Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cider Review: Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider

New York City is lucky enough to be very close to the Hudson Valley, where a great many good apples grow and a great many good ciders are born. Among these cider makers, we have Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery. They’ve won quite a number of awards and produce several different ciders and perries under the imprint Doc’s Draft. Several states have distributors that carry the brand, but it isn’t available everywhere.

Tonight’s review belongs to Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider. This is their straight man cider, no additional fruits or spices.  Its ABV comes to a fairly standard 5%.  This variety won a gold medal in the Hudson Valley Wine Competition and generally ranks as a favorite locally and further afield.

Color and appearance: pale gold

Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider appears mild and light in the glass, but not unusually so. Its color is a fairly cooler than some. No head and few visible bubbles.

Aroma: apple pastry, yeast

The cider smells absolutely like a bakery. The Doc’s Draft gives off a gorgeous apple strudel scent that just makes my mouth water. The aromas aren’t strong, but a careful sniff gives heavenly rewards. It does make one begin to wonder if the cider will be semi-dry as it is described by the maker.

Sweet-dry scale: sweet but beautifully balanced

This has a delicate pleasant sweetness, but it could not be accurately described as semi-dry. I worry that some cider drinkers and makers are beginning to use the sweet to dry continuum as an indicator more of authenticity or cache rather than flavor. Some sweet ciders are delicious, as this one most certainly is.

Drinking experience and flavors: caramel apple, butter

The Doc’s Draft has a very appley flavor, even when compared to other ciders. The apple deepens though, with some dark caramel notes. It feels almost buttery. This cider is lively with a touch of astringency, but it is not too carbonated. The overall picture of robust sweetness, freshness, and gentle sparkle makes for enjoyable easy drinking.

Finish: gentle air of powdered sugar

The finish just makes me want to reach for another sip. It isn’t overly sweet, but it turns from fruity and caramel-y back to the pastry notes of its aroma. Just a smidge of powdered sugar.

Drinking Notes: salty snacks, soft cheeses

Try this with some brie and nuts. The sweet and salty combination works as it should, and the fattiness of either cheese or nuts enhances the mouthfeel of the Doc’s Draft Apple. This is a long conversation kind of cider, so think about pairing it with your most interesting friends and many big ideas.