Friday, December 13, 2013

Cider Review: Thistly Cross Whisky Cask

Thistly Cross Cider crossed my path through my favorite local cider shop, but I'd been hearing about them for some time before. This is definitely my first Scottish cider. Check out their website that has tons of great information here:

I decided to review their Whisky-Cask Aged Cider before any of their other ciders because of it's category. The barrel aged ciders show such variety. Some of them I quite enjoy, but others don't taste very balanced and instead come across as overpowering in either aroma or flavor. I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about exactly what role the whisky cask plays in this cider. Here's what Thistly Cross says about this particular cider, "Matured in ex-Glengassaugh whisky casks this is a dry & subtle cider. Infused with mellow, vanilla oak of the cask. A refreshing, complex drink to be savoured." In keeping with many United States craft ciders, they keep their ABV right under 7% at that frequently utilized 6.9% that is unless you trust the other part of Thistly Cross' website that lists the cider at an ABV of 4%. Other tidbits I gleaned from the website is that the aging process takes about six months and it aims to balance the overtones of whisky with cider's fruit and lightness. This sounds like a tall order to me. The one thing I didn't notice was much mention of either apple varieties or wood notes from the barrel. I'm curious to find out how it tastes.

Appearance: Brilliant,  deep maize color

I could see lots of still bubbles on the bottom of my glass through the complete brilliance of the cider. No haze here. It also appears as a deep maize color. Definitely more rich and saturated in color than many ciders. 

Aromas: overripe apples, yeast, vinous

I could smell fruit first, specifically yummy warm overripe apples. Next, I noted yeast and some booziness. Hints of wine ghost across my palate. At the tail end of the aromas, I could detect some astringency. The Whisky-Cask Cider does not present too much whisky in the aromas.

Sweetness: Quite Sweet

This is obviously and immediately sweet. I'm not at all sure why Thistly Cross' promotional copy lists it as medium dry. There is nothing wrong with making a sweet cider and it helps the sweetness fans find it when it is described as sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: mildly sparkling, plenty of boozy flavors, odd finish

I think the relatively low level of fizz is a good thing for the Whisky Cask. It has a lot going on between the sweetness and the intensity of boozy barrel flavors; it doesn't need to add aggressive bubbles to the list. What I could not smell very much in terms of whisky notes I can certainly taste. The whisky flavors and sweetness cannot be separated; it is an intense and sweet boozy experience. In a bigger gulp the Whisky-Cask has more flavors but still not much in the way of nuance. It's finish lingers and is a bit weird; to be completely honest it veers towards the acidic and chemical.

Overall, Thistly Cross's Whisky Cask is a big sweet cider. It seems best enjoyed at trivia with fried foods like cheese sticks and fries. Combine some crunch and salt with all of the flavors in this cider, and you'll bring out the best in it.
Our Whisky-Cask Aged Cider
Matured in ex-Glengassaugh whisky casks this is a dry & subtle cider.
Infused with mellow, vanilla oak of the cask.
A refreshing, complex drink to be savoured.
ABV: 6.9%
PRODUCT: Clear golden, smooth, medium dry Scottish cider
AGE: Matured for at least 6 months to give balance & smoothness
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