Monday, June 5, 2023

Cider Review: Berkshire Cider Project's Hancock Shaker Village

I’ve just returned from another cider competition. This past weekend, I judged for The Eastern States Exposition (usually just called The Big E), and it was a well-run competition with the added benefit of getting to meet online cider friends in-person for the first time ever. What a treat!

That brought Massachusetts ciders to the forefront of my mind, so I did a little digging in my cellar and found Berkshire Cider Project's Hancock Shaker Village. I picked this up last summer when visiting the cidery’s Greylock Works tasting room in North Adams, Massachusetts.  

Here’s how Berkshire Cider Project describes what they do.

All of our ciders are dry and sparkling.  

Natural ciders may remind you of white wine or even champagne. Enjoy at home, bring to a dinner party or as a special gift, made right here in the Berkshires.

Each fall we receive fresh-pressed juice from local orchards and ferment slowly during the cold Berkshire winter. We age these base ciders in French wine barrels or neutral tanks for 6-12 months, before blending and bottling.

We’re obsessed with traditional cider apples. These often forgotten varieties are like grapes to wine, with distinct levels of acid, aromatics and tannins. We source from local orchards, forage wild fruit and  even import juice from the UK to supplement what we can’t find locally (yet!).

Each harvest is different so each cider will be different. But you can be sure that each one was crafted with care, right here in the Berkshires.

I have one previous entry about Berkshire Cider Project, but it’s a roundup of several of the ciders: Bittersweet, Windy Hill, Hancock Shaker Village (2020), and Dry.


Visit the Berkshire Cider Project online:


Hand-picked heirloom apples.

A rich blend of heirloom and wild apples from the historic Shaker orchard. Our 2020 bottling captures the bright aromatics of a warm fall and chalky palate of late-harvest russets. Fermented slowly and simply with wild yeast.

Tasting notes: Wildflowers, Oyster Shell and Green Apple.

500ml, 6.9% alc/vol

65 cases produced

I quite liked the Shaker Village that I tasted last year, so I was curious about this one. 

Appearance: brilliant, sunny, bubbly

Bright! I love how radiantly sunny the golden tone is. The cider is beautifully brilliant and bubbly as well. 

Aromas: Leather, overripe apple, honeydew melon, grain and cast iron

The Hancock Shaker Village smells most immediately of leather and overripe apples. I can also detect notes that remind me of honeydew melon, grain and my cast iron skillet.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

Without any doubt, this cider is exuberantly dry!

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, chalky, prickly bubbles, overripe apples

I love that the tannins in this cider speak first. The Hancock Shaker Village starts with an initial hit of bitterness that smooths out into gentle fruitiness. I get notes of overripe apple like I noticed in the cider’s aromas. The tannins take back over by the finish with elements that remind me of oyster shells in that they are chalky and minerally.

The mouthfeel is austere and structured with prickly small bubbles. The acidity is present and taut but not a prominent part of the tasting experience. 

I enjoyed the Hancock Shaker Village tremendously with an ultra-simple meal of summer squash, blackened fish, and brown rice. It’s funky but not flawed. What an elegant and restrained cider!