Thursday, December 27, 2018

My Favourite 10 Ciders of 2018

As I’m about to close the books on 2018, I’m startled to realize that this is my 6th year collecting my top 10 favorite ciders of the year! Wow! There is something different this year though; I reviewed almost twice as many ciders. I had some encouragement to switch from top 10 to top 20, but I think the cider world is ready for more competition. ; ) I reviewed more than 95 ciders this year!

But that’s not all that happened! I’m so happy to say that I continued learning and teaching about cider, giving talks, consulting, and I wrote more about cider for venues beyond the blog than ever before. 

Just in case folks want to take a peek at last year’s and those that came before. 

2017 List:

2016 List:

2015 List:

2014 List:

2013 List:

And I'll quote my own rules. “As in earlier years, I have two rules: I'm not listing more than one cider from any company, and I am going to limit myself to ciders that have coverage in the blog. Beyond that, my only caveat is that these are my personal favorites that I wrote about in 201[8]. These may or may not be your favorites, but I encourage you to taste them and make up your own mind.”

With no further addendum or caveats, let me show you what ciders I loved most this year!

10. Australia Peckham’s Wild all the Way

I tried this intriguing blend of wild fermented cider and perry at CiderCon, and I managed to sneak a can back home with me to enjoy months later. I was surprised by the awesome tartness of this cider. Many international ciders do not have the same focus on acidity that American ciders do, but I loved this one. It had great mellow fruitiness and some tannic heft too!

9. Tieton Ciderworks Sparkling Perry

When visiting friends after GLINTCAP, I got the chance to share a very special perry. I wanted to treat them to Tieton’s Sparkling Perry because I knew it would have some sweetness, some bubble, and tons of fruit character. These were all perfect as accompaniment to two vegetarian curries; and this cider wowed everyone! We loved the bright acidity and nuttiness.

8. Number 12 Cider House: Chestnut Semi-Dry

Number 12 Cider House just opened their Minnesota taproom this year, and they continued to put out totally delightful ciders including this rich and fruity semi-dry cider filled with buzzy zestiness. The barrel characteristics took this cider from tasty to really special!

7.  Descendant Cider Company: English Kills

This cider is described as and English Bittersweet Dry, all magical words to my ears. This cider delivers on lush aromas but keeps the taste cleanly austere. It tasted more savory than fruity but kept some tannic wow factor and a light enough body to be perfect with summer barbeque and corn on the cob. It was a delight.

6. Angry Orchard Cider's Understood in Motion 3

This collaboration cider between Ryan Burk and Tom Oliver has so many of my favorite characteristics. I knew it would take a place in this list the moment I first caught of a whiff of those mouthwatering leather and cooked apple aromas. The taste didn’t disappoint either. I like my tannic ciders to maintain balance with acidity and the Understood in Motion 3 really managed that beautifully. Yum!

5. Snowdrift Cornice:

Washington state’s Snowdrift Cider Co. put out a supremely wintery cider in the Cornice. It has body from barrel aging and enough tannins to really feel substantial in mouthfeel. I loved the acidity and plumminess. This cider was one to savor.

4. Whitewood Cider Company’s Kingston Black and Wickson Apple

This cider was part of a very special birthday dinner my friend Elizabeth prepared. I chose this cider for the pesto and homemade pasta course, because the cider was going to offer up more herbal notes (to pair with pesto) due to some time spent aging in a gin barrel. The pairing worked splendidly, and everyone noticed this cider in particular. It was just so aromatic and botanical and delicious!

3. Big Fish Highland Scrumpy

This is another treat, I got to take home from CiderCon 2018; it’s a big blend of apples shared for a local community event. The final result is mellow, fruity, balanced and beautifully semi-dry. I especially enjoyed the burst of grapefruit: bitterness tempered with citrus fruit notes.

2. Eve’s Darling Creek:

This was my Thanksgiving cider this year. I’ve had the Darling Creek for years, but this particular vintage came out drier and more balanced than any previous. I just love how the aromas reminds me of autumnal apples and oak.This cider is funky, tart, substantive, and super bubbly. I absolutely adored it.

1. Castle Hill Cider's Levity

This is just a fantastic cider. In a list this good, that almost feels like an understatement. The cider has body but lightness, structure and playfulness, balance and sophistication.I simply adore the richness and baking spice notes that manage to do so much in a completely dry cider. The Levity is bone-dry, beautiful, and bubbly. The apple varieties and use of terra cotta fermentation vessels combine to create a truly magical cider.

Let’s end this list with what I feel most: gratitude for cider people and the wonderful experiences we’ve had together this year. I appreciate the orchardists, restaurant folk, cider makers and cider geeks of all stripes. I raise my cider glass to all of us, loving, learning, and promoting our favorite beverage. Here's to even more of the good stuff in 2019! Cheers!