Whitewood Jonathan

Review of Whitewood Cider’s Jonathan.  I previously tried this on draft (see here).  Plus I’ve had their Summer SwitchelKingston Black Whisky Barrel AgedRed CapGravenstein Old Fangled Series 2012 HarvestGravenstein Old Fangled Series Barrel AgedNorthlandWinesapGibb’s FarmNewtown Pippin, and South Sounder.

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Cider:  Old Fangled Series, Jonathan (2015 harvest)
Cidery:  Whitewood Cider
Cidery Location:  Olympia WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft heritage cider from Jonathan apples, sugar added, medium dry

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Availability:  only in Washington – see here

Cider Description:  Jonathan is an early American variety and dates back to the early 1800’s. Whitewood’s Single Varietal Jonathan Cider starts out full up front good acid backbone followed by scant traces of a caramel/butterscotch flavors, and finishes clean with notes of, sour orange, meyer lemon, and citrus flavors. 

Cidery Description:  Whitewood Cider is the South Puget Sound’s first craft cidery. Officially we are a nano cider and can be hard to locate. Fear not as you’ll be able to find us at the finest bottles shops as well pubs and and restaurants that are the most dedicated to locally made craft cider.

They have a tasting room in Olympia; see here.

Price:  ~ $15 ?
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells apple-forward.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of juicy apple and lemon with hints of honey and tropical fruit.  Quick finish.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, and so did my husband.  Super easy to drink and apple-forward, yet it had a bit of complexity – you can tell it is heritage craft cider.

Most Similar to:  a more complex and sessionable version of Portland Cider Perfect 10

Closing Notes:  This would make a great introductory craft cider, plus I’d like to see it in a multipack.

Have you tried Whitewood Jonathan?  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.

Schilling Cider House Visit 29 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 29th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

I was there on a Tuesday afternoon with my husband, following the Washington Cider Week preview at Capitol Cider.  These definitely aren’t my best tasting notes, as we were in a rush to beat the traffic home, and my husband distracted me from taking notes.

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<left to right:  Whitewood Jonathan, Double Mountain Dry, 2 Towns Afton Field, Newton Court Perry, Seattle Cider City Fruit, and Finnriver Lavender Black Currant>

Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA) Jonathan (6.9% ABV):  This is a single varietal cider from Jonathan apples, also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Apple forward with citrus and honey notes.  This is one of my favorite dry ciders ever, as it is very approachable, without a harsh acidity, and more flavorful than expected.

Double Mountain (Hood River OR) Dry (6.7% ABV):  This cider is made by a brewery, and appears to be draft-only.  I tried their Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider on draft at Cider Summit Seattle last year (see here).  Dry.  Low sourness and funk.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Primarily heirloom apple and citrus notes.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Afton Field (6.4% ABV):  I thought I had tried this one, but can’t find any reviews, so maybe not.  Also available in bottles.  This farmhouse-style cider is part of their Traditions line, and also available in bottles.  Dry.  Low sourness and funk.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Notes of citrus and mineral.

Newton Court (Herefordshire England) Panting Partridge Perry (5.3% ABV):  This is an English perry, also available in bottles, new to the Seattle area at least.  They also have a bottled (and likely draft) cider available, Gasping Goose.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low sourness and funk.  Pear-forward and fruity.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) City Fruit (6.3% ABV):  This cider was made using community apples from City Fruit, and is also available in bottles (this was previously only exclusively sold at Whole Foods).  Dry.  High acidity.  Moderate tartness.  Notes of citrus and stone fruit.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Lavender Black Currant (6.5% ABV):  I’ve had this cider on numerous previous occasions, but I never turn down having some on Nitro tap.  Also available in bottles.  Semi-sweet.  Awesome fluffy texture.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  It is a yummy flavorful combination of fruity black currant and herbal lavender.

My husband’s favorite was Double Mountain Dry, mine was Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, and the most unexpected (in a good way) was Whitewood Jonathan.  There were a surprising number of sour / farmhouse-style ciders (3), which isn’t my thing, but maybe I’ll eventually acquire the taste for them.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Whitewood South Sounder

Review of Whitewood’s South Sounder.  Its my first time trying it, but I’ve previously had their Summer SwitchelKingston Black Whisky Barrel Aged, Red CapGravenstein Old Fangled Series 2012 HarvestGravenstein Old Fangled Series Barrel Aged, Northland, Winesap, Gibb’s Farm, and Newtown Pippin.

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Cider:  South Sounder
Cidery:  Whitewood
Cidery Location:  Olympia WA
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from community sourced apples, with quince added (an astringent & sour fruit that looks similar to a pear)

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Availability:  Per this list, only in Washington, including Olympia, Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Eastern Washington.

