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Ernest – Bourbon Vanilla

Cider Profile:

Name: Ernest – Bourbon Vanilla
Sampled January 2021

Brand:  Ernest Cider Co.
Type: Flavoured – vanilla and bourbon
Location of Brewing: Aurora, ON
ABV: 8%
Website Link: ernestcider.com
Ingredients: N/A
Gluten Free: N/A
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 750ml (bottle)
Availability: Limited Small Batch – Ernest Online Store
Flavour: Bourbon + vanilla
Colour:  Translucent sunshine yellow
Carbonation: Medium streaming bubbles w/ fine particles


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium aroma. Sweet pulpy apple. Woody, strong bourbon notes. Creamy vanilla.
Initial Taste: Minimal bite. Barrel notes are first obvious, on top of the heritage apple notes. Medium bourbon flavours. Mild astringency.
After Taste: Astringency grows, distracts away from apple base for a time. As it dissipates, vanilla really shines and lingers a bit. Dry finish, clean mouthfeel but flavours stays awhile.
On ice: Watered down, you lose considerable bite/astringency. More apple forward. Vanilla the same.

Additional Notes:  Ernest’s Bourbon Vanilla goes down easy. While 8% and the bourbon notes are forward, it is not heavy and has an easy going mouthfeel. A heritage apple base and creamy ending vanilla notes help to balance out the more astringent aspects of this. This is the epitome of small batch cider – a handwritten label, a strong flavour quality and unique experimentation at hand.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 3
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 4
Fruity – 2.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Shiny – Hank’s Spiced Bourbon Cider
More Sour – West Avenue – Barrett Fuller’s Secret
More Dry – Loch Mor – Bootlegger (Whisky)
More Crisp – 401 Cider – Apple Pie Cider

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Hard Way – Renegade

Cider Profile:

Name:   Hard Way – Renegade
Sampled November 2020

Brand: The Hard Way Cider Co
Type:
Apple – Dry
Location of Brewing: Bath, ON
ABV:
6.5%
Website Link:
hardwaycider.com
Ingredients:
100% locally grown apples, sulphites
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 355mL (can)
Availability:
 Hard Way retail + online store
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:
Transparent, bright golden yellow
Carbonation:
Small and medium bubbles, frequently streaming.



Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Light aroma. Sweet and light pulpy apple smell. Some oaky notes.
Initial Taste: Light bite with some acidity quickly noticeable. Light dessert apple taste with heritage apple notes. Semi-earthy notes. Some oak notes from barreling. Medium astringency.
After Taste: Apple continues the same. Becomes smoother and slightly sweeter. Tangy, lightly tart. Dry finish that is clean.
On ice: Body is thinned (reduced carbonation). Apple is slightly watered down. Crisper and slightly more smooth on ice.

Additional Notes:  Hard Way’s Renegade cider is a straightforward apple cider experience, with the same apple taste from start to finish. With a distinctive oak/wood taste, you get the triple barrel-aging process flavours without dominating the cider’s profile. With some earthiness and astringency, its got a satisfying depth. A great example of a clean, barrel-aged cider that is very sessionable.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 3
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 4
Fruity – 3.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – County – Apple Cider
More Sour – Loch Mor – Untamed Cider (2019)
More Dry – Kings Mill – Scrumpy
More Crisp – Duntroon Cyder – Standing Rock

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Hard Way – Catawampus

Cider Profile:

Name:   Hard Way – Catawampus
Sampled November 2020

Brand: Hard Way Cider Company
Type:
Flavoured – Black Cherry
Location of Brewing: Bath, ON
ABV:
9%
Website Link:
hardwaycider.com
Ingredients:  
Apple, black cherry juice, sulphites
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 355ml (can)
Availability: Hard Way retail store + online
Flavour:
Black Cherry
Colour:
Pale, peachy pink
Carbonation:
Small, infrequently streaming bubbles



Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium aroma. Some astringency and sweetness from bourbon. Medium apple and light cherry notes.
Initial Taste: Medium bite from carbonation and acidity/astringency. Sharp, crisp apple flavour. Hit of bourbon flavour that is astringent and yet also caramelized/vanilla.
After Taste: Bourbon flavour continues but mellows out. Black cherry finally comes through and lingers awhile. Ends dry with bourbon and cherry complimenting each other.
On ice: Carbonation and bourbon flavour is reduced. Smoother.

