It’s almost here. We are lucky enough to have the chance to make 2022 a wonderful magical year. As we dream of what we’d like to do, change, and create in the future, it only makes sense to gather the best parts of 2021 (strange year though it was) and reflect on them. Part of that for me means continuing my tradition of counting down my favorite ciders of the year. It wasn’t easy to choose, but I’m so happy to share my top five!
But if you’ve not read about my favorites 6-10, check those out first: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/12/5-of-my-favorite-10-ciders-of-2021.html
5. Snow Capped Cider Harrison Reserve
I’m not surprised that a GLINTCAP best in class gold medal winner will also be a favorite of mine. The Harrison Reserve won Heritage Cider sweet, and while sweet isn’t a quality I look out for in cider, I’m not going to turn away a delicious and well-balanced cider because of a bit of sweetness. The Harrison has acidity, body, and wonderful fruit notes like overripe apples, peaches, and cherries.
4. Eden Cider Oliver’s Twist
Eden makes undeniably good ciders year after year. I chose this tannic and acidic cider to go with Thanksgiving foods, and it was absolutely perfect to lift up rich intense flavors. Oliver’s Twist is very lemony, mildly funky but not dirty, and wonderfully wild. This Vermont cider has everything from savory herbs to a surprising tropical fruit finish. And the bubbles are perfect!
3. Haykin Family Cider’s Reserve Niedzwetzkyana
Colorado's Haykin Family Cider makes some wonderful ciders, so I had high hopes for the Reserve Niedzwetzkyana, but I didn’t have a lot of specificity to those expectations. A 100% single-varietal cider can go in nearly infinite directions, and I’m not familiar enough with Malus Niedzwetzkyana to hazard any guesses. The cider is a blast of floral flavors with tart cherry notes and high acidity. My initial review called it “everything forward,” and I love its dryness. This very special cider made a big impression!
2. Presque Isle Cider’s Farmhouse Hard Cider 2020
This bottle was a gift from someone at Presque Isle farms promised before results were announced but shared after we learned that it won second place for Dry Traditional Cider. That’s a competitive category as well as one most likely to award ciders I’ll love. And GLINTCAP predicted my preferences again; I love Presque Isle’s Farmhouse Cider from northern Michigan. The aromas of this cider are beguiling with notes of leather, overripe apples, and dried orange. It’s beautifully balanced, dry, and full-bodied. Seriously good stuff.
1. Black Diamond Farm and Redbyrd Orchard Cider's Black is Gold
Black Diamond Cider: https://www.blackdiamondcider.com/
Redbyrd Orchard Cider: https://redbyrdorchardcider.com/
When two excellent Finger Lakes cider makers like Redbyrd Orchard Cider and Black Diamond Farm work together, I suspect the results will be stunning and with Black is Gold, they are. Here’s the apple list: Goldrush, Tremlett’s Bitter, Wickson Crab, Harrison, Dabinett, Roxbury Russet, Black Oxford, Suncrisp, Razor Russet. This collaboration absolutely delights me with tart clean citrus, ferocious bubbles, sturdy tannins, and plentiful fruit notes that keep the experience fun and lively.
I appreciate that this collaboration came to be for a reason. Here's how they describe it, “What can we, as beverage makers and farmers, do to support the vital work of abolishing barriers to racial and social equity and justice in our community?” The cider's proceeds support OAR of Tompkins County and The Food Justice Project. Awesome.
What a list! These are each exceptional ciders that I’m grateful to have tasted. My year was much tastier and more fun because of the cider and cider experiences I was lucky enough to have. Endless thanks to my cider friends, orchard growers, competition volunteers, cider makers, and every apple lover out there. Let’s hope for more fun and safe times together in 2022!