Bittersweet Freedom 2018
6.6%, 750mL bottle
Some apples are better than others.
3 years ago, we had the immense good fortune to stumble onto what has become our favourite apple. Having tried ciders from traditional European cider apples over the last few years, for us, nothing has topped the incredible character of the humble Hyslop.
Hyslop is a crabapple variety that originated in North America in the 19th century (around Boston likely). We only know of 3 trees in Ontario, and they’re extremely biennial: meaning they only bear fruit every other year.
With only 3 trees, Mother Nature gives us the smallest allotment you could imagine. And only once every two years.
For young cider makers like us, this means we might get 30 chances in a lifetime to work with this fruit...if we’re lucky. Assuming we don’t see any droughts, pest issues, or any number of other setbacks on the farm side of things.
Even though we discovered these trees back in 2016, this is only the second time we’ve gotten our hands on these crabapples.
Why are we so obsessed with Bittersweet Freedom?
- Its’ distinct tannin character, chalky in a way that is completely different from other apples and grapes. Most tannins (that we’ve experienced) in grape wines tend to be smoother, and almost fruitier, where this one is uniquely chalky. True European tannic apples are also more similar to grapes in their tannic profile. In our experience Hyslop stands alone in with it’s distinct mineral-like tannins.
- The gorgeous orange zest/marmalade flavours and aromas distinct to this fruit.
- The meaty animalistic note our native yeast add, working in harmony with the intensity of the fruit.
We’ve had a few people comment on it’s similarities to skin contact whites (aka orange wines). That combo of grippy tannin and citrus definitely gives off that vibe.
Bittersweet Freedom is the ultimate dinner sipper. The experience of drinking this with food is just sublime.
A note on tannins:
Tannin is a broad term which encompasses many different molecules. They aren’t just one thing at the molecular level, they are a complex group of different polymers. While much of the research into different tannins is ongoing, it seems to be generally accepted that longer chain tannins are more astringent (they have more of the drying sensation in your mouth). My best guess as to why the tannin experience of drinking this cider is so unique, is that Hyslop apples have been blessed with a high concentration of uniquely long chain tannins, unlike most grapes and other tannic apple varieties (at least, the ones we’ve come across).