Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider Review
Pros:- Distinctive and different, great complexity, all natural quality
Cons:- Not for everyone
A great Normandy style cider handcrafted to traditional styles with modern techniques.
Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle of Australia. It’s also the butt of many a joke, none of which should be repeated here. What they do have however is clean air, the best soil and pure water. A great start to growing some of the best apples, which of course is a great start to making some great apple cider. The Willie Smith apple farm is situated in the Huon Valley, about 35 kilometres south of the capital, Hobart. Here William Smith himself planted the first apple tree in 1888. It is from these plants that the family still picks its fruit – some of which for the organic apple cider we’re looking at today.
How it’s made
The Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider is made in a Normandy style – a much more tannic style cider that’s different from some of the light, crisp varieties on sale. French styled ciders are generally a much ‘fuller’ cider, with a moderate carbonation and layers of complexity generally found in wine or craft beer.
Willie Smith’s have re-created this painstakingly starting by handpicking their fruit. I’m definitely not envying that job. The fruit is then pressed at the orchard, and interestingly left to oxidise for 48 hours. Willie Smith’s tell me as well as colour, this also gives a more rounded flavour. The juice is then fermented in stainless steel vats with two strains of French white wine yeast for that authentic Gaelic taste.
Post fermentation is where it gets interesting. Willie Smith’s go a few steps further and separate the cider into two portions. One is matured for up to 6 months in new French Oak, while the other portion is left to a process known as malo-lactic fermentation. Sounds complex, but its essentially the process of converting the sharp malic acid to lactic acid. This brings a much softer cider. The oak adds extra complexity and flavour that you won’t find in other ciders. Finally the cider is blended, along with some fresh juice to create the final product and matured for another two months.
How’s it taste?
Willie Smiths have set out to make a hand crafted, premium cider that stands out from the mainstream and they undoubtedly have succeeded. That said, in doing so, the Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider is not for everyone.
Pouring from the bottle, the cider is golden, light and cloudy with hints of sediment to remind you or the all natural organic origins of the cider. Carbonation is very light, with a surprisingly light initial mouth feel. Acidity is restrained, with fresh juicy apple flavours, and is well balanced by a back palate oak and a clean finish. At surprising 5.4% alcohol by volume, it sits in the higher range, but I didn’t detect any
The Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider is a new benchmark in a true farmhouse made quality, premium cider. They’ve nailed the French style, but in doing so have created something that’s still a relatively new style and concept in Australia. Fans of the style and lovers of something new will love it though, in what is a fantastic, proper apple cider. Check it out today – find where you can get Willie Smiths here.
*Thanks to Willie Smiths for providing their Organic Apple Cider for review. Photos by Ali Nasseri.