Monday, February 4, 2013

Cider Review: J. K.'s Northern Neighbor Farmhouse Cider

 
J. K. makes a number of organic ciders and represents the efforts of Almar Orchard in Michigan. Depending on who you ask, the J. K. can either stand for Jim Koan or Jim and Karen, and in either case, it connects the cider maker to the cider. These folks take great pride in what they do and claim a continual cider-pressing tradition dating back to the 1850s, something truly unusual in the United States. Their website is well done and full of interesting information. I must admit though that I do have my doubts about how they use some cider terminology like scrumpy. (Maybe I'm just being an English major.)

This particular J. K. cider is their Saskatoon Cuvee; it is made using a mixture of Michigan Apples and a Canadian prairie apple: the Saskatoon. I wish I could find out more specific information on this particular cider of theirs, but I can say that these apples hail from the region of Saskatchewan. The term Cuvee is not precisely regulated, but usually implies a special blend that is set apart from a maker's usual stock. That certainly seems how it is used in this case.

Color and appearance: red and cloudy

To see this much red in a cider is totally unusual. I cannot believe I forgot to photograph the cider. It is beautiful in the glass and would be perfect for creating some romantic atmosphere for that simultaneously beloved and dreaded upcoming holiday, Valentine's Day.

Aroma: sweetly tangy, red fruits, carrot

Lovely and gentle, slightly tangy. The scent of this cider could be described as slightly vinegary. It makes me very curious to see how it will taste.

Sweet-dry scale: Very Sweet

The sweetness is immediate and palpabale. If you’ve tried any ciders by J. K. Cider you’ll recognize it, because it is characteristic of the brand. All of their ciders are quite sweet. Let that be a litmus test before you decide to try it because sweetness as a quality does so often divide cider drinkers. I think the cider would be better less sweet, but I also know folks who would prefer this.

Drinking experience and flavors: thick fruity start, sweet, fast

Cherry, and lots of fresh red fruits. The level of carbonation is mild. This paired with the sweetness could make this a quick, easy-to-drink cider. I like it, but I can easily see how it would be too sweet and uncomplicated for some cider fans.

Finish: vanilla

Beautifully lingering finish, it is perhaps the best thing about the cider.

Drinking Notes: pair with desserts, could be great for a cider float

The whole picture, a beautiful red cider with loads of sweetness and easy approachable flavors, medium sparkle, and a vanilla finish suggests romance to me. I'd pair it therefore with some sweet baked goods like red velvet cupcakes or milk chocolate. Drink it with a sweetie.

Photo Credit: Original photo by Bruce at J. K. Cider. He helped me out since I forgot to photograph this one at all. Editing by me via Flickr. 

As a bonus/apology. I do feel very sorry for failing to take my usual product photos. What is the best way to apologize in photos? Cat pictures. So, without further ado, here is a picture of all of the cats at Along Came a Cider HQ being lazy.
 

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like it's got nice apple flavor; I wonder how it would pair with sharp cheese?

    I want to cuddle your cats.

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  2. I interviewed Jim a few months ago. He prefers "scrumpy" due to the wild yeast fermentation and the lack of filtering. The saskatoon berry is a pome fruit--so it's related to the apple--but it's in the Amelanchier family of shrubs and small trees. Jim buys huge drums of saskatoon berry extract from Canada to create Northern Neighbour. The JK ciders compare favorably to keeved French ciders...the sweetness is the result of arrested fermentation, not from added sugar or other sweeteners. I highly recommend them to drinkers new to cider.

    Keep the reviews coming!

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    1. Wow! What great additional info. Thank you so so much for sharing it. That really adds to my appreciation of this cider.

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    3. Being fromthe Canadian prairies, I am intimately familiar with Saskatoons. Similar to blueberries in appearance but quite purple and with a distinctly different flavor. They are very rich in antioxidants vitamins & minerals. I can't imagine what this cider would be like but can't wait to try it. - Ken Moren

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    4. Being fromthe Canadian prairies, I am intimately familiar with Saskatoons. Similar to blueberries in appearance but quite purple and with a distinctly different flavor. They are very rich in antioxidants vitamins & minerals. I can't imagine what this cider would be like but can't wait to try it. - Ken Moren

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  3. Loving your notes - you inspire my inner bootlegger.

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    1. Thank you so much! If you feel like trying to make a cider, I'm sure you could do it. Your biggest challege would be access to unpasteurized juice.

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  4. I actually really liked this one...reminded me of unfiltered apple juice, except without the apple pie type spices that most ciders seem to have when they are of this type (which I don't like). Agreed its quite sweet. I've never tried a cider float...thanks for the idea!

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  5. Their ciders are super super sweet, but the fact that they are unsulfited makes them quite an interesting alternative to most of the other ciders we find in Michigan. I liked the vinegary taste of this one.

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