Cider Description:  Semi-dry cider.  Community sourced apples & quince.  Limited release.  Made exclusively from 2015 harvest apples and quince provided by friends and farms of South Puget Sound.

Cidery Description:  Whitewood Cider is the South Puget Sound’s first craft cidery. Officially we are a nano cider and can be hard to locate. Fear not as you’ll be able to find us at the finest bottles shops as well pubs and and restaurants that are the most dedicated to locally made craft cider.

Too often the word traditional is haphazardly thrown around when it comes to making cider. At Whitewood Cider Company we make hard cider seasonally, as traditional as it gets, just as cider has always been made.

  • We pick and press apples in the Autumn as they are ripe and properly sweated out to produce the thickest richest juices possible.
  • Our ciders ferment slow all throughout the Winter at the cold ambient temperatures of South Puget Sound
  • We rack and blend our ciders in the late Winter and early Spring.
  • Curing the late Spring after the ciders have had ample time torest and mature, we rack our cider once more and begin bottling and kegging. 

When it comes to apple selection and cidermaking we have a “no compromise” approach. We believe cidermaking is an art and that the best fruit and the best practices yield the best cider possible.

Whitewood Cider is owned and operated by Dave White (of Old Time Cider) and Heather Ringwood.  Visits to their Olympia Washington cidery are by appointment only.

Price:  $16.25
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  Its one of the few (only?) ciders I hadn’t tried from Whitewood, so I was game to give it a go.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of pineapple, mango, and green apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of green apple skin, lemon, pineapple, mango, quince, grapefruit, and hints of floral & herbal.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  This would especially be a nice summer cider.  Its very tart and fruity and finishes with a bite.

Most Similar to:  Ciders with high tartness & acidity and tropical notes.  Eaglemount Quince, which I think I prefer, as it isn’t as tart.  Besides that the only other cider with quince that I’ve tried is Honey Moon CiderHead Quince, which had less complexity than both the Whitewood and Eaglemount ciders.

Closing Notes:   My favorite Whitewood cider remains the Kingston Black Whisky Barrel Aged, as I prefer richer flavor.  I also really liked Northland and Gibb’s Farm.  I’ll have to see if I can find any more to try from Whitewood!

Have you tried Whitewood South Sounder?  What did you think?

Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend WA – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend Washington, which includes tasting notes on the ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.

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Bull Run Pear Ice Wine, 12% – This is a 9% residual sugar ice perry, made from Hood River Oregon Bosc and Anjou pears, similar to how ice cider or ice (grape) wine is made (using the natural cold to concentrate the sweetness & flavor of the fruit).  Semi-sweet to sweet (less sweet than a typical ice cider oddly enough, despite perries usually being sweeter than ciders as pears have non-fermentable sugars).  Moderate to full bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  I found this unique, like a complex pear syrup, with a well-hidden ABV.  In addition to all the pear flavor, there were some honey, citrus, and melon notes.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

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Nashi Orchards Barrel Fermented Cider, 6.9% – This is a cider made from primarily Winesap apples with some French & English bittersweets (from the WSU Mt. Vernon Cider Research Center), aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Definite Winesap apple flavor with hints of richness from the bittersweet apples.  Notes of oak (low) and honey.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  Overall this is quite subtle, similar to their other products I’ve tried.  I would love to see them do something made from only bittersweet apples and barrel aged, as those are my favorites, but alas, good cider apples are hard to come by / expensive, so its not done much here in the U.S. (which is why I am also a big fan of English & French imports).

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Nashi Orchards Island Harvest Perry, 6.7% – This perry is from 90% Asian pears (Shinsseiki and perry pears) and 10% seedling pears foraged on Vashon island.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of pear, lemon, lime, and mineral.  Moderate sessionability.  Low pear flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I found it to be very light; I think this would be great to pair with food.  It was also very subtle.

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New West Cidery – I thought I’d add a little about this cidery, as I hadn’t even heard of them before this event (their cider isn’t distributed to Seattle).  They are part of Sasquatch Brewing in Portland Oregon, which was founded in 2011.  They started making cider a few years ago under the New West name.  They are opening a separate cidery in Northwest Portland in a couple months which will have 90 barrel fermenters (which is very large capacity considering a standard keg holds half a barrel).  At the brewery’s tap room in Portland they currently offer 12 cider taps (including guest taps).

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New West Black & Blue, 6.8% – Lovely deep berry hue.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness and acidity.  Very mild pure berry flavor, 50-50 blackberry and blueberry.  Quick finish.  No apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I like a more flavorful cider, so I didn’t really care for this.

