Sunday, February 20, 2022

Cider Review: New York Cider Co.'s The Naturist

I’m shocked that it's taken me this long to review anything by New York Cider Co. My apologies, friends. New York Cider Company is a relatively new cidery based in Tompkins County, New York. This is my home turf, so I’ve been remiss here. I’ve tried a few by New York Cider Company, and I’ve found them consistently refreshing and interesting. 

Here’s how the cidery folks describe their approach to cider making. I’ll let their words speak for themselves.

Yet, we, at New York Cider Company, appreciate the simplicity of traditional cider craft. We believe that much of the art of cider making involves helping nature, the best artist, do the work itself. Often this means staying out of the way: Our apple trees, some more than 150 years old, are nurtured by little more than sun, rain, and maybe a sprinkle of compost. Our apples—whether we grow them ourselves, forage them from wild or abandoned trees we rescued near our farm in the New York Finger Lakes—are always interesting and picked at peak ripeness.

Similarly, our ciders are fermented naturally, without added yeast, whenever possible. “Wild” fermentations can be riskier; you never know how the natural yeasts will affect the final taste of a hard cider. To us, the rewards of wild fermentation are a worthwhile gamble. Each carboy, barrel, tank, or vat of cider truly takes on a life—and flavors—of its own. Yeast is alive, after all; each strain has a different personality. Each hard cider is a separate conversation. 

Blending is also key—and where the human touch can augment nature’s. We find that the sum is usually greater than the parts. Figuring out the tastiest combinations of separate fermentations, creating a beautiful, unified, refreshing drink, is fascinating and rewarding. It can be an art.

New York Cider Company’s artisanal approach extends to the way we bottle most of our ciders. Again, we like to let nature do the job—through bottle conditioning.  The sediment that remains at the bottom of the bottle is a testament to our artisanal approach.

You can visit New York Cider Co online here:

If you’re in the Ithaca area, you can try New York Cider Company ciders at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. That’s a wonderful way to get to know these very local, usually wild ciders. 

The Naturist was shared with me by Brian of Empire Haven who supplied the New York Cider Co. folks with these apples. He serves as director of an annual event Sentient Fest held at Empire Haven and is a seasonal family camper there.  Many thanks, Brian!

Here’s the official description for The Naturist.


Did you hear the one about the nudist and the cider maker? Neither had we. So, when a customer walked up to us at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market a few years ago and said we should check out the old apple trees at his nudist colony, we weren’t quick to respond. Then, in 2020, our own trees bore scant fruit, and we scurried. Thanks to the kind folk at Empire Haven Nudist Park in Moravia, NY, located on the remnants of a large pre-Prohibition seedling cider orchard, this story gets even better: We now introduce NATURIST, a bracingly tart, full-bodied blend of the distinctive apples we gathered there, plus two early American cultivars, Golden Russet and Rhode Island Greening. Celebrate freedom! Enjoy cool.

Alcohol 8.20%


Appearance: medium color intensity, warm straw, hazy

The cider has a gently pearly haze. The color is a classic warm straw color with medium intensity. 

Aromas: leather, overripe apples, green grapes, citrus and minerals

I'm charmed because The Naturist has so many delightful aromas! The Naturist smells like soft worn-in leather, overripe apple, green grape, citrus and minerals. Something about it is both salty and funky. 

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Naturist is an unapologetically dry cider. I appreciate how much is going on without any sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: hay, lime, bitter, high acid, bubbly

This cider has many scents, and its flavors are just as varied and enveloping. It tastes grassy; the cider reminds me of hay and green tea. The Naturist brings high acid with notes of lemon and lime. The whole cider is somehow both funky and fresh: dewy and bitter. The cider is alive with prickly bubbles and blocky tannins.

The Naturist is wonderfully bold; it takes the sipper on an experience. I appreciate that after the big adventures of flavor and texture, the cider ends cleanly with a pleasant aftertaste. Overall, it’s a wild interplay of austerity and citrus. I enjoyed it very much with a dinner of homemade fisher’s pie. The custardy base was rich enough to benefit from the cider’s high acidity. I’m glad it was a salty, creamy, rich dish and a zesty cutting cider. Not many pairings go better together.