Thus let us drink cider...
Ah, the ripened extract of pears and apples, which is particularly popular in the United Kingdom and the rest of the Commonwealth, i.e. the ancient libation commonly known as Cider.
There is no shortage of cider varieties: From arid to luscious, sparkling, and opaque with solid residue via brown, amber and clear, the variations are informed by the refining processes between pressing and fermentation.
Local varieties differ in terms of alcohol content and of course the apples that form the foundation of the methods used to create them.
In the land down under that are nowadays at least one hundred and thirty cider producers with more popping up every months. In other words, the taste and market for Apfelwein has grown considerably and the Australian palate has become more sophisticated when it comes to appreciating the wide range of styles that cider comes in. With a growing thirst for true ciders down under, i.e. ones that consist of more goodness than concoction mixed with water and apple concentrate, it is not further wondrous that the yearly Australian Cider Festival, organised by the peak body Cider Australia, is one of the most popular events when it comes to events that celebrate the juice of crushed apples and local cideries.
The 2018 incarnation was a well-curated and expertly organised affair with a range of different ciders on offer along with master classes conducted by industry luminaries and sustenance that was either infused with cider or selected so it would pair well.
Discoveries of the fair were, apart from the never not excellent Willie Smith’s (see feature below), Pomologist Cider from New South Wales Highlands: Made from organically and biodynamically grown heritage apples, their ciders prove to be an excellent pairing with meaty, savoury foods as it compliments the fruit nuances and floral aromas.
Hillbilly Cider’s Vintage was the winner of the day: Double fermented in French oak barrels and reminiscent of its equivalents from the Normandy region, this expression is one to savour and can easily be partaken in instead of a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne with its dry and earth finish.
Sydney Brewery’s Agave Ginger Cider proved to be less of a novelty than the name might initially suggest: Being a tequila aficionado, the medium sweetness is accentuated by a ginger zing, which makes it dangerously more-ish. Along with their Oaked Organic Cider and their Pale Ale, the range that Sydney Brewery had on offer made one plan a visit to their Sydney incarnation to sample what else they have in store.
Change of pace?
Enter Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider from Huon Valley.
Their basic variant is a 5.4% ABV distinctive cider for craft beer drinkers, taking a page from the book of how ciders were made in the North of France.
An exercise in refreshing as a nuanced acidity is serenades and framed by warm apple flavours and a remarkable tannin structure culminating in an easy cleansing finish. The aroma holds red apple, more than mere hints of oak and fresh citrus, which finds its equivalent on the palate.
This babyh pours a thin wheat gold with a white head, substantiated with a tart apple aroma, oak, mild citrus, and sweet apple notes. The mouth feels spritzy, light bodied, high carbonation, dry tannic finish.
Willie Smith’s Bone Dry Cider, is, as the name suggests, a dry one. What with the first few sips appears to be French in flavour, the Bone dry is based on a style reminiscent of Herfordshire with the main difference being the apples used.
As it is fermented long, sweetness is reduced and the alcohol content being increased due to a second fermentation process in oak barrels which leave their trace on the dark and cloudy final, vigorously sparkling product.
With the nose being predominantly earthy, it is super easy to drink – dangerous at that with the alcohol coming in at 6.8% and a super crisp finish.
Now, Willie Smiths also does limited edition releases.
Unfortunately they are limited.
Case in point, the Willie Smith’s Kingston Black 2017.
Using one of the most converted apples for making single variety cider, and particularly difficult to cultivate as it is prone to many diseases, the harvest is rewarded with an emission that is high in acid and bitters with enough sugar to give a solid alcohol level.
Now, thing with this complex beauty is that apart from apples, it also gives you nuances of oranges and notes of caramel with a refreshingly crisp finish.
Deliciousness par excellence that makes one wonder what Willie Smiths Sullivans Cove Whisky Aged Cider must be like . . .
Aight - Rekorderlig is an established cider brand from Sweden that produces quality ciders in an array of flavour variations in all colours of the rainbow, all clocking in at a relatively low 4.5% abv alcohol level. While they have always encouraged people to use their emissions as a basis for cocktails, have recently embarked on a new venture, i.e. the introduction of a fresh new range of ready-to-drink bartender quality Cider Cocktails to their repertoire with the aim being to add a twist to their classic offerings.
Based on the DNA of the Swedish summer punch “Bål”, Rekorderlig’s Strawberry-Lime Swedish Punch mixes mint, lime and elderflower with vodka and Strawberry-Lime Cider. What results is a citrusy-sweet fruit punch that does not lack a refreshing taste of summer.
Encouraged by the traditional Daisy Cocktail, made with brandy or whiskey, Rekorderlig’s Mango-Raspberry Daisy infused with Swedish vodka and finished with a citrusy mix of orange and lemon.
Have you heard of “Bramble”? Me neither, but apparently it is a cocktail that was quite popular in the 1980s. While it is fabled that the original was based on a foundation of gin, Rekorderlig’s take on it uses rum and mixes it with their Wild Berries Cider.
While I can see that readymade cocktails will elicit contorted faces from some hardcore cocktail aficionados, the underlying idea informing Rekorderlig’s approach is the creation of cocktails that can be enjoyed anywhere, from picnics and barbeques to the poolside or beachside – something that has been achieved by them serving it in a sleek, clear 330ml glass bottle.
Check out more of the "Thus, let us drink" series.
Photos by T