Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cider Review: Slyboro's Black Currant Hard Cider

Just over the Vermont border in upstate New York, I'm back to review a cider from Slyboro Cider House out of Granville, NY. I've not yet been to their tasting room, but I understand that it's open from July to Thanksgiving. Hopefully, the next time I'm up in the Saratoga Springs area, I can take a detour to visit these guys. But for now, I'm just happy I can source their ciders locally.

This is what they say about themselves.
 Named for the centuries-old hamlet that is home to Hicks Orchard, Slyboro Ciderhouse re-introduces the lost craft of traditional American ciders. Just as grapes are transformed into wine, our ciders are fermented from our own orchard-grown apples; unlocking the full potential of the apple by creatively blending a a distinctive range of delicious, award-winning ciders.

We at Slyboro Ciderhouse are dedicated to reclaiming cider - "true cider" - as America's favorite drink. We invite you to explore and discover the flavors and delights of Slyboro Ciders. In any season, for special occasions, or to enrich the moment, "consider cider."
You can see some additional information at their website:

My most completely previous review of one of their ciders is of a drier one no longer listed on their website, the Old Sin:

Today I'm reviewing their Black Currant Hard Cider. It strikes me as perfect for summer time, and July has really been cranking out the warm days and thunderstorms. This is summer, and I like to enjoy my sweeter fruit blended ciders ice cold on hot days to best show off their refreshing capabilities.

Skyboro's official description of the Black Currant Hard Cider reads, "A semi-sweet hard cider with Black Currants added after fermentation. It's purple, it's bubbly, with a nice black currant complexity. It's the New Black!"

Let me share now (as if it will surprise anyone) that I am not a cider purist. Gasp worthy, I know. I love the cider purists, and I frequently love the ciders that they love, but while I love apple and only apple beverages, I don't think shutting out blended, fruited, spiced, or spiked ciders is actually in the best interest of the cider drinker or the cider world. I tend to veer on the side of inclusion and open minded (empty glassed?) consideration most of the time. And one of the most common fruit blended styles I like to find and try are black currant ciders. Partly because I think black currant is a lovely fruit and partly because I learned to enjoy any drinks at all by drinking Snakebite and Blacks at the university pub in Norwich, England. I do want to own my biases and my happy memories.

Here's a previous review of a black currant cider, Doc's Draft Hard Cassis Cider:

Appearance: clear, deeply colored, no visible bubbles

The color appears cranberry. Very vampire blood—if a SyFy Channel vampire show runs low on props for the banquet scene, this'll do nicely. Also, I'm finally getting around to the last season of True Blood, so I've got deep rich reds like this on my brain.

Aromas: currant, black berry, cherry

I can smell immediately the black currant, blackberry,  fruit punch, and cherry. From the smell, I'm guessing the cider will be both astringent and sweet. Even just sniffing it activates my salivary glands. Beyond this, I'm noticing hints of red wine. Again, this strikes me as both rich and fruity.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

The sweetness reminds me of fruit punch and cane sugar. It is a very direct sort of sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience:  fruity, foxy, sweet, bubbly

I get a sweet kick at beginning, lots of bubbles, and a long black currant finish. The fruit notes are very currant jam, Welch's grape and fruit punch. After a while, I can taste notes of burnt sugar and fascinatingly foxy grapes. Sometimes that's how black currant comes across to me: tangy, wild, and almost gamey.

 I taste this cider in the middle of the tongue.  The alcohol taste is mild and gentle, but with a slightly boozy lingering sensation. It offers plenty of natural acids, mostly malic but a bit of citric. One of the fun things about black currant, tannins are inherently tannic, so these ciders come at tannins in a totally different way, yet some tannic qualities are decidedly recognizable. I love that.  Maybe I'd  even call the tannins surprisingly medium high. I get some banana notes in the finish, but berries still dominate.

This isn't a cider for all of the time, but when the mood strikes, I can see this as quite satisfying. It does go well with feta and watermelon salad, baguette, and fabulously trashy TV. If you've not tried a black currant cider before, seek one out. They are fun and different! This is a great one to try.