Inspired by “proper farmhouse ciders” of Spain, England and France, Virtue Cider launched in 2011 with Michigan apples at the center of the fruit-driven philosophy. A secondary, yet still major, component to Virtue’s cider school of thought is the use of barrels — each cider produced by the Fennville cidery is aged in some sort of oak vessel, from bourbon to French oak barrels. Co-founder Greg Hall and team have expanded their course of study to include ciders like Obion (a collaboration with Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky) and a kriek-style co-fermented cherry cider in the Orchard Series, all in addition to well-known staples like The Mitten.
One of the latest forays into 12-ounce four-packs for retail, The Mitten is a tale of two harvests. The cider is a blend of Michigan apples pressed, fermented and aged in bourbon barrels for up to one year, then back-sweetened with the most recent harvest’s sweet juice. Though typically described as a “winter blend,” this toasty, warming, vanilla-hued cider can be just as pleasing on a spring back porch too. Overripe apples, dashes of baking spices and apple skin develop into abundant acid and structural grip on the dry and broad palate.