The executive branch of BWG decided to change things up a bit throughout October. Most of our reviews this month will be of spirit products that have been barrel aged. Whiskey is exclusively aged in wood barrels, but there are countless other products that use the process of aging in barrels to affect the flavor and texture of the spirit. Some are affected in a positive and complex manor, while others, not so much.
Our first barrel aged review comes to us in the form of a hard cider produced just north east of Buffalo in Barker, NY. Black Bird Cider Works is a fully licensed apple farm and cidery. They take pride in the entire production of their ciders all the way from the farm, to the bottle. This is an excerpt from their website:
“BlackBird Cider Works uses apples specially selected from our own orchard. The apples are pressed and the juice (or “must”) is then fermented. After fermentation, the must is racked off into either oak barrels or stainless steel tank for aging. Once the aging process is completed, our hard cider is bottled and finally ready for consumption.”
Blackbird’s Buffalo Bluegrass Kentucky Barrel Aged Cider is bottled at 9.9% abv. It’s made from a blend of four apple varieties, fermented using an open air fermentation process and aged in ex-bourbon barrels. The flavor profiles right off the bat remind us of champaign more than anything else. There’s a unique funk to the nose, as well as apples and oak as one would expect. But oddly, the apple is subtle, you have to dig for it behind the pronounced champaign-like funk. The palate is bright, bubbly and crisp with a short, dry finish. The uniqueness of the Buffalo Bluegrass Cider was a bit hard to wrap our palates around. But after a few sips and letting it breathe for a bit, it’s funky flavors grew on us and the finish leaves you with a pleasant, quaffable flavor. Although it’s different enough for some cider lovers to balk at, we rather enjoyed our first foray into Blackbird Cider Works. Buffalo Bluegrass Barrel Aged Cider is available for purchase at Gates Circle Liquor for $14. Rating: 88/100.