We enjoy drinking hard cider, and if you can combine hard cider with bourbon, even better. Sonoma Cider makes certified organic hard ciders in micro batches, so you know they put a great deal of care into each bottle. The owners of Sonoma Cider are both huge bourbon lovers, too, so we have something in common. Even so, we aren’t afraid to admit we were skeptical about a bourbon-flavored hard cider.
At only 6% ABV, this cider reflects the beauty of the product type: low alcohol, crisp, and clean and perfect for sipping over the long haul in warm weather. Upon first taste, you immediately detect apples (rightly so!). It is slightly sweet with a lovely light carbonation. The next flavor is pretty yeasty and pretty strong. It didn’t blend in as smoothly as we would have liked. The unique part about this cider is its finish. It opens up into a caramel-and-grain roundness with a hint of vanilla and smoke.
Those familiar flavors are due to an organic bourbon flavor that is a proprietary ingredient of Sonoma Cider. We have no idea what is in this ingredient mix, but we can report that the cider does, in fact, have a flavor reminiscent of bourbon. If this is appealing to you in a cider, definitely give this product a try. If you’d rather have your cider be cider and your bourbon be bourbon, we don’t blame you for that either.
*Even though this nightcap was on Sonoma Cider’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
We love hard ciders but rarely find the opportunity to feature them here because they have nothing to do with bourbon. The folks at Crispin must have felt our pain because they released a bourbon barrel-aged blended hard cider. Seeing the words cider, bourbon, and honey on one label was practically swoon-inducing.
The production of the cider is complicated, so we’ll let Crispin explain: “Blended using four unique apple-wines aged in both rye and bourbon American whiskey barrels. Apple-wines fermented with: Irish Stout yeast, Belgian Trappist yeast, Sake yeast, and our original Colfax Classic. The final blend is finished with Tupelo honey aged in bourbon barrels.”
The aroma of the cider is fresh and sweet with a definite whiskey scent. We felt it was a touch under carbonated, but that is really our only complaint. It has a slight sourness that is complemented by the honey. Given that ciders tend to be sweet anyway, we were concerned that the addition of honey would make this one too sweet, but that was not the case at all. This cider is crisp, refreshing, and actually tastes a bit like bourbon! The whiskey flavors come in the transition to the aftertaste.
At 6.9% ABV, this is a great afternoon sipper, though it is more expensive than your average cider. We think this unique product more than warrants the cost (which was $5.95 per 12-ounce bottle in our area).
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Apple season is early in New England, and I am thrilled. We had a friend visiting this weekend, which seemed like just the right opportunity to get started on fall baking. The recipe I found for this bread pudding was published by a bourbon trade magazine. I see no use in mincing words here, so I’ll go ahead and say that the recipe couldn’t have been written by anyone who actually bakes, so I have revised it and am posting my own version.
Bourbon Apple Bread Pudding
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. bourbon
¼ cup butter
½ loaf of crusty bread
Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter eight six-ounce ramekins and set aside. Mix together brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the apples with the bourbon and the mixture of sugar and spices for about five to seven minutes, or until the liquid turns syrupy and the apples have softened somewhat, but are not mushy. Slice the bread into small cubes (about one inch square). In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together. Add the apple mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the bread to the bowl and mix, making sure all of the bread is submerged and well incorporated. Fill the ramekins with the bread pudding and bake for 20 minutes or until the pudding is set and the top is lightly browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
This bread pudding is very good warm and is also excellent straight from the fridge the next day. The texture is more like sponge cake when it’s cold, which I happen to like. We used Virginia Gentleman bourbon because its caramel sweetness would contribute a welcome note to this dessert. The apples add a nice texture and sweetness.
Speaking of apples, we found pink apples at a local farm! A history of the Pink Pearl apple and its creator can be found here. We didn’t know how this variety would turn out when baked, so we just used one to add some fun color to the bread pudding.
Last week we jarred up our apple-vanilla bourbon to let it steep for the week. We tasted it after about three days and decided it needed a lot more time. At that point, the apples hadn’t affected the bourbon flavor at all, while the vanilla smothered everything. We let it sit another three days, hoping the apples would grab hold. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
The final product is a pleasant infusion. We used Berkshire Bourbon so we could end up with a super New Englandy product. I could imagine apple-vanilla bourbon as a fine addition to some Autumn orchard excursions. There’s an apple tartness followed by the vanilla smoothness to the flavor, all without completely masking the bourbon’s flavor.
That being said, this probably isn’t something we’re likely to drink straight. We’re more interested in how we can use it in cocktails. Of course we’ll be posting those results here as well.
As you can see, we repurposed an empty Hudson Four Grain Bourbon bottle to store this new creation in. Its label washed off easily and the cork is still sealing well. It looks like the multi-purpose aspect of these bottles is helping to offset the expense of the Hudson bourbon.
Another potentially fun situation we have on our hands is we now have a mason jar full of apples that have been soaking in bourbon for a week. There has to be something fun we could make with them, right?
Today’s post will be brief because we’re not exactly sure what we’ve made yet. We’ll find out in about a week or so. We’ve been curious about this DIY Apple-Vanilla Bourbon for awhile, and, since it’s really simple, we decided to give it a try. Here’s what you need:
1 cup bourbon
1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Put apple and vanilla bean into a container, add bourbon, seal, and shake. Let it steep for 5 to 7 days. Strain through cheesecloth and store.
So, we’ll see this little guy in about a week.