This one will get your juices flowing.
Amber, effervescent, and crabby, it packs sour and bitter bites with very little perceptible sugar to offset them. It’s most definitely unique, complex, and interesting. Whether it’s pleasant, though, is another matter…to me it seems to lack the rounded, warm earthiness of a cider like, say, Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, and instead delivers an upfront, crab apple buffeting that lingers on the palate–it’s a bit harsh for my everyday drinking tastes.
Thinking it would be interesting to know what contributes to this unique flavor profile–the bottle’s description only mentions a blend of ‘American, English, and French cider varieties’–I decided to contact Tieton by email. They replied very promptly and clarified things for me–by wild they actually mean heirloom varieties like the English-origin Kingston Black, which appear wild compared to the modern, Stepford-Wives-Pretty grocery store varieties. So it’s not actually crab or apple crab–the real, ‘wild’ apple varieties–involved here, but really is just a blend of American, English, and French cider apples.
As I’ve recently tried an incredible, single-variety Kingston Black cider by Dick Dunn of Talisman Farms and the Rocky Mountain Cider Association, this perplexes quite a bit because I did not detect the same, sharp profile with that cider; rather, it had a rich, wine-like fullness and rounded, earthy bitterness that was smooth and serious. It had Gravitas in droves. Ultimately, it’s all about the blend, I suppose.
Had I been both scientifically-minded (check! well, sometimes) and patient (um…), I’d have kept some around to see what it tastes like when a bit warmer and flatter–sometimes different flavors will assert themselves in these conditions–but I couldn’t wait that long to finish it, so apparently it wasn’t all that bad.
Actually, this isn’t a bad cider at all. It’s just not a comfortable, easy-going cider. There are certain moods that strike me for which it would, and will, fit the bill nicely. I’ll likely be seeking out more it to keep in my line-up when I want to demonstrate the range of cider flavor possibilities to friends. And, in fact, it’s won a number of awards (as have other ciders in Tieton’s lineup), so don’t shy away from it on my account. Just…treat it with the respect its intensity demands.
Kudos to Tieton for pushing the envelope on this one.
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