I got a press release from Crispin Ciders a few weeks ago. I'm not a fan of most of what gets sold as "hard cider" in the U.S.; it's...well, I already said all of that here, no need to repeat (thanks, Tim Berners-Lee). So when they said things like "dry vs. sweet, and crisp not 'sticky' on the palate," they had my attention. I e-mailed back and asked how they made their cider. They sent me a sampler of five bottles (two Brut, two Original, and one Light) and some details.
Crispin's made from apple juice (not from concentrate), fermented with red wine yeast (not sure why that's a good thing, but...), and without added sugar, color, preservatives, or any alcohol not from apple juice. Well, we're off to a good start, then, although it did weird me out a bit that they insisted that it be enjoyed over ice; it's even the name of their website: www.crispinoverice.com.
I sat the bottles out on the deck, as you see, figuring I might as well get some benefit out of our cold wave (it was 2.5 F last night, which is cold enough for this area). I filled the Crispin glass they'd sent (one of those 'mini-hefe' glasses, nice enough) with ice cubes, and poured in a bottle of the Brut, which was the one I was interested in. It was obviously cold enough out on the deck: the cider slushed up as it hit the ice. It was quite bright (once it warmed up a bit), a fairly pale golden color, and smelled like fresh, tart apples. The taste was not sloppy sweet at all, but tart, full of apple flavor, and -- indeed -- crisp, with a good release, even a bit of tannin.
It was not particularly complex, though, like an Aspall or Dupont, and that's where I found it somewhat lacking. It's a much better drink than the typical cloyingly sweet ciders you get in bars the U.S. (and yes, I'm talking about the usual Woodchuck, and Ace, and Strongbow), but it still seems focused on the refreshment angle, rather than the flavor angle. At least, that's how it seems to me; maybe I'm looking for too much. So, an option, perhaps, but not a go-to beverage. I'll be giving the Original a shot soon, and see how that goes.