Finnriver’s Fire Barrel Cider is more than homage to Washington Cider pioneer Drew Zimmerman. It’s an honest and spectacularly obsessive attempt to make the same Cider that Zimmerman at his Red Barn Cidery used to make to get people to think about cider as something beyond sweet and fizzy. This cider was made with apples grown on trees that were transplanted from Zimmerman’s farm to Finnriver’s orchard sixty miles away. The apple trees are planted in the same order and rows as they were on Zimmerman’s farm for pollination purposes. And the cider is made in the very same style, aged in bourbon barrels where it picks up that distinctive caramel/smokey character. But to begin with, the cider is beautiful. Amber color and bubbleless. The nose sports notes of cooked apple, caramel, smoke or charcoal and spicy mandarin orange notes. The palate feels the tannin from the bittersweet apples notable in this blend. No sparkle as noted before. The cider is dry or nearly dry and possesses a sharp texture. The flavors here are for those who like their liquid bold. The apple flavors, dominant as they are, seem reduced and thick. On the palate, the caramel turns to smoke and is reminiscent of Tilted Shed’s January Smoked Barbecue Cider. And again, we note lovely hints of orange on the finish. This would be a beautiful cider to serve next to a grilled flank steak or rib eye, pasta in a garlic sauce or Eggs Benedict made with a smokey bacon.
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