Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry

Review of Number 12 Ciderhouse’s Chestnut Semi-Dry, a cider made from Minnesota apples and aged with toasted French oak spirals.  This is Number 12 Ciderhouse’s newest release, and the first cider I’ve tried from them.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Number 12.  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:  Chestnut Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Number 12 Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Buffalo, Minnesota
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Minnesota apples (including Chestnut Crabapples), aged with toasted French oak spirals

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<loving these labels!>

Availability:  Number 12 ciders are sold in these locations in Minnesota.

Cider Description:  Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry combines 5 local apple varieties with toasted French Oak. It features the Chestnut Crabapple, developed and introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1946. Hints of orchard honey and crisp apple come alive against a light sparkle and subtle tannins. This cider is approachable, balanced and delicious!

Cidery Description:  Balance is everything . . . In life, and in great ciders.  Number 12 is no different.  We are continuously experimenting to achieve a perfect balance.  Number 12 gets its namesake from the 12th recipe developed in 2011.  It became our first award winner and the beginning of our recognition from the cider community.  Since then, it has become more of a concept, our ideal if you will.  Number 12 represents the idea that greatness in cider is out there somewhere . . . To strive for, to create, to perfect!

They have a tap room in Buffalo Minnesota.

Price:  n/a (retails for $11)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a


First Impression:  Hazy dark lemonade hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of citrus, sourness, funk, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low sourness.  Very high acidity.  Low funk.  Low tannins.  Notes of sharp crabapples, grapefruit, lemon, honey, and charred oak.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  Well-made, but its not really a style I enjoy.  It reminds me of farmhouse-style cider, with its high acidity and some sourness & funk.

Most Similar to:  Other farmhouse-style dry acid-forward ciders such as Millstone Farmgate DrySietsema Traditional Dry, and Angry Orchard Walden Hollow, except with an oak aged twist.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this one.  Next up I have their Sparkling Dry and Black Currant Dry.

Have you tried Number 12 Ciders?  What did you think?

Sheppy’s Oak Matured Somerset Cider Vintage Reserve 2013

Review of Sheppy’s Oak Matured Somerset Cider Vintage Reserve 2013.  I had been on the lookout for a cider with a bold barrel influence, and this one matches that description!

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Cider:  Oak Matured Somerset Cider, Vintage Reserve 2013
Cidery:  Sheppy’s
Cidery Location: Somerset, Taunton, UK
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml brown glass bottle

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Availability:  Wide release in UK, but likely limited in the U.S.

Cider Description:  Vintage Reserve is a fine traditional English cider from the Sheppy family cidermakers.  This quality sparkling cider is crafted from apples from a single year’s harvest grown in the Sheppy orchards in Somerset, England.

Cidery Description:  Farming 320 acres at Three Bridges Farm since 1917, three generations of the Sheppy family have weathered the ups and downs of farming and cidermaking by embracing change and opportunity.  Craftsmen cidermakers for over 200 years.  Quality is central to all our ciders, which are produced from local and home-grown apples here at Three Bridges Farm. Modern technology has been used to assist the completely traditional production of fine English cider, but never to compromise the quality which is associated with the name Sheppy’s Cider.  We are proud to share with visitors from far and wide our beautiful farm and orchards, and to show you as much as possible of how and where we make our delicious ciders.

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Price:  $7.00 / 500ml bottle
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, remembering a recommendation from Sarah of Cider Log

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First Impression:  Golden amber.  Little carbonation.  Distinct rick oak apple scent.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  Wow, this is actually heavily oak aged!  I had been on the lookout for a cider I could say that about, and found it.  For me, it is a favorable heavy oak flavor.  I also pick up caramel, burnt sugar, and vanilla.  My only complaint is the moderate bitterness with the medium-length finish.  However, once it warmed up a bit from fridge temperature, it became less bitter and the flavor smoothed out a bit.

So, I’d recommend between fridge and room temperature with this cider.  At room temperature it got a bit funky.  I find it odd this was described as sparkling cider when I found little carbonation, but maybe they meant not still?  It was also a relatively non-descriptive description on the bottle, which didn’t do this cider justice.  I like that they vintage this cider, as I’d imagine the cider crop can vary significantly year to year, which can definitely impact the flavor, so this way consumers know they may be getting a slightly different product than they had previously.  This is a thick, rich, earthy, and smokey cider with a strong oak barrel flavor.

