Happy Humpday, everyone. We’re halfway through the week, and one day closer to the official start of winter. Whether that makes you jubilant or weep into your morning coffee, I think we can all agree that a little liquid warmth will do the body good. Today’s choice is Woodchuck’s Smoked Apple Cider – made with actual smoked apples. I love a tasty hard apple cider, and smoked anything is usually great this time of year, so I’m excited to see how the love child of the two turns out. Let’s go!
The initial smell is … different, for sure. A sweet base of apples starts out the aroma, but then a heavy cloud of smokehouse smoke rolls in, mingling somewhat with the apples, but mostly just obscuring everything until it’s just smoke. There is a slight hint of sweetness that manages to poke through the smokey fumes now and then, but it’s very subdued. The aroma as a whole is similar to that of smoked Gouda. I have no idea if that’s good or bad, but it’s definitely something. I’ll definitely need to drink in order to figure this one out.
Ok, this is just crazy. Sweet and tart apples show up first, tasting great and making me think of good times. Then, the smoke shows up and immerses everything into chaos. It’s not a “bad” taste, but the smoke is so intense, it basically smothers the tongue. And, it’s not a campfire smoke, or tobacco smoke. It’s pure, smoked meat smoke. With the apple sweetness, it does become sweet smoke, but smoke none the less. After a few minutes, the smokiness seems to subdue a bit. It’s still there, without a doubt, but the flavors seem to become more balanced with each other, with the apple having a stronger presence in the hazy midst of smoke (notice how many times I say “smoke”? That about sums everything up). I’m not ready to say I dislike it yet. I’ll need to taste it from a glass first.
Poured out, the aromas become super subdued and much more co-mingled. Faint notes of smoke-laced apples rise out of the glass, sweet and tart with an almost foreboding lack of anything intense. Visually, it’s a crystal clear reddish-brown with a constant wreath of bubbles traveling up the sides of the glass.
Now, for the moment of truth. The post-pour flavors are… the same as the bottle. The same sweet apple tartness, the same huge smoke flavor, the same sweet smoke amalgamation. The one difference is that the smoke fades quicker than it did in the bottle. But that doesn’t save this cider. I just can’t bring myself to like it. Each taste makes we want the regular apple to drop kick the smoke out of the way. If it wasn’t so intensely smoky, I think I would thoroughly enjoy it, especially if it had some added fall/winter spices. But as it is, it’s really just a gimmicky experiment that falls short of tasty.
Woodchuck’s Smoked Apple cider is definitely unlike anything you’ve probably had before, unless you happen to love smokehouse apples. Hints of their apple cider manage to make an appearance here and there, but the majority of the flavor is obscured by a thick plume of smoke. Smoke, smoke, smoke. I can’t say it enough. However, I will end with this bit of information: two of the four people I asked to try this loved it at first (the other two shared my sentiments). But, even those two saviors became overwhelmed shortly after starting.
So, there you have it. I can’t really recommend this for drinking, unless you love sweet smokehouse smoke. But, I could see someone using this as a marinade for a pork roast, or maybe a base to boil some brats. Smoke and apple always go good with pork. But, as a cider, it’s safe to avoid this one. Woodchuck’s Smoked Apple Cider earns a D.
Lasting Strength: 6/10
Overall: 6.4/10 D
Winter Warmer Bonus: 2/10