Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Cider Review: Silo Cider's Semi-Dry and Embark Ciderworks' The Northerner

I’m so excited to be headed down to Pennsylvania to judge the cider competition that’s part of the Farm Show there. While that experience is not open to the public, you can go to Harrisburg in January to find out the results and check out a dizzying array of other awesome stuff. 

The details are all here:

And that’s not all that’s exciting. Two adorable little kitten fluffballs got adopted into the family week. Obviously this means I’ve been hanging out at home trying to keep them from jumping off of high furniture or provoking the big cats too much. This also means I finally allowed myself to drink and review my Silo Semi-Dry cider because I needed something trustworthy for relaxing with.

Here’s some info on Silo and the Semi Dry. This is my first review of anything By Silo Cidery which is a new branch forming from Silo Distillery in Windsor, Vermont. I know the cider maker Nicole Leibon from her years at Farnum Hill and from the tiny wonderful world of cider. She’s a delight, and I always look forward to seeing her. 

Visit the Distillery and learn about the spirits and cider on the website:

The site includes lots of helpful information about the Semi-Dry cider. 
On the drier end of "semi-dry", this is the antithesis of sugary sweet.  Bright and tart apple flavors are balanced in this summer drink that will have you tempted by one more. 
Our flagship cider grown on North Pomfret apple trees--- each one lovingly pruned, picked, and pressed at Moore's Orchard. 
Nose: Lemon zest, green apples 
Flavors: Clean and tart  
Finish: Just one more 
INGREDIENTSNorthern Spy, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Fuji, and Mac

Appearance: bright corn gold, brilliant

The color of this cider reminds me of ripe yellow corn. It’s a pure bright gold. The cider has no haze to it, and doesn’t show much in the way of visible bubbles.

Aromas: paper dust, asian pear and butter cream

Ooh. These smells are tantalizing and interesting. I’m surprised to smell paper dust, asian pear and butter cream all together. Each of those smells is so different and associated with a completely different spectrum of flavors.  

Sweetness: semi dry

I’ll say yes to calling this cider semi-dry but some would call it off dry. I think Silo is right to say that it lives at the dry end of semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: dried apples, medium body, wild rice, nutty

This cider does exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted something enjoyable, relaxing, and low key to enjoy while I watch kittens. The kittens bring the excitement, so I wanted a cider that’s mellow enough to balance that out.

Silo’s Semi-dry is redolent with notes of dried apple, wild rice, and savory cooking herbs. There’s something almost savory even nutty in the flavors. The Semi-dry feels low in the mouth and aquatic to me.

More factually, the cider has a nicely medium-full body with pleasantly forward bubbles. This is a very approachable cider. I like and drink it, and I think I could give it to many people without a lot of cider experience and they would also enjoy it. 

Now for Embark Ciderworks’ The Northerner.

Embark feels like a neighboring cidery to me, even though they are just under 2 hours away. This Williamson, New York cidery is based in an orchard heavy area on the outskirts of Rochester. The cidery developed from a pre-existing apple farm, one of many in the vicinity. Jake Lagoner and Chris Gowan make the cider. You can check out my earlier coverage of Embark ciders to read more background on this near and dear cidery.

I have a few previous reviews for Embark. Here’s the list:

Golden Russet Reserve:

Crab Series #1:

The American Hopped:

You can visit Embark Ciderworks on the web and discover more about Embark Ciderworks, the tasting room and events:

Here’s how Embark describes The Northerner: 
The Northerner is a refreshing semisweet cider made of 100% Northern Spy apples. We derived our inspiration for the label artwork from the following history of the naming of the apple. 
One of the most famous of all American apples, Northern Spy originated in East Bloomfield, NY, around 1800. The apple was named for the 'hero' of that notorious dime store novel The Northern Spy. The book was written anonymously, published sub-rosa, and circulated among radical hard-core abolitionists circa 1830. The "Northern Spy" set up a series of safehouses from Virginia through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York State for runaway slaves to escape to Canada. It was a blueprint for the underground railroad. 5% ABV
I tasted this as part of Finger Lakes Cider week at The Watershed. I was hosting a co-tasting with anyone who wanted to come in and try some local ciders. 

Appearance: butternut squash, brilliant, few visible bubbles

The color is a far warmer than the gold, yellow, or amber color of many ciders. It goes so far as to remind me of the ripe flesh of a roasted butternut squash. My cider poured clear with absolutely brilliant color and no visible bubbles. 

Aromas: raspberry, ripe apple, baking spices

This cider reminds me of a warm kitchen in terms of it’s aromas. There’s plenty of fruitiness that reminds me of ripe apples and raspberries, but I can also smell baking spices and brown sugar. 

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

Some would call The Northerner sweet, others would call it semi-sweet. I care more that it’s in balance because there’s acidity as well as sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: full mouthfeel, creamy, sweet, fruity

This cider has a leisurely lingering finish. I know that might ought to appear last if I’m describing this cider chronologically, but it stands out. This is a well-balanced and full bodied cider with lots of fruit and oomph that last until the very end. I am not usually a big drinker of sweet ciders, but everyone in our group found things they really liked about this one. 

Some folks loved the subtle baking spice notes. It’s not enough to quite remind one of baking an apple pie or mulling hot cider, but there’s a sense of warmth and depth there. Other folks like the hints of berry that were presence in both the aromas and flavors. For me, I like it when a sweet cider can counter-balance its sweetness with a zingy but not punishing acidity and be full bodied but firm rather than droopy. The Northerner managed all of that with ease and aplomb. It was a fun cider and a crowd pleaser!