Most Similar to:  English ciders, but with a more rich & heavy oak flavor.  If you want something sweeter with a less intense but still bold flavor, I’d recommend Thistly Cross Whisky Cask.

Closing Notes:   Yum!  I started off questioning whether I liked this cider, but it really grew on me, and I was sad when the bottle was empty.  For an imported craft cider this seemed to be a good deal at $7.  Full Throttle Bottles is the only shop I’ve seen Sheppy’s at so far, and they had one other variety when I bought this one (Somerset Draught Cider I believe).

Have you tried Sheppy’s Oak Matured cider?  What did you think?

Do you have any other recommendations for me for ciders with a heavy barrel influence?

Schilling Oak Aged

Review of Schilling Oak Aged.  This is my favorite Schilling Cider out of the seven I’ve tried.  Interestingly enough this cider is not oak barrel aged, but instead uses American oak chips in the fermentation and racking process to impart the oak flavor.  I’ve seen this done with other alcoholic beverages (such as whiskey) to be able to more quickly release a product, as barrel aging can be time consuming.  Chips can also cost significantly less.  Some traditionalists may call this “cheating” though.  Here is a cool barrels vs. chips blog post from ALEHEADS from the beer world.

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(and yes of course the can I chose to drink/photograph out of the four has the dent…)

Cider:  Oak Aged
Cidery: Schilling Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Auburn WA (with Cider House in Fremont area of Seattle WA, and a brand new tasting room which opened July 31 2015 at the cidery in Auburn WA)
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied: 12oz can
Availability:  Year round, semi-wide release (probably more so in the PNW)

Cider Description:  Pours a hazy straw gold color with aromas of apples, cinnamon, vanilla, and oak with some smokiness. Flavors of apple, cinnamon, vanilla and oak with a nice spice finish. Fermented and finished on 100% NW oak this cider has a scotch taste complemented by a very smooth and lingering finish.

Cidery Description:  Craft cider company founded in 2012 in Seattle WA.  They use only local apples.  Their current line up includes Hopped, Ginger, & Oak Aged in four packs of 12oz cans, Gold & Dry in four packs of 16 oz cans, and Spiced, Chai, Chaider, & Grapefruit special releases in 22oz bottles (Grapefruit is also now in four packs of 16 oz cans).  Their Cider House also has a large number of cider offerings only available there, such as Berry & Sriracha Lime.  Note that they cite product protection, convenience, and environmental reasons for using cans for their regular lineup.

Price:  $6.50 / 4 cans
Where Bought: Total Wine (I’ve also seen it at Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, Full Throttle Bottles, Special Brews, Schilling Cider House, etc)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing awhile back.  I’ve had this cider a few times.


First Impression: Pale champagne hue.  Very light carbonation.  Mild apple, oak, smoke, & vanilla scents.

Opinion:  Semi dry.  This is a nice mild oaked cider.  I can’t really tell that it is with wood chips and not barrel aged, but I don’t have too refined of a palate.  Oddly enough I pick up very little spice in this (which is good as its not something I enjoy), in contrast to most folks who notice cinnamon & cloves.  I do however pick up the vanilla and some mild smokiness.  Like most ciders, it starts sweeter and finishes a bit drier.  It is a quick finishing cider, and I pick up a bit of acidity at the end.  The flavor really reminds me of champagne / sparkling cider, but less bubbly of course.  I think more carbonation and oakiness would be nice in this cider, as its on the mellow side.  However, it makes for easy drinking.

Most Similar to: Finnriver Oak & Apple, which I tried at the Schilling Cider House after being surprised they didn’t have their own Shilling Oak Aged on tap.  I give a slight edge to Finnriver over Schilling after tasting Schilling again (in my Schilling Cider House tasting notes I had thought the opposite).  There is however quite a cost difference between the two cider brands, with the Finnriver typically costing much more (although it appears Finnriver Oak & Apple isn’t currently available in bottles?).  Interestingly enough the Finnriver Oak & Apple is barrel aged.  I can’t however pinpoint why I have this preference without tasting them side by side.

Interesting Fact:  Founder Colin Schilling is the great-great grandson of August Schilling, founder of Schilling Spice Company (now McCormick).  (Source)

Closing Notes:  This is a solid and enjoyable cider.  The affordability is a nice bonus.

Have you tried Schilling Oak Aged?  What did you think?