter and clean and such. I’m seeing more mainstream ciders being made using cider apples, although often it seems like it must have been a small amount. The cider apple influence was definitely noticeable in Excelsior though.
New England style: Alpenfire Tempest – The style is characterized by the use of brown sugar and raisins, and this is a great example. It even reminded me of English cider.
pineapple cider: 2 Towns Pacific Pineapple – This cider is bursting with real fresh pineapple flavor, yet its less sweet.
Pommeau: Phillippi Fruit Snow Dance – This U.S.-made Pommeau is super flavorful and complex, and reminiscent of cyser.
rosé: Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé and La Chouette Cidre Rosé – Both of these sweet French rosés are made from red-fleshed apples plus pears, and have a lovely fluffy texture. I’m not sure if I could even tell them apart in a taste comparison, they are so similar.
single varietal: Liberty Kingston Black – Made from only Kingston Black cider apples. Tart, rich, and complex, with a hint of sweetness, which I appreciated, as often these sorts of ciders go completely dry.
tannic cider: Finnriver Fire Barrel version 1 – Super tannic, flavorful, and complex, reminiscent of English cider. I wasn’t as much of a fan of their more recent version 2 of it though.
tropical: One Tree Staycation – I loved the complexity of this, which was unexpected for a cider from dessert apples. I drank way too much of this over the summer!
unexpected: Fresh Cut Watermelon Cider – Based on the can design and flavor, I was expecting this Canadian cider to be fake and syrupy, but this was superbly done, real tasting and semi-dry.
unique: Kystin Cuvée XVII – 16 varieties of apples plus chestnuts are used in this unique, complex, tannic, and nutty French cider.
Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2018. They have a lot in common – most are mid-level sweetness, rich, complex, and full-flavored. What are some of your favorite ciders?