Beverage-making 101: balance is key. For cider, the apples required to produce a quality bevvie must have the appropriate balance of tannins, acidity and (most importantly) flavor. However, this combination can be rather difficult to find in one single apple. As a result, the majority of cider makers utilize a blend of three different apples that represent each of these notes.
But there are examples of single varietal apples that succeed where others might fail, and accomplish all three of the requirements at the same time. Single varietal hard ciders are still a rarity, and usually are specialty runs with limited productions. However, they are worth seeking out as they represent a unique expression of a specific apple varietal, and the terroir where they are grown. Selecting the Newtown Pippin apple as this focus, known for being one of the prime apples of our nations forefathers, we present our top picks for this single varietal cider.
Original Sin—Heirloom Series: Newton Pippin, New York, NY || 6.7% ABV
Original Sin founder Gidon Coll has had a long fascination with the rarity and uniqueness of apple varietals—so much so that he purchased his own 80-acre apple orchard with the express purpose of growing rare varietals. Original Sin’s Newtown Pippin cider has a Champagne bubbliness, framing a delicacy and refreshing acidity that makes for an excellent hard cider. The apples are sourced from the prime orchard regions of Oregon, and have won numerous awards at cider competitions throughout the country. || originalsin.com
Blue Mountain Cider Company—Estate Newtown Pippin, Milton-Freewater, OR || 6.5% ABV
Hint of tartness balanced by fresh apple aromas, with just a touch of sweetness. Descriptors of Blue Mountain’s Estate Newtown Pippin can hardly express the subtle and intricate quality of this cider. Sourced from a 1,300 acre estate apple orchard out of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, the Estate Newtown Pippin is a prime representation of how location and farming techniques can affect flavor. Blue Mountain has been crafting award-winning ciders since 2003, following more than 40 years of family apple growing and has developed into one of the industries leaders. What once started as a hobby in the family garage has since grown to a company producing over 300,000 gallons of cider. || drinkcider.com
Colorado Cider Company—Newtown Pippin Cider, Denver, CO || 6.0% ABV
The first in a series of pioneer ciders meant to showcase the unique quality of single apple varietal, the Colorado Cider Company hits the ground running with the Newtown Pippin. Beginning on the nose with aromas of apple, tropical fruit and pineapple, the flavors offer a pristine example of the Newton Pippin varietal, highlighting notes of fresh apple, soft pineapple and the slightest amounts of subtle sweetness. First started in 2011, the Colorado Cider Company has been making waves in the Denver booze scene ever since with quality crafted ciders at a reasonable price. The Newtown Pippin finds excellent food pairings with some specialty cheese, or my personal recommendation, nachos! || coloradocider.com
Reverend Nat’s—Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Raspberry Newtown Pippin, Portland, OR || 6.9% ABV
Inspiration came to Nat West when he was given the gift of two freshly used bourbon barrels by Portland, Oregon’s East Side Distilling. How best to utilize this opportunity? By aging the already award-winning Raspberry Newtown Pippin in those bourbon barrels for nine months. The resulting cider differs from many you may have experienced by shining notes of vanilla, toasted oak and coconut that only a bourbon oak barrel can emit. Juices of the Newtown Pippin offer the crisp pineapple and apple tartness, while the raspberries bridge the gap with their subtle berry sweetness. || reverendnatshardcider.com
Dragon’s Head Cider—Pippin Cider, Vashon Island, WA || 6.8% ABV
Should you ever decide to take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle, the ferry ride over to Vashon Island and a stop at Dragon’s Head Cider is a sure fire cure. Dragon’s Head Pippin represents the terroir of where it is grown, covering 1,500 cider apple tree orchard on Vashon Island. Perfectly balanced, and brimming with flavor, bottles of the Pippin can be found throughout Washington and Oregon at numerous quality cider outlets. || dragonsheadcider.com