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New West Señor Cider, 6.8% – Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of several different hot peppers and a hint of citrus & honey.  Moderate heat, mostly at the end of the sip, which lingers with a long finish.  Low apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  I don’t like spicy ciders, so I didn’t like this at all.  I think a spicy cider works better when the spice level is low, it has higher residual sugar, and there is some flavor balance (like significant honey notes).  Enough people must like these though, as cideries keep making them (for example – the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA actually has a tap line dedicated to a rotating selection of spicy Schilling ciders).

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Rambling Route Pear, 6.9% – This is the second cider in Tieton’s Rambling Route line, their Apple variety with Bartlett pear juice added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nearly still.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Very light pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  I think I prefer their Apple variety, although I’m not really a fan of either.  I think Tieton’s regular line of ciders is superior (although that is likely to be expected from the price point), especially the recent draft-only Bourbon Peach (my tasting notes here).

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Snowdrift Cornice, 7.3% – I’ve tried this before (see here), but it was awhile back, and I was curious how this year’s version turned out.  This is their barrel aged cider made from cider apple varieties.  Smells mildly oaky.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of oak, smoke, and honey.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I found this vintage to be more approachable than their previous one, but I really enjoyed both.

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Spire Mountain Dark & Dry, Jack Daniels Barrel Aged, 5.0% – This is a special version of their typical Dark & Dry cider which was aged in Jack Daniel whiskey barrels for 8 months.  Smells strongly of whiskey, plus some oak and brown sugar.  Semi-dry to dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high bitterness.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of brown sugar, molasses, whiskey, vanilla, and coffee.  Long bitter finish.  High spirit influence.  Low barrel influence.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Its crazy how the barrel aging changed this cider from a fairly simple sweet cider to a bitter complex dry cider!  I think they are on to something with barrel aging this cider, but it was aged too long for my liking (something I thought I’d never say…I always say I wish a cider was aged longer!), as it was too intensely bitter.

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Spire Mountain Dry Hop Apple, 5.0% – This is their Red Apple cider with Citra hops, their new Summer Seasonal.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, slightly syrupy.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Subtle hops flavor, more herbaceous than citrusy, which is unusual for a Citra hopped cider.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I thought this was pretty decent for a commercial cider; I liked how the hops flavor wasn’t overwhelming, although I think I like a more citrus-forward hopped cider.

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Wandering Aengus Wanderlust, 6.9% – This was their first cider variety they made 12 years ago.  Its an off-dry (0.5% residual sugar) English-style cider made from primarily heirloom sharp plus some bittersweet apples.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of bittersweet apples, oak, and mineral.  Sharp flavor with hints of richness.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  This time around I enjoyed it better than when I tried it awhile back; either this batch had less bitterness than previously and/or I’m not as sensitive to it anymore.

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Whitewood Gibb’s Farm, 6.7% – They nicknamed this limited release cider a “Farmer’s Reserve”.  It was made from a large number of varieties of apples only from Grant Gibbs’ farm outside of Leavenworth WA.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied with a nice texture, slightly syrupy.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Notes of sharp apples, honey, and lemon.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Moderate to strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  I enjoyed it.

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Whitewood Newtown Pippin, 6.9% – This is a Newtown Pippin apple single varietal, part of their Old Fangled Series, made from 2016 harvest apples from Hood River Oregon.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, with a nice frothy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Moderate sessionability.  I found this to be very mild, which is characteristic of Newtown Pippins, but not something I prefer.

I didn’t taste ciders from every cidery there (as I had tried the remainder of the lineup), but here are photos of the other booths.

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<Finnriver>

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<Eaglemount>

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<I agree with this sentiment!>

Schilling Cider House Visit 15 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my fifteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.  I was there on a Tuesday evening for a tasting event with Longdrop Cider (from the Boise Idaho area).

I started with a flight before the event, then sampled four Longdrop ciders (2 on tap, 1 bottled, and 1 canned) and a bit of a Canadian ice cider which Sarah opened.  There were supposed to be 4 kegs from Longdrop, but 2 didn’t make it in time.  I hadn’t previously tried any of their ciders.  Longdrop is relatively new to Washington (their ciders are sold throughout Idaho and in Seattle WA and Portland OR).  I got to meet their “head apple wrangler” (Chris Blanchard) and they had some giveaways (I got a sweet t-shirt).

