Monday, February 9, 2015

Cider Review Roundup: Virtue, Slyboro, William, Aspall's, Kettleborough, and Bad Seed

Whew! Back from Cider Con in Chicago (posts coming soon) and covered in yet more snow! Winter is very...real outside of Florida. But it is beautiful and snow days give me unexpected chances to write, so I'll take advantage while I can.  Today I've continued the process of going through my computer, phone, email, etc. to find sets of abandoned cider notes and photos. Since these reviews are varyingly complete or incomplete I though I might share a whole batch of them together.
Please consider most of these pictures representative of the appearance and style of the ciders in this post; I'm doing my best to match things up but these are found notes and found pictures from various moments in 2013 and 2014.

Virtue Cider's The Ledbury

This is how Virtue describes this particular cider, "The Ledbury Cider is an English-style medium cider crafted by Virtue with Tom Oliver. It's not too dry, not too sweet. A blend of old world bittersweet apples and new world heirloom varieties are fermented with native yeast, adding a bit of farminess to the ripe apple nose."

In appearance, this cider is relatively light and just a bit cloudy. It tastes bright and peppery with an almost spicey aftertaste, high tannin high acid, medium level of bubbles; not a lot of body, but would go well with swordfish. Smells like honey. At first, sweet melon, but not too gentle. Interesting and dynamic.

Slyboro's Night Pasture

On the Slyboro website, this is what I could find about their Night Pasture: "Subtly complex, dry, with hints of spice and caramel, made from Golden Delicious, English Bittersweet varieties and Northern Spy apples. Named after our oldest orchard, where earlier farmers once turned out their livestock at the end of the workday. Now a favorite spot for painters, dancers, apple pickers, skiers and red foxes. Serve chilled. 8% alc/vol 0% residual sugar. 750ml"

In appearnce this is very bright and clear; it looks still. While big gulps can allow me to detect a little fizz, this cider basically still as it appears. The Night Pasture tastes lightly but decidedly oaked, not a long finish, super clean. Bright and uplifting but very little acid with medium tannins. It tastes more minerally and stony ot me or like very green underripe grapes. Somehow the whole flavor is green.

William Premium Cider

This cider has a notably low ABV of 5.2%. It is made in Quebec and sold in cans. The brief official description says this about the William Cider, "pale straw colour; delicate green apple aroma; off-dry, soft spritz with balanced acidity."

I enjoyed the nice burst of bubbles on pouring. Smells like sweetened apple chips. Tastes like a drier caramel apple. Very fruity, semi-sweet, drinkable, easy, and pleasant with tiny note of bitterness like hops or something beery. I tastes it as lemon but two of my companions definitely interpreted this note as more reminiscent of light lager. It tastes like approachable English pub ciders in the best way. This cider doesn't take itself too seriously and is all the better for it. 

Aspall Grand Cru

I could not find very much information on this cider aside from the fact that the apples used are organic and the ABV is 6.8%.

Lots of funky notes in the aroma make this cider stand out. The taste is similarly sharp, barnyardy, and tannic. I cant taste wood, sweetness and complexity with some phenolic notes that at first tasted just lovely and astringent to me. But once one of my fellow tasters suggested that they reminded him of olive juice, I couldn't get that thought out of my mind. Yes, the tannins and vegetal notes plus sweetness somehow come across like olive juice. Still a great cider though.

Kettleborough Cider House

"Our flagship cider.  Dry Cider is a departure from sweeter run-of-the-mill hard ciders that have always dominated the market. Our Dry Cider is made from a blend of Northern Spy and Granny Smith apples to create a balanced acidity and fresh green apple flavor.  Think 'Dry Apple Prosecco.'  It pairs well with many foods, especially white meats, cheeses, fruits and especially any spice-forward dishes."

Tim Dressel makes this cider in the Hudson Valley of New York. The appearance of this cider surprises me because it looks nearly white in color. The cider smells wonderfully like Northern Spy apples. Cider is very acidic, a little meek but bright. The apple smell seems to presage more than the flavor actually delivers. I get quickly dissolving tannins that give it minerality. One note stands out agressively with lime and tropical fruit.

Bad Seed Dry Cider

Here is how Bad Seed rather cheekily introduces their Dry Cider, "Each bottle of Bad Seed Dry Cider is hand crafted in small batches never filtered, bottle conditioned and made from apples grown in the Hudson Valley. A Dry Cider that's really dry. Yeah that's right buttercup this isn't your little sister's sweet cider. What's more, each cider has been carefully tasted, tested, and then tasted again by our cidery team. Lucky bastards!" 

I got a big honey smell that goes positively florid after repeated sniffs. In appearance it looks hazy and light yellow. The Dry smells much sweeter than it tastes. The cider is high tannin with medium aid. It tastes just a little chemically but more than that I taste dry papery pineapple. The mouthfeel has medium astringence and a light body.