It’s that time of the year when we all look back at the year that was. For many of us, we will remember 2016 as the year the Grim reaper signed up to IMDB and started working his way through everyone’s favourite personalities. Meanwhile, the political landscape was …. like a pair of rubber chopsticks, just a bad idea.
Thank goodness we have cider, at the very least it provided us with a little bit of tasty escapism. So, what were the Best Ciders Of 2016?
The US seem to be opening a new cidery every time I turn around. They are pushing the envelope as to what a cider can be with experiments with hops, berries and even pineapples. Sometimes they may be going too far into fruit wines. It will be interesting to see if the market there splits into “real ciders” and “fruit wines”. Europe is beginning to modernise while we are rediscovering their heritage. Sassy Cider and Ramborn have taken the best of the old world and twisted it for modern palettes.
I had the pleasure of travelling in the UK earlier in the year. I attended a CAMRA event. The ciders there were very rustic, the tastes there were unlike anything else. It was a great chance to try so many single variety ciders.
Best International Cider: Ramborn CM Blend
This year Luxembourg first craft cider hit the market. Combining modern styles with old-fashioned local apple varieties from rescued orchards make for a super juicy, interesting little bottle of cider. While writing about it I was scared I would drink it all before I could take my notes. Without knowing much about the country, this could be the best reason to visit Luxembourg. – Read the Full Review Here
Closer to home, the Australian cider market had a fantastic 2016. There is more variety and quality on the shelves of speciality bottle shops as well as the chain retailers, except for BWS, who still have room to improve. The annual Australian Cider Awards had more entries than ever before. 2016 has seen the ciders become more grown up. More ciders are tending to the drier end of the spectrum. The ciders have more depth from more complex production methods like barrel ageing and experiments with yeasts. Changes in taxation laws will make it easier for cider makers to support Aussie apple growers. For years Aussie cider makers have been restricted by the apples available to them. Now they have access to small quantities of heritage cider varieties. The early results are very exciting. I feel like this is the beginning of some ciders being treated like fine wines rather quality beers.
Best Ciders of 2016
Honourable Mention: Batlow Saison Cider. This was a limited release for the GABS festival. I rated it very highly on Untapped. With any luck, it will be bottled in 2017 and I will be able to give you a full review.
Number 3. Willie Smiths 18 Varieties.
This scooped the pool at the Australian Cider Awards in 2015. It is a great example of a cider house toiling away with eating apples then getting an explosion of flavour when their English and French cider apple tree’s start producing apples. – Read the Full Review Here
Number 2. Henry of Harcourt Kingston Black ’15.
Henry’s say they make cider for grown-ups. If the 2015 vintage Kingston Black was a red wine, it would tick all the boxes that make a red wine valuable and sought after. It works so well with so many different foods from roast pork to curries. If I owned a fine dining restaurant I would be banging on Henry or Harcourt’s door so I could have this on my wine list. – Read the Full Review Here
Number 1 Best Cider of 2016: Spreyton Cidermaker’s Select Vintage 2016
This may seem like a bit of a left field choice but 2016 is the year that the Aussie cider industry grew up. No other cider company personifies this growth as well as Spreyton. A few years back Spreyton were making respectable, light, fruity, ciders. Today the Cidermaker’s Select Vintage 2016 is rich, complex and full of intrigue. It is interesting enough to be served in place of a champagne, yet enough guts to be matched with food. – Read the Full Review Here
What have been your favourites ciders of 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for your support and readership in 2016. With the 2017 apples on the tree right now there is a lot to be excited about.