Portland Cider Blueberry Bourbon Basil

Review of Portland Cider’s Blueberry Bourbon Basil, a bourbon barrel aged blueberry-basil cider. It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their lineup (see here).

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Portland Cider.  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:  Blueberry Bourbon Basil
Cidery:  Portland Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland Cider
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  19.2oz single cans and 6 packs of 12oz cans
Style: American craft cider from dessert apples with blueberries and basil, aged in bourbon barrels

Availability:  limited release, on Dec 15 2020 for cans and Jan 2021 for kegs/draft (check out their cider finder), in Oregon (including Portland Cider’s 2 taprooms), Washington, Northern Idaho, and Northern California

Cider Description:  Our collaboration with Blue Star Donuts, the iconic Portland-based donut shop known for their brioche donuts. This cider is exactly what it says – Blueberry, basil, and deep rich bourbon notes from oak aging. It’s delicious mouthful! Tasting notes: Oak, Vanilla, Blueberry Pie, Sweet Basil. Food pairings: Blue Star Donuts, Gouda Cheese, Cured Meats, Chocolate, Toasted hazelnuts.

Cidery Description:  Portland Cider Company is an award-winning premium cider producer that owes its success to the perfect marriage of the cider-making traditions of Somerset, England, with the eclectic and oddly unique spirit of cider-passionate Portland, Oregon.  We are committed to using 100% Northwest apples without additives, colors, or added sugar. This commitment gives our fans, like you, the confidence that you can enjoy the cleanest, crispest, and tastiest cider Portland has to offer.

Price:  ~$4-5 per single 19.2oz can or ~$11-12 per 6 pack of 12oz cans
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

First Impression:  Medium red-purple hue. Very low carbonation. Smells mild, of tart berry.

Tasting Notes: Semi-dry. Light bodied. Moderate to high tartness. Moderate acidity. No bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk. Notes of berry and green apple with hints of herbs and smooth oak (I couldn’t specifically identify basil and bourbon barrel aging). Moderate length tart finish. Low apple flavor. Moderate overall flavor intensity. Low to moderate complexity. High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it, especially due to its unique flavor, which added some complexity to an otherwise relatively common blueberry cider.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had, as although I’ve tried at least 10 blueberry ciders, I only know of sampling 1 other cider with basil, One Tree’s Lemon Basil.

Closing Notes:  It would be interesting to try this with more basil and longer barrel aging, to make those flavors more prominent, although I imagine they wanted to ensure they weren’t overdone.

Have you tried Portland Cider’s Blueberry Bourbon Basil?  What did you think?

2 Towns Blueberry Daze

Review of 2 Towns Blueberry Daze (with blueberries, grapes, and lavender).  It is my first time trying this, although I have had most of their ciders (see here).

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Cider:  Blueberry Daze
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.3%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with blueberries, grapes, and lavender

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Availability:  limited release, Spring 2020 ? , in select areas where 2 Towns is typically sold (Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana)

Cider Description:  Blueberry Daze is a rich, smooth, soft, velvety, lush, and crazy aromatic cider. Yes. All those adjectives. The unfiltered, fresh-pressed Pacific Northwest blueberry juice is dark and full of rich berry-licious flavor. The addition of Muscat grapes lend the cider an incredibly fruity and floral aroma, while the lavender finishes the cider with deep, floral, and intoxicating notes.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  ~ $6.99
Where Bought:  Costco
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Little to no carbonation.  Smells of lavender with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of blueberry, lavender, tart green apple, and a hint of grape.  Moderate length tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and overall complexity.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  The flavor was superb, with some nice complexity for a modern cider (one made from dessert apples, often with adjuncts).  I wouldn’t have minded a tad more sweetness, although as-is its super sessionable.

Most Similar to:  Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, except with blueberries & grapes instead of black currants (both are semi-dry and tart).

Closing Notes:  I wish this was a year-round canned release.

Have you tried 2 Towns Blueberry Daze?  What did you think?

Tod Creek Coastal Blue

Review of Tod Creek’s Coastal Blue, a blueberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Tod Cider Vancouver Island and Mala-Hop.

Cider:  Coastal Blue (blueberry)
Cidery:  Tod Creek Cider
Cidery Location:  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  Canadian craft cider from dessert apples, with local wild blueberries

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Availability:  Western British Columbia, Canada, such as in Victoria and Vancouver (see here)

Cider Description:  We add local blueberry juice to our craft cider for an amazing west coast taste!

