Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Cider Reviews: Whitewood Cider Co.'s Newtown Pippin Gin-Barrel Aged Cider and Eden Speciality Cider's Brut Nature

The world is a scary place right now. I’m not equipped to say much about COVID-19, but I know it’s affecting all of us. I’m working from home, minimizing social contact, and thinking of people affected far more seriously than me. 

Those groups include so much of the beverage world, everyone from bartenders to cider makers. Some businesses are making very hard choices right now so that they can continue to support their employees while also doing their part to keep wider communities safe. Buy from them if you can!

I’m starting with Whitewood Cider Co.'s Newtown Pippin Gin-Barrel Aged Cider. This is a Washington State micro-cidery that I adore. I only wish I could get Dave’s ciders more often here in New York. If you ever see these on a list or a shelf, try them! 

Here’s Whitewood Cider Co’s website, along with the promise of pickup and cider delivery starting soon:

I’ve reviewed a few of their ciders before. Here’s the list.


Northland Traditional Blend:


Kingston Black and Wickson Apple:
This one even landed in the #4 slot of my 2018 top ten cider list.

Here’s the description of the Newtown Pippin Gin Barrel Aged Cider from Whitewood Cider Co: “5 months in former Westland Distillery whiskey barrel, turned Big Gin gin barrel and Newtown Pippin's lime and tropical characteristics fused every so nicely with the wood and leftover gin and botanicals. Reminiscent of a real dry, woody gin and tonic.” 7% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, jeweler’s brass, visible bubbles

This bright cider reminds me of jeweler’s brass (also known as Merlin’s Gold) in color. It’s brilliantly clear with no haze at all. I see some visible bubbles. 

Aromas: fresh apple, sage, basil, butterscotch and barrel

I love the herbal notes that explode into the air as soon as I crack this bottle open. The Newtown Pippin gets so many notes from that gin barrel aging but the fresh apple still come through. At the same time, I can smell sage, basil, butterscotch, and barrel.

All of the herbs create a whole impression that’s savory, peppery, and green. The butterscotch and woodiness come from the barrel character for certain. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

This lovely cider is a well balanced semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: herbaceous, spicy, high acid, barrely

The Newtown Pippin brings much of what I could smell into the taste beautifully. There are oodles of herbs and apples, and somehow I also get menthol, spicy, and barrely notes. This cider brings medium tannins, high acid, and a pronounced woody finish.

 This feels like a journey from scent to tastes to finish. I experience apples, gin herbs, and barrel complexity each in turn. This is wonderful! This cider has a medium light mouthfeel and lots of sparkle. The Newtown Pippin has small yet plentiful bubbles. 

I paired this quite spontaneously with chocolate cookies, good companionship and worry about the state of the world. I think you can probably do better, but this cider was fantastic even so. 

Next up, it’s Eden Speciality Cider's Brut Nature.

I love Eden Specialty Ciders. That’s no secret. I’m a member of the cider club, and I review the ciders often. Plus I have such respect and affection for founder Eleanor Leger. This is a small cidery in northern Vermont that started with ice cider, then added aperitifs, and in the past few years has released a number of outstanding still and sparkling ciders made with heirloom apples. 

The Brut Nature got a mini-review before it’s release at Cider Con 2018. I’ll link to that here.

Other previous Eden reviews include: 

The Extra Sec:

Siren Song:


Imperial 11 Degree Rose: (This is my fave cider of 2017.)

Heritage canned cider:

Sparkling Dry: (also a top ten cider.)

When you’re stuck inside, take some time to learn about all of Eden ciders on the website:

Appearance: brilliant, warm straw, tiny dancing bubbles

This hand-disgorged cider shows off all that hard labor by looking totally brilliant. It’s enticing to see. The color reminds me of warm afternoon sunlight, and I can see tiny bubbles dancing their way to the surface. 

Aromas: nectar, overripe apples, fall flowers, and falling leaves 

This cider is extremely aromatic. I remember noticing that at CiderCon as well. It’s just a lovely floral and overripe fruit melange expanding in all directions. Something about this aroma just reminds me of fall and harvest, somehow the aromas are fall flowers and falling leaves. 

Sweetness/dryness: Dry (with a caveat)

This cider tastes dry. It isn’t bone dry or drying, but the cider doesn’t really lean on the bare hint of sweetness that is hiding in its layers. 

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, dry, high acid, high level of sparkle. 

The Brut Nature is a spicy, fruity, dry cider with plenty of acidity and tannins to power a bounteous experience with sip. I love ciders that go all in on all of my favorite characteristics, and this certainly does that. The fruit notes are tropical fruit and pomme fruit, but there’s plenty of floral and spicy notes too. The cider is super bubbly; the natural secondary fermentation keeps them small and vigorous. 

I enjoyed this cider alongside roasted veggies with mushroom gravy, sharp cheddar and good wheat-y bread. It was a lovely meal meant to give sustenance and warmth in difficult nights, and the cider helped elevate it from just supper to a fortifying and delicious experience. 

Good luck this week and beyond. When I raise my glass, I’ll think of you, my faraway cider friends.