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How much, again?

Woodchuck “Original ‘91” Farmhouse Cider (Vermont) – I appreciate the (literally) hand-signed bottles, but when the name of the company is obscured in the side-label fine print it all feels just a little faux-artisan. Can’t Woodchuck make interesting cider without the misdirection? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? And this is good, with layers of dryness over a sharp, slightly cloudy applebrew of relatively indistinct character. The skin-dominated and yeasty characteristics are right, but my primary criticism would be that I’d like to see them get a little bit more out of the apples themselves. (3/12)

The conditional tense of thusly

Thistly Cross Scottish Cider (Scotland) – Zesty. There might be more frothy pepper than apple here, though the latter is sweet enough that the zing is offset. Still, the level or precision of either is of the soft, commercial variety and nowhere near the aggressive fascination of the better Basque, Norman, or even domestic ciders (I’d probably include ciders from the British Isles if I had more than notional experience with them). (3/12)

Almar one

Almar Orchards “J.K.’s Scrumpy” Hard Cider Orchard Gate Gold (Michigan) – Sweet, tasting more of beer-bottle ciders than something more classic. It’s pleasant enough, I suppose. (7/11)

Hendrix at Montreuil

Giard “Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil” Cidre Pays d’Auge “Cambremer” (Normandy) – Absolutely opaque and luridly aromatic; the Islay Scotch of ciders. There’s more pear than apple, at least to my palate, but the apples are something fabulous and iconic (perhaps reine des reinettes), and there’s a heavy hand with the white pepper grinder as the finish develops. Extraordinary. (11/10)

Naturala aboard

Isastegi 2008 Sagardo Naturala (Northwest Spain) – I like cider in various styles, but prefer dry. And this is dry. Also: nicely bitter, electric, and raspy. It cannot be ignored. (8/10)

Crooked timber

North Country Orchard “Crooked Tree” Cider (New Hampshire) – Pretty basic. This tastes more like apple juice with the slight warmth of cider than it does an actual fermented cider. Very pleasant, but not worth the upcharge over (good, local, fresh) supermarket cider. (7/10)


[diorama]Isastegi 2008 Sagardo Naturala (Northwest Spain) – Sting and razor-swipe cider, with a texture of pollen and blades and a lightning-flash green finish. Parched. This is a great excitement to drink. (12/09)

Palace sagardo

[barrel & bottles]Isastegi Sagardo Naturala (Northwest Spain) – Very cloudy. Sharp, drying, almost bitter skins and a parched desert of appleness within; this cider could hardly be more opinionated, and I love it for that very quality. White pepper dusts the finish. (7/09)


Savanna “Dry” Cider (Elgin) – As dry as the label promises, with a fine bitter edge. Not great, but quite drinkable. (11/08)

Below the Poverty Lane

[orchard]Poverty Lane “Farnum Hill” 2007 Kingston Black Cider “Reserve” (New Hampshire) – The aromatic character of ciders doesn’t, at least to my palate, vary as much as the palette of wine grapes, though there are definitely subtle shadings depending on the variety; the general trend is sour-sweet apple, and the range is more concerned with matters of dilution vs. concentration. Here, those shadings are more like outright hues, which is one of the reasons I find this cider so appealing. There’s a tactility to the fruit that’s more like biting into the apple itself than drinking its fermented essence, and the nature of that fruit carries a certain steely minerality. Very impressive. Maybe not the “best” cider I’ve ever tasted, but certainly one of the best from the U.S. (5/09)

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