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<left to right: Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, Red Tank Roughneck, Whitewood Winesap, Farnum Hill Dooryard, Jester & Judge Pineapple, and Snowdrift Semi-Dry>

Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, 5.0% ABV, Auburn WA:  This is a one-off keg of their Grapefruit cider infused with peach and habanero.  I’ve tried many of their ciders.  Very hazy.  Smells like grapefruit with some definite spiciness.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  I didn’t really taste any peach, only grapefruit, and the spiciness was overwhelming for me.  Long spicy finish.  I learned that the Cider House will maintain one “spicy” tap line, and this currently replaces their Sriracha Lime.  I couldn’t do more than two tiny sips of this one; my favorites from them remain King’s Shilling and Pineapple Paradise.

Red Tank Roughneck, 6.5% ABV, Bend OR:  This is one of their flagship ciders.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness and sourness.  Kinda bland / low flavor intensity, but it had a bit of unfiltered apple juice flavor, yeast, and earthiness.  For unfiltered ciders, I prefer 2 Towns OutCider.

Whitewood Winesap, 6.8% ABV, Olympia WA:  A special release tap-only cider.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry. Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of tannins.  Slightly sharp, apple-forward, and citrus-forward.  It mellowed out a bit as it warmed up.  Medium bodied.  I found this similar to the other single varietal winesap apple ciders I’ve tried from Blue Mountain and Locust, and slightly wine-like.  My favorite from them is the Whiskey Barrel Aged Kingston Black, which is one of my all time favorite ciders (and I was only able to sample a bit twice; hopefully it is released in bottles sometime).

Farnum Hill Dooryard, 7.5% ABV, Lebanon NH:  This is one of their best selling / flagship ciders; Farnum Hill typically labels the different batches of this cider with a code, and you can look up what is in them online (they vary apple varieties and such quite a bit under the same Dooryard label), but I don’t know what batch this was.  Also available in bottles, and sold from their Poverty Lane Orchard in growlers.  I’ve previously only tried their Extra Dry cider.  Dry.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate bitterness.  Mild funk.  A hint of sourness as it warmed up.  Mild tannins.  Citrus, vanilla, mineral, and clove notes.  Wine-like and nuanced.  This isn’t really my cup of tea.

Jester & Judge Pineapple Express, 5.5% ABV, Stevenson WA:  This is a new tap-only release.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Hazy.  Semi-sweet.  Strong fresh pineapple flavor!  Nice fizziness/frothiness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.  I really enjoyed this one, despite its simplicity.  I found it similar to Schilling’s Pineapple Passion / Trouble in Paradise, but with slight lime instead of slight passion fruit notes.

Snowdrift Semi-Dry, 7.1% ABV, Wenatchee WA:  This is one of their flagship ciders, and although I’ve tried most of them, I had only seen their Dry variety previously.  Available in bottles and kegs.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness.  Mild tannins.  Medium bodied.  Sharp flavor with some crabapple, apple pomace, and brown sugar notes, and slight richness.  Moderate length finish.  My favorites from them remain Red, Cornice, and Cliffbreaks Blend.

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Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is their spring seasonal release, a pear cider (apple + pear, not perry), available in 22oz bottles.  Smells like juicy pear.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied, with a fizzy/frothy mouthfeel.  Quick finish.  Simple apple & pear flavor, but it was nice & light and easy to drink.

Longdrop Vanilla Honey, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples, with Madagascar Vanilla beans and Idaho honey.  Smells strongly of honey.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Honeycomb flavor with a hint of vanilla.  Quick finish.  I really loved the honeycomb flavor; you can tell it was high quality honey.

Longdrop Derby Canyon, 6.9%, Eagle ID:  This is a special release for the 2016 Apple Blossom Festival, named after a landmark in Washington nearby where the apples for this cider are from.  This cider was made with 100% Wenatchee Valley apples…”it’s got a big apple taste with some complexity – probably because it’s got one of every kind of apple out there in it”.  Available in 220z bottles and kegs.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some unfiltered apple juice flavor.

Longdrop Semi-Sweet, 5.5% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some vanilla notes and a hint of vinegar/salt?

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Pomme De Coeur ice cider, 6.9% ABV, Rougemont Canada:  This is the first Canadian ice cider I’ve tried, and the lowest ABV I’ve seen.  Its pretty widely available in boxed tall 375ml bottles.  Ice cider originated in Quebec, and is made with either apples or apple juice which has been exposed to cold cycles, which concentrates the sugar (and thus flavor), and produces a higher ABV beverage as well.  Smells like caramelized sugar.  Sweet but not as sweet as other ice ciders such as from Eden.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like, with less complexity than other ice ciders.  It also doesn’t have the body and higher ABV of most ice ciders.  I liked the first couple sips, but after that its inferior quality was apparent.  I like the super concentrated intense flavor of other ice ciders; Eden Northern Spy (barrel aged) is my favorite so far.  Although its about $15 (vs. $30+) for 375ml, I’d rather get the good stuff.  I imagine there are much better Canadian ice ciders available than this (often the more commercial beverages are the ones which have the means to export their products), so I hope to try another in the future.

