This will not be news to most of you, but the Colorado booze scene is the best. I was getting to a point where I thought I would struggle to find cider brewers in Colorado that I hadn’t yet reviewed in some capacity, and instead I’d slog through each variety that the big few Colorado cider-makers create. Don’t get me wrong: The big, big few make some damn good ciders. So working my way through the varieties I’ve not yet tried would be a pleasant enough task. But when I come across a cider I’ve never heard of I get super stoked. I had never heard of Snow Capped Cider before and had to look twice to make sure it was from these parts. Indeed, “Colorado Grown” is their motto and the producers source everything for their ciders seasonally and from their own apple farms.
Snow Capped Cider is the apple-based arm of Williams Cellars, which shows that the trend for Colorado winemakers to move into the cider space is growing (this is also how I discovered Infinite Monkey Theorem), though it seems like they produce nearly as many cider varieties as they do wine. Just in the one liquor store I visited, I saw three different flavor combinations, with another four or five listed on their website. I had a hard time choosing which one of these new ciders to sample this time around, but ultimately the Lavender Mint won out as something unique; I’ve never seen mint be added to a cider before, so the concept was intriguing.
Lavender Mint: The Basics
Cidery: Snow Capped Cider (Cedaredge, CO)
Style: Dry, with Mint and Lavender
Lavender Mint: The Details
Pop the top, take a whiff. Now take another whiff. And another. This is one of those ciders that seems to change its aroma profile at every deep breath. The first sniff for me was full of fresh apples that reminded me of spring time. This didn’t feel super appropriate as I am sitting at 9000 feet altitude waiting for a snow storm to roll through the little mountain house I rented for the weekend. Still, that freshness was very light and super pleasant. I handed the bottle over to a friend to take a smell and she reported that it smelled like iron. I took the bottle back and indeed. Iron. Then other smells are filled with the spearmint that is blended into the cider, which brings the smell dangerously close to soap. Still, other sips pick up aromas of star anise, which also most likely comes from the minty undertones.
The cider itself is a really lovely honey color, with lots of bubbles in the glass, though a surprisingly smooth texture when you finally take a sip. The flavors in this cider are fascinating. That’s really the best word I can use to describe it. I think perhaps because mint is so unique as an additive to cider, but it brings about some flavor profiles that you would never see in a straight-lavender cider. The spearmint is definitely forward and present at the top of the mouth, and then the lavender bitterness comes through at the end of the sip and the aftertaste. I’ll be honest with you though: I did not really care for the first four or five sips of this cider. The mint and lavender came together to taste bitter and soapy, rather than the fresh, floral notes that I’m sure the brewers were going for. However, as my mouth got used to the flavor combination, the bitterness settled down, and it became quite refreshing. I wouldn’t say that I drank this cider super quickly, but those refreshing floral notes definitely came through as it warmed in my glass. However, the finish was still a lot stronger than I typically prefer. It almost felt heavy in the back of my throat. That would be my biggest complaint.
This cider was weird. If you’re looking for something new and different, I’d recommend giving it a try, but to be honest, I don’t really think the mint worked the way that it was meant to. Perhaps if there was less of it, it would do its job to bring out some of the nice floral notes that the apples and lavender bring to the table, but wouldn’t overwhelm the senses with soapy notes and a heavy, less-than-ideal finish. That said, while settling into this cider took longer than I would like, it really was a unique, new, and exciting experience. I would absolutely love to see what else is coming from Snow Capped Ciders, as some of their other varieties sound truly divine.