As many of you probably already know, or may recall from our New England Cider Grown article, there is a difference between “table grown” and “cider grown” apples. While many of the apples that we eat are often sweet, crisp, or maybe sometimes even a bit tart, “cider grown” apples are usually much more bitter and acidic, making them highly unappetizing when eaten on their own, however, simply delicious when pressed and fermented into hard cider. Additionally, some of these “cider grown” apples have become very rare and difficult to come by over the years, making these blends of cider all the more unique and appealing. Stormalong Cider in Sherborn, Ma has dedicated a series of ciders just to these apple varieties. They have been committed to finding and harvesting these rare apples for your own enjoyment in their Rare Apple Series.

Boston Heirloom

First up in the series is Stormalong’s Boston Heirloom Cider. I actually first tried this cider on Marathon Monday in honor of all of the amazing athletes who ran their hearts out on that day, while I sat on my couch hiding from the rain, enjoying some craft cider.

Boston Heirloom is made with two apple varieties that are native to Boston, 50% Roxbury Russet and 50% Baldwin apples. These varietals were popular in the area pre-prohibition era. First bred in the Boston-area in the mid-1700’s, these varietals are some of the oldest in our country! This cider is an ode to the times and the city’s two beloved apple varieties. It is relatively carbonated on the pour and deep golden-yellow in color. Upon wafting it, there isn’t much of a noticeable smell but is reminiscent of acidic, tannic apples.

During my first sip of Boston Heirloom from the glass, it was apparent that this cider was on the drier side and had some strong acidity to it. There was not much sweetness on the palate, but rather some tart and citric tones. Because these apples are rare, this cider is certainly unique. The United States cider industry as of recently tends to lean toward the sweeter side, which is definitely not the case with this cider. The acidity and tannins give it the feel of a European-style cider, with the knowledge that the apples were sourced right from our own backyards. Boston Heirloom is 7.5% ABV, making it stronger than the average cider in the US as well.

Kingston Black

The next cider in Stormalong’s Rare Apple Series is the Kingston Black. This cider is a single-varietal cider made entirely from, well, Kingston Black apples. This varietal is native to the UK, and is grown very sparsely in the United States. These apples are notoriously fussy to grow, which is likely what caused them to become so rare. They get their name from the deep red hue their skins possess. These apples are known for containing the three elements which make up a balanced cider: tannins, acidity, and sugar.

The cider itself is also generously carbonated and golden yellow in color. It smells rather tannic and acidic, as one would expect from these apples, but remains semi-smooth and crisp through the sip, followed by a burst of pungent tannins. The flavors in this blend are very dense and fruit-forward, making this more of a slow sipping cider than an easy drinker. Although Kingston Black apples possess the sugar necessary to create a perfectly fermented cider, after the fermentation process there is not much left in the form of sweetness. Kingston Black measures in at 7.9% ABV, even higher than its rare counterpart.