My favorite Longdrop cider was the Vanilla Honey, and my favorite cider from my flight was Jester & Judge’s Pineapple cider.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Whitewood Cider Northland

Review of Whitewood Cider’s Northland, described as a medium dry cider made from heirloom and traditional cider apples grown in the Pacific Northwest.  Whitewood Cider was started in Olympia Washington in 2012 and released their first ciders in 2013 (check out this article).  I’ve tried five other ciders from them (Summer Switchel, Red Cap, Whiskey Barrel Aged Kingston Black, Gravenstein Old Fangled 2012 Harvest, and Gravenstein Old Fangled Barrel Aged), but this is my first full review.

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<I love the styling of their bottles!>

Cider:  Northland
Cidery:  Whitewood Cider
Cidery Location:  Olympia Washington
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass bottle
Style:  American craft cider made from heirloom and traditional cider apples

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Availability:  Per this list, only in Washington, including Olympia, Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Eastern Washington.

Cider Description:  Our Northland Traditional Blend is traditional as it gets. European cider apple varieties blended at the press, fermented through the winter, racked, blended again and matured into early Summer. Lightly back-sweetened for balance and bring out fruitiness. 

Floral spicy sweet nose, with strong characteristics of sweet apple, stone fruit, ripe orange and a tropical fruit acidity and wine-like tannic/bitter notes balanced with a crisp clean finish.

(Note that it looks like this description is from another release, Northland Traditional, which only used traditional cider apples.  Mine says both heirloom and traditional cider apples were used.)

ADDED:  Dave White from Whitewood said this batch was actually all bittersweets & bittersharps.  For awhile some Newtown Pippins had been added “to open it up a bit but the cider evolved and softened to no longer need it.”

 

Cidery Description:  Whitewood Cider is the South Puget Sound’s first craft cidery. Officially we are a nano cider and can be hard to locate. Fear not as you’ll be able to find us at the finest bottles shops as well pubs and and restaurants that are the most dedicated to locally made craft cider.

Too often the word traditional is haphazardly thrown around when it comes to making cider. At Whitewood Cider Company we make hard cider seasonally, as traditional as it gets, just as cider has always been made.

  • We pick and press apples in the Autumn as they are ripe and properly sweated out to produce the thickest richest juices possible.
  • Our ciders ferment slow all throughout the Winter at the cold ambient temperatures of South Puget Sound
  • We rack and blend our ciders in the late Winter and early Spring.
  • Curing the late Spring after the ciders have had ample time torest and mature, we rack our cider once more and begin bottling and kegging. 

When it comes to apple selection and cidermaking we have a “no compromise” approach. We believe cidermaking is an art and that the best fruit and the best practices yield the best cider possible.

Whitewood Cider is owned and operated by Dave White (of Old Time Cider) and Heather Ringwood.  Visits to their Olympia Washington cidery are by appointment only.

Price:  ~$16
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had been wanting to try a bottle and do a full review, and this one sounded like something I’d enjoy.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow / light amber.  Very little carbonation upon pouring, and a light foam ring.  Smells fairly simple and clean, of mild apple juice and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry, although with all the fruity notes some may perceive it as sweeter.  Medium bodied.  Nearly still (very little carbonation).  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  Mild tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of apple, honey, yeast, mineral, floral, tropical fruit, and citrus.  Slight richness.  Moderate length finish with some unexpected warming.  Moderate complexity.  Strong apple influence.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I enjoyed all the apple flavor in this one, likely a product of them back sweetening the cider.  This would make a great introductory craft cider..it retains some sweetness, the tannins remain mild, and it has a lot of apple flavor.

Most Similar to:  Other semi-dry apple-forward ciders.  It actually reminds me of Breton French ciders, except with much less carbonation, as it is so apple and yeast forward (although French ciders are typically keeved, not back sweetened).

Closing Notes:   I enjoyed this cider and look forward to trying more from Whitewood.  I still haven’t tried South Sounder, or the regular Old Fangled blend (instead of the single varietal Gravenstein one).  My favorite cider from them remains the limited release Whiskey Barrel Kington Black, which I tried last year at Cider Summit Seattle and an event at Capitol Cider with Bill Bradshaw, and was one of my favorite ciders of 2015.  Hopefully they make it again, as I didn’t get to purchase any bottles.

Have you tried Whitewood Cider Northland?  What did you think?