Monday, December 23, 2013

Cider Review: Woodchuck Cellar Series Smoked Apple

Back to the cellar series from Woodchuck! I so enjoyed their Dry Hopped Cider (reviewed here There you can find some background on the company as well as links back to my reviews of Woodchuck's Winter limited release and their Belgian White cider.

Woodchuck now keeps a blog for their cidery business; it hosts recipes that feature a wide variety of their ciders. So, if you like cider recipes or want to read more about Woodchuck, it is definitely something to check out:  The specific entry on the Cellar Series Smoked Apple is really neat because of its rare visual insight into Woodchuck's cider making process.
I'm back with their cider series this evening, reviewing their Smoked Apple cider. Full admission here, I did not pay for this cider. Woodchuck was kind enough to send me a bottle for review. Here's the short version of their official description of the Smoked Apple, "Apple pomace is smoked using a blend of maple and applewood chips. Our original small batch hard cider is run through the smoked pomace. The result is a full-bodied deep amber cider. Strong crisp apple notes with hints of vanilla are balanced on an applewood smoked backdrop." I'd like to just throw in a few background facts. This cider's ABV is 6.5% and it is only available in 22 ounce bottles. This is pretty much the perfect sharing size.
 "After the pomace was smoked using maple and applewood chips it was brought to the Middlebury Cidery. The smoked pomace was then infused into small batch fermented cider. The result is a full bodied deep amber cider. Strong crisp apple notes with hints of vanilla are balanced on an applewood smoked backdrop. A well-balanced, limited run cider that is perfect for the cooler days ahead."

 Appearance: Deep burnished brown red, many many many visible bubbles

I honestly cannot tell if this cider is brilliant, hazy, or cloudy. Between the dark mahogany color and the number of bubbles, it is difficult to see the clarity of the Smoked Apple. I notice the color more than anything else, because it is so unusual. This depth and redness just looks rich and satisfying.

Aromas: leather, fresh apples, hint of smoke

The more I  inhale this deeply and think about it, the more I can scent the smoke. My dear husband Alex gets beer and cranberries. I can see where he is coming from, but the Smoked Apple still smells more like leather to me.

Flavors and drinking experience: Smoke, bacon, apple

As I drink the Smoked Apple, it begins like sweet molasses but then the other flavors take over. Mostly those other flavors are smoke, leather, peat and meatiness. Seriously, this is like bacon cider. Bacon freaks, I know you are out there. Dig in. Whiskey, earth, smokety-smoke smoke. It intensifies in the after flavor. The smoke makes this a beverage for its sensory experience rather than any thirst-quenching properties, but it's uniqueness more than makes up for that. 

Overall, this is a super neat cider. Probably not one I'll buy for myself with any regularity just because of the intense bacon-ness that the smoke calls to my mind. I do heartily recommend it though for fans of smoked beverages. Still though, I'm more than happy to enjoy it with some vegetarian chili or lentil soup. It is super warming and appropriate for these cold dark months. I'd also recommend it for a recuperating after winter outdoor adventures. I've been enjoying giant walks in the snow lately (till our rain melted it all) and this is the perfect kind of cider to enjoy after coming in from the cold.