Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cider Review Winter Storm Stella Edition: Vermont Cider Co.'s Wassail

I thought spring was tiptoeing in last week, but Winter Storm Stella has certainly shifted my expectations! As I write, the storm is continuing to blow all around my house and all around the northeast region, and I am starting to hear comparisons to the Blizzard of '93. So, I thought it the perfect time to continue last week's trend and pick out another spiced cider to try. 

And in the name of transparency, I did receive this bottle of Vermont Cider Co.'s Wassail. for free. It arrived in November, so I'm glad to be getting to enjoy it on a perfect night for a warming spiced cider. My opinions are un-swayed by samples, but I do appreciate them. This one didn't even get to jump to the front of the review line, but I'm feeling all the more ready for it.

This is my second review of something by Vermont Cider Co. My first is their Addison, which I tried back in November. You can find that review here: 


For now, since http://vermontciderco.com/ is a landing page that's still in development, you can see tons of lovely photos and get information from Vermont Cider Co.'s Facebook page.


I do have a description of the Wassail from the press release that came with my ciders, 
Wassail is inspired by the age-old tradition of celebrating with the orchards to ensure a good crop. Wassail begins with small batch hard cider infused with traditional mulling spices, including vanilla bean, ginger and cinnamon. The cider is then aged in rum barrels to produce a unique, rich cider that is ideal for the holidays. Like Addison, Wassail is made only from 100 percent fresh pressed Vermont and Northeastern apples. 6.9%ABV.
If any readers are unfamiliar with the term wassail, it is both the name of a beverage and an activity. The drink is a warm spiced cider and the activity is the ceremonial spilling and pouring of said beverage onto the roots of orchard trees in winter amidst caroling and asking for blessings on the trees. Its a wonderfully archaic and pagan way to to carouse on a winter's night. Just not on a blizzard night like tonight.

Appearance: bronze orange, brilliant, lots of visible bubbles

This cider looks amazingly dark and rich in my glass. The color is a harvest-y orange with tones of red and bronze. The photo shows how many bubbles observable once its been poured.

Aromas: bourbon vanilla, apple, cinammon, ginger

The cider smells boozy and desserty at once: a bit like real bourbon vanilla plus cinnamon. There's also plenty of apple notes going on, but they are like roasted apples dusted with powdered ginger. This is a complex set of aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet, but only just

Yes, I'll call this cider sweet, but its closer to a semi sweet than many other mulled ciders or many others sold in this format. The 12oz bottle tends to have more sweet offerings than some other sizes.

Flavors and drinking experience: ginger, vanilla, petillant, medium acidity, balanced

I am surprised that the Wassail is only mildly sparkling, perhaps to better connote the mulled-cider experience. This cider sings with ginger and cinnamon notes as well as vanilla velvety-ness. Its not bitter but also not fake tasting; all of the flavors offer great balance with only medium acidity.

Something about this cider reminds me of a cider version of a dark and stormy, perhaps the mild sparkle, rum caramel notes, plus the forefront of gingery notes. In any case, I'm into it. The Wassail is a very very pleasant cider. I'd rather have it than most Dark and Stormys or most  available mulled ciders, so two genuine compliments. I could be predisposed to like because I like many of the notes it offers in general. I'm a fiend for both ginger and vanilla, so it doesn't surprise me that I like them in the Wassail.

How to pair this cider? With warm blankets, good company, and Jeopardy. Its perfect. The blizzard is optional.