Hillbilly Vintage Ciders are always very good. A few years back I put that vintage in 2nd place on my Real Cider Reviews Best Ciders of 2014. In the years following, the quality has always been top shelf. Something different happened to a few of the 2017 vintage’s bottles. Blackberries! This is the story of the Hillbilly Vintage Blackberry 2018

A few months ago, at the 2018 Australian Cider Awards, I was given a bottle of the Vintage Blackberry by Shane McLaughlin, the cider maker of Hillbilly Cider. I have been given strict instructions that no matter what I thought about this cider I must give it a bad review. As Shane said “Those blackberries are too bloody hard to pick, I don’t want this one becoming popular”.

Hillbillly Vintage Blackberry 2017 cider review

The Blackberries are handpicked from the wild berry bushes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The blackberries are pressed in a small basket press before being added to the same juice that the regular edition vintage cider is made from. The regular and the Vintage Blackberry are both treated the same at this point, being aged in the bottle, bottle conditioned and only release when they are ready.

The Nose

Pouring the vintage blackberry makes a frothy head giving off a scent of sweet apple juice. The blackberries are clear and obvious. Going into this, I was expecting a yeasty apple and blackberry muffin, but this is much fresher more like a fresh pavlova than some baked treats.

The Taste

So very fruity, luxurious and as soft and round as a ball of custard. The acid is just right at cutting through the mild sweetness. It’s warm and inviting yet summery and fresh. The Vintage Blackberry has a little bit of toasty yeast poking the fruity tones. There is just a little bit of Christmas spices that warms the glass. The finish is pretty sharp but that is when the apples shine through. It’s like a sparkling rosé for the cool kids.

Final Thoughts on the Vintage Blackberry 2018 Cider

Cider makers can’t tell me what to write. If a cider is bad, I’ll call it bad. Good ciders deserve praise and the Vintage Blackberry 2018 certainly deserves praise.

As for pairing ideas I wish I had a second bottle of this for Christmas afternoon to sip with my wife’s locally world-famous summer berry pavlova.

Merry Christmas everyone.

ProductVintage Blackberry 2018 Cider
CompanyHillbilly
SweetnessMedium Dry
Alc/Vol8%
Websitehillbillycider.com.au
Country of OriginAustralia
RegionBilpin, Blue Mountains, New South Wales

Sample supplied