Seattle’s Schilling Hard Cider has long been at the forefront of cider regulations in the state of Washington. Founder Colin Schilling helped push forward cider growler laws in 2014, regularly teaches cidermaking courses for the public and previously sat on the board of the Northwest Cider Association.
Back at it again, the cidery, which also has a taproom and production facility in Portland, Oregon, is pushing boundaries once more by canning the country’s highest alcohol cider in aluminum container six-packs — Excelsior, an “imperial” cider blend of Washington apples and European bittersharps, sitting at 8.5 percent ABV. Though not officially out until early July (Schilling’s Facebook will announce the release in cans), a quick stop to the Seattle cider house allowed for a sneak peek on draft. The nose is herbal and savory, showing aromatics of dusty earth and crushed herbes de Provence (think rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano), edged with hints of yellow apple. Upon first sip, the lighter bodied approach reveals easy acid but builds up to a fuller mid-palate of golden fruit flavors and mineral, with a nice smack of acid and sweet-sharp characteristics in the finish.