Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cider Review: Millstone Cellars Gingeroot

First, a note, please forgive the picture heaviness of this post. Several pictures turned out, and I am enough of a photo person that I cannot narrow it down to the usual two pics.

Millstone Cellars works from the refurbished Monkton Mill in Monkton, Maryland. It is primarily a father son business that has been making cider and mead for more than ten years. They say this about their own processes: "Recreating early America’s libation of choice, our cider is crafted from pressed heirloom cider apples, oak barrel fermented, and aged. Once barreled, we let the ciders chill out as they undergo a long cool fermentation, slowly develop the ciders character and complexity. Each apple varietal is fermented to dryness and aged for 5-12 months before we hand select barrels to blend into our finished cider." They also mention bottle conditioning as the final step in the cider process. You can see some gorgeous pictures and read more about their business on their website:

Today, I'm reviewing their Gingeroot. Their official description explains it as, "Cider warmed during the winter months in the barrel with organic baby ginger and infused with raw blueberry honey. A spicy aromatic cider unthawed for the coming of spring." They do list their ingredients in a completely appealing and open way. The back label lists and pictures Summer Rambo and McIntosh as the apples that go into this cider along with organic baby ginger and raw blueberry honey. With all of these various flavors coming together, I anticipate a complex beverage. Final few facts: ABV 8.0%, Residual Sugar 2.5%, Sweetness Semi-Sweet. I'm curious about what I'll be tasting.

Appearance: pale yellow gold and bubbly

The Gingeroot pours fizzily. The beverage quickly forms a very big bubbled mousse with loads of excitement. The head dissipates quickly. Either in the bottle or the glass, this cider has brilliant clarity and very pale yellow gold color.

Aromas: ginger, pear wood, spice

The first thing that I have to share to properly communicate the experience is that this beverage is significantly more aromatic than most ciders. It is beautifully strong smelling, even when fairly cold. The aromas aren't appley though; Alex gets concord grape, but I smell ginger primarily. Beyond the ginger, I could smell pear, wood, and spice. Very exciting.

Flavors: apple, ginger, and spice

I can taste the apple much more than I could smell it, but the ginger comes across just as clearly. The two meld well with a spicy almost punchy taste. Very invigorating. I enjoyed how much the Gingeroot manages to be a zesty and yet fruity cider.

Drinking experience: intense, powerful, a bit slow

This cider is high in tannins, similarly high in acid, and off dry. The honey really is pleasing as a separate but balancing note. The level of carbonation also gives this an aura of champagne. For me, this tastes very much like what would happen if someone clever shaved fresh ginger into a glass of dry champagne.

I chose this cider specifically go with a meal. My darling Alex made zucchini and summer squash cold noodle salad with tofu and peanut teriyaki sauce. Delish. The cider worked with it as I hoped it would. The balance of powerful cider and chilled peanut sauce were especially complementary. I recommend this confidently as an accompaniment to Asian food. In terms of activities, where I live it is still too hot to do very much besides survive. Therefore, I'd recommend the Gingeroot for a calm slow afternoon or evening, reading a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This cider can stand up to any chilling tale.

For those interested in reading more, a local paper did a nice write up of the cider here: "Gingerroot to Ciderberry: Making Mead, Cider in Monkton"