Slowly but surely (and somewhat quietly), apple-based spirits are making themselves known in the world of distillates. For apple-growing regions, such as upstate New York, apple spirits are a no-brainer, especially when you have a 105-year-old orchard. At Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette, New York, the thriving plot of trees has been family-farmed and-operated since its eponymous year, name its house distillery 1911 Spirits and estate cidery 1911 Hard Cider. The fledgling cider business brings a fully loaded lineup to the market, including an upper tier Founders’ Reserve line and the crushable, fruit-forward six-pack offerings (Blueberry, Raspberry and Original).
From the Founders’ Reserve bottlings — named in honor of Andrew Beak and George Skiff — the Hopped Hard Cider straddles the worlds of beer and cider, even including an International Bittering Unit (IBU) reading of 22 for drinkers to ponder. American hops specializing in bitterness and aromatics provide the juicy, semi-dry cider with a bouquet of citrus, flowers and slight resin, while the fruit offers up its main game of red apple and earthy scents. The palate matches, closing with a hint of bitterness in the softly fruity finish.