Grand Illusion Blue Illusion

Review of Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Blue Illusion, a blueberry-lavender cider.  I previously tried their Mystic Citra Pineapple.

Cider:  Blue Illusion
Cidery:  Grand Illusion Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Carlisle PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with blueberries and English lavender

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Grand Illustion.  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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Availability:  in Pennsylvania, primarily at their taproom, but soon, at some other locations

Cider Description:  This well-balanced blueberry-lavender cider offers a pleasant sweetness and a light berry fruitiness; it finishes with a touch of English lavender.

Cidery Description:  We are Grand Illusion, a hard cider production company located in Carlisle, PA.  We use fresh pressed apples from Adams and York County to create magical ciders for all to enjoy.  Our taproom in downtown Carlisle has become a destination, with 15 ciders, 5 beers, and 8 wines – all on draft and all from Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a local newspaper on the cidery.  They serve both their own ciders and ciders from other cideries at their taproom; see their tap list here.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $44 / case, likely ~ $11 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery owners contacted me

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First Impression:  Lovely purple-blue hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of lavender with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of citrus and a hint of berry.  Moderate length finish with a hint of hops? (I had this after one of their hopped ciders, but my glass was clean, I also picked it up straight out of the can, and my husband was able to taste it too).  Low apple flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it, but I would have liked more sweetness and flavor.  I only picked up the lavender in the scent, where it was quite prevalent, so it was a bit of a letdown for it to not transfer to the flavor.  However, I’ve had that happen with quite a few ciders I’ve tried.  The finish with hops was unexpected.  The flavor combination was nice though, and it was quite drinkable, plus for me it was more sessionable than their two hopped varieties I tried, due to the lack of bitterness.

Most Similar to:  Greenwood Lavender Blackberry.  Or, a less sweet and lower flavor intensity version of Finnriver Lavender Black Currant (which I really enjoy).  I was surprised upon searching my list that I’ve tried at least 7 ciders with lavender and 6 ciders with blueberry; I would have guessed less.

Closing Notes:  Per Cider Culture, this was Grand Illusion’s first release, in April.  Next up I have their hopped grapefruit variety.

Have you tried lavender infused cider?  What did you think?

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Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co. Lavender Lemon

Review of Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Company’s Lavender Lemon.  This isn’t cider, but instead a carbonated fruit wine, made from fermenting water, lemon juice, sugar, and lavender.  Its my first time trying anything from Hi-Wheel.

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Beverage:  Lavender Lemon Carbonated Fruit Wine
Company:  Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co.
Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft fruit wine made from lemon and lavender

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Availability:  Oregon and Washington

Product Description: This refreshing drink has the same lemon start as its cousin Ginger Lemon, but infused with lavender.

Company Description:  Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co. makes fizzy wines out of fruit not typically used for wine making, such as grapefruit, lemon & lime. Brewed with culinary herbs and spices, we present a growing series of session beverages with AVB around 6.8%, such as Ruby Zozzle (grapefruit), Ginger Lemon, Lavender Lemon, & Lime Habanero.

Hi-Wheel also crafts long-aged meads, with a release of Beloved Sovereign – an herbal honey wine made with Sauvie Island honey, savory spices & citrus – later this autumn. These meads are designed for intimate dinners and connections, in tasteful packaging, and run about 14% AVB.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had seen them before, but only other varieties which didn’t appeal to me (I’m not a fan of grapefruit, ginger, or spicy beverages).

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of tart lemonade with a hint of lavender.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acid.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of only lemonade and lavender.  Moderate finish with lingering tart lemon and a hint of booze.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Very low complexity.  Very high sessionability (this was too easy to drink!).

My Opinion:  A refreshing summer sipper.  No complexity, but I liked it.  I would have preferred slightly less tartness (as well as more carbonation), but I imagine most folks will like the high tartness, and it only bothered me the first few sips.  I appreciated that it wasn’t overly sweet.  The lavender worked well and was an appropriate amount–definitely noticeable but not overpowering.  This would have been quite boring without the lavender.

Most Similar to:  Other alcoholic lemonades, such as from Crabbie’s and Big B’s.  I think I slightly prefer the Big B’s Lazy Daze (although its actually a mix of cider with lemonade, so maybe that is why).

Closing Notes:   I’m curious to try their other products.  I imagine this will sell well, as altervative alcoholic beverages are popular now (alcopop and the like).

Have you tried Hi-Wheel’s fruit wines?  What did you think?