Additional Notes: The Catawampus from Hard Way is as hard (9%!) as it is to spell! With a prominent bourbon flavour from the barreling process, it dominates from start to finish, with the promised black cherry flavour appearing in the after taste to enhance and compliment from bourbon notes. Slightly astringent from the spirit. With vanilla and caramel hints, among the woody barreling notes, it has a lot going on but is very enjoyable. It’s a slow sipper in our opinion.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 3.5
Crisp – 3
Dry – 4
Fruity – 3.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Busl – Cherry Cider
More Sour – Revel – Sonata
More Dry – Loch Mor –  Bootlegger (Whisky)
More Crisp – Slabtown – Legendary Cherry

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Hard Way – Whiskey Rebellion

Cider Profile:

Name:   Hard Way – Whiskey Rebellion
Sampled April 2020

Brand: Hard Way Cider Co.
Type:
Apple – Barrel Aged
Location of Brewing: Bath, ON
ABV:
9%
Website Link:
hardwaycider.com
Ingredients:  
Apples, sulphites
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 355ml (can)
Availability:
Hard Way Cider Retail Store + Online Store
Flavour:
Apple and whiskey
Colour:
Pale, hazy yellow
Carbonation:
Appears still



Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Strong aroma of whiskey. Astringent. Mild tangy apples.
Initial Taste: No bite but some acidity. Medium-level astringency. Primary taste is a smooth, light whiskey with some semi-tangy apples. Medley of apple flavours.
After Taste: Astringency lingers until the end. Apple dissipates. Dry finish.
On ice: Cuts astringency and overall flavour. Smoother to consume.

Additional Notes: The Whiskey Rebellion from Hard Way delivers on the promised whiskey flavour and sensation, with the astringency from the spirit being the most obvious contribution. With astringency the entire flavour journey, it has some light and smooth whiskey flavour throughout, and some semi-tangy apples but its not necessarily an apple-forward cider. A good cider to take the edge off!

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 2.5
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 3.5
Fruity – 2.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Shiny – Hank’s Spiked Cider (Previously Bootleg Whisky Barrel-Aged Cider)
More Sour – Front Road Cider – Devil’s Cut
More Dry – Loch Mor – Bootlegger (Whisky)
More Crisp – Duxbury – English Scrumpy

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Duxbury – English Scrumpy

Cider Profile:

Name:  Duxbury – English Scrumpy
Sampled April 2020

Brand: Duxbury Cider Co.
Type:
Apple – Scrumpy
Location of Brewing: Meaford, ON
ABV:
8.5%
Website Link:
theduxburyciderco.ca
Ingredients:  
Ontario apples, sulphites
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 473mL (Can)
Availability:
Limited – better beverage bars
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:
Cloudy, straw yellow.
Carbonation:
Small, frequently streaming bubbles

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:


Smell: Strong aroma. Funky, earthy sulphur notes. Heritage apples. Astringency and must.
Initial Taste: Medium bite from carbonation and acidity. Quick apple flavour with many elements, that includes sweet, earthy, bitter aspects. Somewhat pungent.
After Taste: Apple flavours continue and becomes dry. Smooth, creamy finish. Some fermentation elements noticeable, as with most scrumpys.
On ice: Carbonation reduced; along with a reduction in apple notes, and harsh elements.

Additional Notes: This barrel-fermented scrumpy from Duxbury is stellar proof on why they are some of the most authentic traditional method cidermakers in Ontario. Rooted in history, it is rustic, old-world, rudimentary tasting, with a lot of depth of the elements and flavours. Apple forward, it is creamy, musty and earthy; indeed ending very dry and smooth. Very close to its British counterparts.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 3
Crisp – 1.5
Dry – 4
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Bonnieheath Folk’n Hard – Fresh Apple Cider
More Sour – Heritage Estate – Dragon’s Gold
More Dry – Kings Mill – Scrumpy
More Crisp – Ardiel – Dry Apple Cider

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Hard Way – Loco Blanco (“dos”)

Cider Profile:

Name:   Hard Way – Loco Blanco (“dos”)
Sampled March 2020

Brand: Hard Way Cider Company
Type: Apple – Barrel Aged
Location of Brewing:
Bath, ON
ABV:
6.5%
Website Link:
hardwaycider.com
Ingredients:
Apples, sulphites
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: N/ASize(s) available: 500mL (bottle)
Availability:
Hardway Cider Retail Store and Online Store
Flavour: 
Apple & Tequila
Colour:
Semi-hazy, light yellow
Carbonation:
Small, infrequently streaming bubbles


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium aroma. Some astringency from tequila barreling process, and some sweet dessert apples that have an earthy hint.
Initial Taste: Light bite from carbonation. Some pungent but sweet apples followed by a hint of tequila. Some wood notes from barreling.
After Taste: As apple and carbonation fade, tequila becomes more present. Earthy but not overly strong. Finishes somewhat buttery.
On ice: More astringent with a thinner mouthfeel.

