This year’s Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition, known as GLINTCAP, was a record setter with entries from seven countries, 784 in the commercial division and 219 from home cidermakers, making it now the largest cider competition in the world.
Some 100 judges representing a significant cross section of the cider industry—cidermakers, journalists, distributors and serious enthusiasts—spent a balmy Saturday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, carefully evaluating a multitude of ciders as well as perrys, ice ciders and pommeaus, a blend of cider and distilled apple spirits.
The buzz going round during the breaks of this 11th annual competition was how impressed everyone was with the overall quality of the entries, especially in the non-commercial division. In fact, a very small cidermaker in Colorado, Dick Dunn of Talisman Farm, won the Best in Class award for his stunning ice cider, while another was awarded to Les Vergers de la Colline, singled out for its CID Rosé, which was featured in the new issue of CIDERCRAFT magazine.
Some of the most well respected names in the cider world took part in the judging including Steve Wood and Nicole Leibon of Farnum Hill, the cider directors of Wassail in New York City (Dan Pucci) and Chicago’s The Northman (Bryan Rutzen), and Ben Watson, author of “Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own.”
It was gratifying to see how seriously these worthies took their job of not only evaluating each entry but giving constructive feedback to the entrant. More than one amateur cidermaker in years past has gone on to launch their own commercial enterprise.
A distinct highlight for all involved was the presence of Julian and Diana Temperly of Burrow Hill in Somerset, United Kingdom, who traveled across the pond just to participate as judges. Julian Temperly has been growing apples and making well respected cider and apple brandy in Somerset for 30 years, though the farm has been producing cider since the 19th century. He was most impressed with his first foray into cider judging in the United States, due in part to the incredible organization created by GLINTCAP director Eric West as well as the quality of the entries. In fact, he was on the panel that awarded a gold medal to Snowdrift Cider Co. for their Cornice, which was subsequently awarded Best in Class.
Blind tastings are always interesting as you meet the cider on its own terms without the preconceptions that can come with knowing who made it. The sheer number of entries meant that it was impossible to try everything, but it was exciting to be a part of such an august group and gratifying to participate in the evolution of American cider. I can’t wait to head back to Grand Rapids to see what GLINTCAP 2017 will bring.
For a full listing of all the medal winners, visit the GLINTCAP website.