Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Cider Review: Right Bee Cider Clementine Barrel Aged Series

I hear from my mom that daffodils are striving several inches from the ground in her yard in Kentucky. I witnessed some upstate daffodils just barely poking their heads above the soil; that was on the one day we had bare ground between different blankets of snow. Surely this means that Spring will arrive, perhaps even before too terribly long. But for right now, I’m grateful for the warmth of friends and loved ones. 

This past week, the cider community launched #OpenThatCiderBottle across a few social media platforms, directing all of us to take the time to look at the cider we have and choose something special. We then opened our ciders and shared the stories of what makes the bottles meaningful or exciting. I’m all about using and enjoying the good things we have. I shared Right Bee Cider’s Clementine from the Barrel-Aged Series, because it was a surprise gift from my cider friend Matt. 

Matt not only shared a lovely cider with me, but he helped me out with some supplies I needed for an art project that is still in process. As soon as I put out the call for help, he answered and got me not only what I needed but this cider too. I feel touched by his perceptive generosity! And what an intriguing cider; I’ve never gotten to review anything by Right Bee Cider before. 

Right Bee Cider is based in Chicago by Katie Morgan and Charlie Davis in 2014. Here’s how they describe themselves as cider producers, “We are passionate about the art of cider-making, made by hand with natural ingredients and sustainable practices. Our cider brought us together, and we hope it continues to bring others together as well.”

I’m so excited to share my thoughts on the limited-release Clementine (Barrel Aged Series).

You can visit the cidery website here: https://www.rightbeecider.com/

I don’t have a lot of info about the cider, but it is “Aged in Thornton Distilling Dead Drop Bourbon Barrels.” The ABV is 6%. 

Appearance: intense warm copper, brilliant, fine bubbles

Oh, this color is amazing. I’ve never seen a cider with such a deep warm copper hue. It’s brilliant with fine visible bubbles.

Aromas: cherries, apricots, butterscotch, old paper

The Clementine has aroma notes of old paper, cherries, and apricots.  I also smell minerals, water, and intense butterscotch. There’s a rich apple concentration that reminds me of fruit on the equipment after it has been pressed; juices that have dried and intensified. I get notes of barrel and dust as well.

Dryness/sweetness: Off-dry

I find it a little challenging to determine sweetness level in barrel aged ciders. I’m perceiving a more complex set of qualities that all affect one another. This cider has a lot going on in multiple dimensions, but it’s not notably sweet. At the same time, it’s also not bone-dry, so I’ll call it off-dry and acknowledge the imprecision!  

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity acid, buzzy, gently bitter

The first impression I get is that this cider is in some ways like an oaked Chardonnay. The Clementine tastes refreshing, acidic and not too tannic. The cider rises with a little wave of gentle bitterness a second or two after the initial taste. I find the texture petillant, with a silky body. I appreciate the wonderful interactions between bright fruity acid and the dark barrel notes. The whole experience is full and complex with a long dark pleasant finish.

I had my co-tasters investigate for diacetyl acid, because I’m not particularly sensitive to it, but they assure me that the buttery-ness is barrel-y not popcorny or oily.

Though the barrel characteristics are emphatic, they do not unbalance the drinking experience. Another wine reminder arrived in the buzzy sense of alcohol, but this remains absolutely clearly a cider, just one with a few wine-like characteristics.

I enjoyed the Clementine with wonderful companionship and a funky tasty cheese. Yet again, I must say that I am thankful for friends, family, loved ones. A special bottle shared with special people made for a very warm and cozy night.