County Cider – Maple Bourbon Cider [Elgin Beer Project – Ottawa]
Sampled July 2019
Every time we go into Elgin Beer Project, the ‘Cheers’ theme song might as well be playing. We know most of the staff and a many of them know us, including owner/manager Scotty. Scotty is quite the character, always excited to show us the new ciders he has available and also remind us of his delicious beer creation, the Nutbutter Stout. While the draft line changes frequently at Elgin Beer Project, for awhile now you can always find 3 consistencies: The NutButter Stout, their other exclusive offering the ‘Acne’ Pilsner, and a keg of County Cider in various flavours – many times flavoured; and even sometimes a new flavoured offering.
One of the newest County creations is the Maple Bourbon Cider. Available sometimes at their Picton retail store in growler pours, it is a very intriguing flavour combination that we feel is a north meets south lovechild. A light yellow, the colouring was a bit surprising as maple and bourbon are usually a rich brown colour. Cidermaker, Danielle, tells us they use locally sourced maple syrup, a ‘hint of bourbon extract’ commonly used in baking, ice cream and sauces, and mid-level carbonation. This cider was developed for the annual ‘Maple in the County’ celebration and only a few batches are made a year (with the possibility of one more coming later in the year so watch their socials!)
This cider has a medium level aroma of vanilla, smooth, sweet bourbon and creamy apples. There is a medium bite from the frequently streaming bubbles and a slight acidity to start. There is a quick astringent punch from the bourbon that only makes a slight appearance, with then the bourbon flavour becoming smoother, sweeter and even a bit smokey. With the standard mixture of heritage and dessert apple notes commonly found in County Ciders, they are tangy, tannic and linger from start to finish.
As the cider progresses on, all the elements become smoother on the palate and more vanilla notes come through from the bourbon addition. Here is where the promised maple flavour becomes obvious, providing an earthy, sap-like touch to the drink. As the cider finishes sweet, caramel and caramelized flavour notes leave you satisfied.
Overall this cider is a more sweet offering, but given its bourbon and maple adjuncts, we feel it could appeal to a wide base of cider and alcohol consumers. Its rather clean and crisp and it delivers on all promised titular flavours. It very much aligns with the rest of the County Cider portfolio of beverages in taste and other characteristics, so if you are a County fan, this one is for you. It actually reminds us a bit of their Rootbeer Cider that they premiered 2 years ago, that we just learned this week is coming back to their store (and hopefully to a bar near you!).