Additional Notes:  Barrel-aged but easy to drink, the Loco Blanco (2nd edition), by Hardway is lighter than most ciders we’ve had that spend time conditioning in spirit barrels.  While lighter than anticipated, it still has a considerable kick to it that may very amongst drinkers depending on their preference for Tequila. On ice, it made some of the tequila astringency come out.  The deeper we got into the bottle, the more tequila is noticeable.  Finishes with a smooth, buttery taste (Think elements of a chardonnay)

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 2.5
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 3
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Shiny Cider – Bootleg Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cider
More Sour – Revel Cider – Emergent Property
More Dry – Settlers Cider Co – Bootlegger (Whisky)
More Crisp – Front Road Cider – Devil’s Cut

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Cidre Le Costaud

Cider Profile:

Name: Cidre Le Costaud
Sampled July 2019

Brand: Domaine Pacory
Type:
Apple – French Cidre
Location of Brewing:
Mantilly, France
ABV:
5.9%
Website Link:
pacory.eu
Ingredients:
Apples
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: N/ASize(s) available: 750mL (glass)
Availability:
Special Import (Chalk, Slate, Gravel – Toronto)
Flavour: Apple
Colour:
Hazy rusty-orange
Carbonation:
Fine, frequently streaming. Mild foam.


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium-strong aroma. Sulphur notes and earthy apples with a syrupy essence.
Initial Taste: Light bite. Quickly smooth with sweet, caramelized apple flavours.  Crisp with minimal sour/tart/bitter notes.
After Taste: Remains sweet with some syrupy notes. Smooth and easy throughout. Calvados aging comes though at the completion of the flavour journey.
On ice: Carbonation removed almost completely, somewhat more metallic.

Additional Notes:  A rustic Normandy cider, the Cidre le Coutard is smoother than many other Normandy-styles we have tried.  It’s lighter, not as thick but still very smooth and within the Normandy classification.  Aged in Calvados barrels, it only picks up mild hints and means it’s easy to consume.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 3
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Kings Mill – Ice Cider
More Sour – Le Pere Jules – Cidre de Normandie
More Dry – Eric Bordelet – Sidre Brut Tendre
More Crisp – Dupont – Cidre Reserve

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Dupont – Cidre Reserve

Cider Profile:

Name:   Dupont – Cidre Reserve
Sampled October 2019

Brand: Famille Dupont
Type: Apple – French Cidre
Location of Brewing:
Victot-Pontfol, France
ABV:
7.5%
Website Link:
Calvados-dupont.com
Ingredients:  
N/A
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 750ml  (bottle)
Availability:
LCBO Vintages 
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:  
Rusty Orange
Carbonation:
Medium, streaming bubbles, some foam.



Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium aroma, semi-astringent and earthy.  Some creamy notes and old-world apples. Some caramel and vanilla
Initial Taste: Light bite from carbonation, followed by a smooth, semi-sweet and crisp clean heritage apple flavour.  Some pear and wood notes.
After Taste: Mild tanginess, has some spices that add to the woodiness. Not overly long lingering but has a slight film. Calvados more present in the aftertaste, and the longer the bottle is open.
On ice: Carbonation, calvados and some harshness reduced.

Additional Notes:  Clean, smother and lighter then most French ciders of this nature, the Dupont Cidre Reserve is apple forward and very easy to drink.  Smells much mustier then it actually is, the barrel-aging adds a nice, simple and light kick of calvados spirit – especially the warmer the cider gets. You also get a pleasant wood flavour from the barrels. Lightly spiced but very clean.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 2.5
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 3
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –
More Sour – Eric Bordelet – Poire Autentique
More Dry – Le Pere Jules – Cidre de Normandy
More Crisp – Pierre Huet – Appellation Cirde Pays D’auge Protegee

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Loch Mór Cider – Bootlegger (Whisky)

Cider Profile:

Name:  Loch Mór Cider Company – Bootlegger (Whisky)
Sampled July 2019

Brand: Loch Mór Cider Company (formerly Settlers Cider 2019)
Type:
Apple – Barrel-Aged
Location of Brewing: Hillier, ON
ABV:
7.2%
Website Link:
lochmorcider.com
Ingredients:  
N/A
Gluten Free:
N/A
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 500mL (bottle)
Availability:
At Loch Mór Retail Store + online store
Flavour:
Apple + Whisky
Colour:
Creamy, pale yellow
Carbonation:
Medium streaming bubbles



Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Mild aroma. Sweet, light apple. Some earthiness and astringency from whisky.
Initial Taste: Medium sensation from carbonation. Quickly sweet, creamy apples. Acidic and earthy. Some spirit astringency. Mild vanilla notes.
After Taste: Whisky comes through with a medium punch of flavour and bite. Dissipates somewhat quickly but mildly lingers. Creamy, semi-dry finish.
On ice: Reduces carbonation and flavour, somewhat significantly

Additional Notes: While not as spirit heavy as the rum equivalent in the series, the whisky-barrel aged Bootlegger from Loch Mór does pack a good punch of flavour and bite. Surprisingly smooth and crisp, it has a lot earthiness and some astringency from the aging process. With mainly sweet apples flavours, they seem to work to balance the cider out. The whisky flavour gets stronger the more you drink it; and we don’t recommend drinking this on ice unless the whisky is too strong for you

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 2.5
Crisp – 3.5
Dry – 3
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Shiny – Bootleg Whisky Barrel Aged Cider
More Sour – Apple Falls – Hopped Kombucha
More Dry – Duxbury – Heritage 1650
More Crisp – County – Waupoos Premium Cider

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Empire Cider – Midnight Run

Cider Profile:

Name:  Empire Cider – Midnight Run
Sampled December 2018

Brand: Empire Cider Co.
Type: Apple – Dry
Location of Brewing: Codrington, Ontario
ABV: 6%
Website Link: empirecider.ca
Ingredients: Ontario apples, honey
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 650mL (bottle)
Availability: Cidery permanently closed
Flavour: Apple
Colour: cloudy, golden-yellow
Carbonation: a few still bubbles, softly carbonated.  A lot of sediment.

 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium-strong, sweet apple smell. Musty and slightly astringent aromas.  Some rum elements.
Initial Taste: Sweet bite. Bitter, musty and earthy notes noticeably build and decrease. Strong apple flavours with lemon hints.  Strong rum presence.
After Taste: Becomes slightly sour and tangy feeling. Finishes with both sweet apple flavours and bitter, astringent fermentation notes.  Dark rum remains in the aftertaste.
On ice: Similar carbonation levels. Ice slightly cuts the bite of the cider, making the cider somewhat more smooth to consume. Becomes sweeter and more astringent tasting.

Additional Notes: Midnight Run is an apologetically craft cider that has a strong traditional apple presence, that isn’t afraid to feature the flavours of the barreling and fermentation process. It is a very smooth cider to consume overall, that is both simple and straightforward to drink; yet complex with many different notes detected on the palate.  Rum is brilliantly showcased, with a balanced levels so not powering but still has a good complexity.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 3
Crisp – 4
Dry – 2.5
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

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Hard Way – Rogue

Cider Profile:

Name:  Hard Way – Rogue
Sampled July 2018 (Updated July 2020)

Brand:  The Hard Way Cider Co.
Type:  
Apple – Barrel Aged
Location of Brewing:
Bath, Ontario
ABV:
6.5%
Website Link: 
hardwaycider.com
Ingredients:
Apples, organic cane sugar, sulphites
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: N/ASize(s) available: 500ml Bottle
Availability: Retail Store and Kingston Farmers Market
Flavour: Apple
Colour:
Cloudy sunshine yellow
Carbonation:
Strong, frequent streaming bubbles


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium, fleshy acidic apple. Some oak notes from barrels, somewhat earthy and musty. Acitic.
Initial Taste: Bite from acidity and carbonation, dry peel sensation of musty apples.  Earthy with some vanilla notes.
After Taste: Becomes more woody and oakey in aftertaste. Long-lingering with some tartness.  Some astringency. Apple flavour dissipates quickly, leaving other elements on the palate.
On ice: Carnation cut, slightly thinner mouth feel.  Little difference beyond that. Earthiness more pronounced.

Additional Notes:  The Hard Way Cider Co. puts a lot of effort into their barrel aged ciders.  This earthy and acidic cider has a reduced apple flavour but a lot of other characteristics such as the barrel aging woodiness, carbonation and earthiness that are showcased. Sophisticated but not extreme, you can tell this is a farm influenced cider.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2.5
Sour – 2
Crisp – 3
Dry – 3.5
Fruity – 2.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet – Duxbury Side Road Cider
More Sour – Spirit Tree Draught Cider
More Dry – 401 Cider – Sparkling Oaked Cider
More Crisp – Great Cider – Nice and Dry

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