Cidery Description:  Victoria’s newest Craft Cider maker. We are a farm based micro-cidery producing quality craft cider from apples sourced locally and throughout BC…We have grown so much in the last year because of the support of the private liquor stores, and restaurants, that have been carrying our cider. Many thanks to them, and please visit them to buy your cider. Or swing by our onsite store and tour our cidery at the same time!  (in Victoria)

Price:  I don’t remember (somewhere between $10 & $15 CAN?), but it was a good deal with the exchange rate being $1 CAD to $0.80 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  A friend brought some to me a couple years ago.  This time when I was in Victoria (cruise port stop), I spotted the blueberry variety, and picked some up as I had heard online that it was popular.

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First Impression:  Deep red/pink/purple hue.  Nearly still.  Smells tart with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  High tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I didn’t really care for this one as it was so tart (even more than Tod Creek’s flagship Tod Cider, a semi-dry citrusy cider).  I was also surprised that it was fairly dry, but as Tod Creek’s other ciders are around the same level of sweetness, I shouldn’t have been.  The blueberry flavor was nice though.

Most Similar to:  Ole Swede Blueberry (which was also semi-dry and very tart, but had some different flavor notes).  Most blueberry ciders I’ve tried were much sweeter, like Locust Smoked Blueberry, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, and Woodchuck Summer Time.  I’ve also tried one which was completely dry and a bit sour, WildCraft Blue River Blueberry.

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this to folks who like drier tart ciders which still retain a good bit of fruitiness.

Have you tried Tod Creek Coastal Blue?  What did you think?

Ole Swede Blueberry Hard Cider

Review of Old Swede’s Blueberry Hard Cider.  They are a relatively new cidery from North Central middle of nowhere WA, and its the first time I’ve tried their cider.  Their second introductory release is a Sour Cherry Perry.

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Cider:  Blueberry Hard Cider
Cidery:  Old Swede
Cidery Location:  Tonasket WA
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  American craft cider made from dessert & crab apple varieties, with blueberries

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Availability:  Only in WA

Cider Description:  Our Cider is crafted from Jonathan, Jonagold, Gala, and Manchurian Crab apples handpicked near the Okanogan River on the Maldonado Family Orchard and Big Check Orchard near Loomis.  These apples were naturally fermented with blueberries from Hunter’s Moon Farm creating a delicious libation.  Nicely balanced, dry to medium dry cider with a hint of blueberries.  Bright, Balanced, Refreshing.

Cidery Description: Our ciders are hand crafted from farm to bottle.  Out family farm was homesteaded in 1899 as new territories were opened in the west, near Havillah, Washington.  Old Swede is born from our roots in North Central Washington’s Okanagan Highlands, a place of natural beauty perched above a valley known around the world for apple production.  We moved back to the family homestead in 2014 and began to take our cider into the world in 2015.

They don’t have a tasting room, but do offer mobile juicing and event catering.

Price:  $9
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  A friend recommended this cider, and I hadn’t tried anything from them, so I thought I’d pick it up.

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First Impression:  Light red wine hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of red wine, grape, blueberries, and tannins.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of sourness and funk.  Notes of red wine, tannic blueberry skin, cherry, pomegranate, and lemon.  Long finish with lingering tartness.  Moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I found this a bit too tart and in general wasn’t wowed by the flavor, but berry cider isn’t typically my favorite.  However, my husband (a red wine drinker) fell in love with this cider, and said its probably his favorite ever!  He kept stealing sips of it.

Most Similar to:  Red wine; I got a lot of grape notes from this, and the blueberry skins and crab apples added some significant tannins.  I’ve previously tried two blueberry ciders, WildCraft Cider Works Blue River Blueberry and Superstition Meadery Blueberry Spaceship Box.  This actually really reminds me of the Blueberry Spaceship Box, with the tartness and blueberry skin tannins.  Although the Blue River Blueberry also had the tartness and blueberry skin tannins, it was much drier and slightly sour.  It also reminds me of Finnriver’s Black Currant cider, which is also grape-like and tart.  I’m curious how different a blueberry cider would turn out if they used blueberry juice vs. throwing in crushed blueberries (which I assume is what they do as all 3 blueberry ciders had that tannic blueberry skin flavor, and would be much less expensive and much easier than adding blueberry juice).

Closing Notes:   This is a great selection in their cider lineup, and will likely be especially appealing to red wine drinkers.  I’m interested to see what else they will release.

Have you tried Ole Swede cider?  What did you think?