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Eden Puck Ice Cider 2012

Two ciders, both alike in dignity,

From fair Vermont, where arctic winter bites

And chills the air with such voracious cold,

That apples, lately pressed, do freeze themselves.

From these all-natural blocks of frozen juice

A slowly-dripping liquor newly seeps,

Far sweeter yet than that which flowed first forth

When apples, fully ripe, were ground and crushed.

For all-diluting water stays behind

As from the block melts acid, sugar, must.

The ice discarded and this potion gleaned

Now yeasts begin to do their hungry work

In turning juice to cider and upon

The sugars happily they feast so deep

That alcohol springs forth full ten per cent.

And yet such sweetness in this juice is locked,

So richly concentrated from the ice

(And from the juice itself for these were not

Just any apples, meek and underripe,

But mighty Ashmead’s Kernel, picked by hand

And sorted such that only best remained)

That valiant yeasts are thwarted by their feast

And, being sated, finish ferment’s work

When still much sugar in the drink is left.

This mighty thing, this cider sprung from ice,

Still far from readiness to drink remains;

For Ashmead’s Kernel (an old Gloucester fruit)

Has acid in its veins so vicious-sharp

As, drinking in this concentrated state,

Would so repel the tongue and sting the gums,

That lemons would look mild and dentists all

Would rub their hands and hear their wallets creak.

Instead, to barrel is our ichor sent,

No humble cask, but one prepared in France

By cunning coopers for to hold their wine.

(That country’s oak being so fine of its grain

That sawing will not work – it must be split –

And so its flavours less vanillin are

Than coarser-grainéd oak of USA.)

Within this special cask the cider sleeps,

Not for a usual rest of only months

But eight long years. And in its oaken dream

Do acids soften, flavours slowly steal

From sides of cask staves adding toast and spice

To taste of apple, and does barrel breathe

That, all unseen, will particles of air

Steal in and lightly kiss the sleeping juice

To soften acid more. Then, breathing out,

Do tiny drops of cider – fine as dust –

Evaporate away, as like ‘twere burglary

By hidden angels drinking from the cask.

Eight years being spent, the cider fully aged,

Transformed to something far from what was pressed,

Its makers, gallant Eden, drew it forth

And bottled it in vessels half the size

As those which hold their drier apple drinks.

And on their labels printed they the names

Of folk from Shakespeare, bard of Stratford fame

(Which tenuous link and for no other cause

Inspired the writing of this piece in verse).

The first of those creations was Queen Mab,

Appraised here in the depths of January

When Eden’s Eleanor had leant her voice

And insights to our column – then on Malt.

Such wondrous flavour did that cider yield

That I declared it first and best of all

The many hundreds that I’ve here reviewed.

And now to privileged glass the vintage comes

That followed after, though again was made

In just the way as I’ve described above.

This heir to Mab was named for Shakespeare’s Puck,

That impish spirit who confusion sows

When lovers flee to wood in Summer Night,

And seeks a rare and precious-juicéd flower

As tasked by Oberon. That rarity

Upon this cider has bestowed its touch,

For only to these trans-Atlantic shores

Were four-and-twenty bottles lately sent;

Brought here by re:stalk, sold from Aeble shop

(Who, though their website finished isn’t yet

Deliver from your e-mail order straight)

And some from ever-worthy Cat in th’Glass.

Each one was priced at thirty English pounds

(a tenner less than what was asked for Mab)

And in all haste I swiftly purchased two.

The first to hide away for years to come,

The second that I here and now review.

Eden Puck Ice Cider 2012 – review

How I served: But half an hour refridgéd

Appearance: Deeply walnut-brown and still.

On the nose: I smell Queen Mab returning.

Aromas broad and vast; of such rare weight

That ‘ere the cork from bottle neck was drawn,

By perfumes richly-hued were nostrils met,

Filling them with such luxurious notes

As lend their breath to pen. Here did I find

Dark caramels, figs, walnuts crushed and chopped

As ‘twere the meeting place for apple tart

And sherry made from Pedro Ximenez.

And all amidst these notes did weave the tones

Of barrel – sweet and sav’ry in its spice.

Again, ‘twas very like Queen Mab’s return;

A nose to make a cider writer swoon.

In the mouth: A shock is here presenting.

No sooner had I tipped the glass to lips

Than zingy, zesty, thrilling acid comes,

Eight years in wait but still as fresh today

As many ciders of an eighth its age.

All through the sugars toothsome acid cut

Lending such freshness to viscosity

That mighty sweetness never dares to cloy.

The flavours greatly followed from the nose

With muscovado, darkest cherries dried,

Pure apple compote and more walnuts chopped.

Were I to taste this next to Royal Mab

I’d wager Puck a smidge the lighter drink,

But who can say without comparison.

In either case, this cider is sublime –

On UK shelves it has no current match.

In a nutshell: All that I had hoped for.

Conclusions

A worthy follower to good Queen Mab,

And such a thing as can’t be found elsewhere

In all the land – eight years of patient age

Have pushed this to a point beyond the norm

Of that which younger ice ciders can reach.

My second bottle will be closely kept;

I would I had a third. To you I urge

You buy it if you find it still on shelves.

Another champion from Eden sprung.

With which assessment now my piece is done

Good reader – thanks for getting here with me.

Next time we’ll back to prose, though verse was fun.

Lord what fools these cider reviewers be.

Exeunt.

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In addition to Cider Review I co-edit Graftwood Magazine and contribute to other drinks sites and magazines including Full Juice, Distilled and Burum Collective. I share my home with several hundred bottles, one geophysicist and a small fluffy whirlwind called Nutmeg. CiderReviewAdam on Twitter and Instagram.

4 Comments

    • Cheers Chris!
      (Felt more like sheer madness when writing it, mind.)
      Hope all’s well your end.
      Adam

      Like

      • ChrisM says

        Hah I bet – how long did it take?

        Good (if a tad warm…) here thanks – how’s the production going?

        Like

      • A good hour and a half I think! (Probably helped that with the show I’m pretty much thinking ten syllables at a time at the moment.)
        Yes, similarly warm down here. Melting in the costume every night – especially in the fight scenes!

        Liked by 1 person

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