Even though I've seen snow every day since last Thursday, I want to review at least one more autumnal cider before we take the official plunge into winter. Luckily for me, winter doesn't begin technically for another five weeks. (Not that I think upstate New York is listening.) So, I'm pretending that we're still living in an autumnal wonderland for my review of McKenzie's Hard Cider Pumpkin Jack!
McKenzie's is a widely available cider brand where I live, but I honestly don't know how common it is out of state. Commentors are encouraged to enlighten me! Their ciders are made here in upstate NY. The website has plenty more information here: http://www.mckenziesbeverages.com/.
While I love learning in-depth information about fermentation techniques and apples choices, I must say that the coolest thing on the McKenzie's website is a huge and varied page of cider facts, http://www.mckenziesbeverages.com/cider-facts. There's plenty of party trivia here!
McKenzie's Ciders have come up in my blog a few times. Here you can read all of my earlier reviews.
But tonight, I'm not worried about anything except the Pumpkin Jack. We'll see exactly what this variation on the current pumpkin craze (and it is a craze) is all about. McKenzie's official description is a bit light on information, but it says, "Who Needs Pumpkin Pie When You Can Have This! It’s All Treats & No Tricks with McKenzie’s 'Pumpkin Jack' Fall Seasonal Hard Cider! This selective Seasonal uses only the finest real pumpkin and fall spices to enhance and excite both your nose and your taste buds!" From this, I can expect some pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices in the cider. Let's see how it looks out of the bottle, and more importantly, how it tastes.
Appearance: brilliant, pumpkin orange, a few super tiny visible bubbles
It is almost a shame to sell this in a tinted bottle because the intense pumpkin orange of the cider really supports the branding. It is gorgeous and super fall pretty in the glass.
Aroma: Nutmeg, Pumpkin, Spicy, Salty?
The smells that this cider offers are far more spice than pumpkin and far more pumpkin pie than cider or apple of any sort. Not that every cider has to taste and smell just exactly like apple. This smells more like nutmeg, pumpkin pie spices, and an odd little hint of salt.
This is decidedly sweet with a dark raisiny sweetness. As far as the many, nearly infinite, types of sweet out there, this is one of the best.
Flavors and drinking experience: very sweet, desserty, mild carbonation
Nuance is not the strong suite of this particular cider, but it is completely fun. If one lets go of any sense of expectation save that of pumpkin pie, this cider really delivers that. It is sweeter than many pumpkin pies, but it has a few phases of flavor. It starts with a hit of sweet, goes spicy but cool, and offers a more gently sweet finish.
The Pumpkin Jack tastes very interesting, but it is not something I could drink regularly. I think I'd be more likely to use it to make a reduction and turn it into a dessert sauce. Pumpkin Jack has loads of flavor and for those who cannot get enough pumpkin spice, it would likely be a total winner.
I paired my Pumpkin Jack cider with a spicy chili for a bit of counterpoint. Sweetness is my favorite accompaniment to culinary heat. I enjoyed it that way plenty.