Late summer is one of my favorite times of the year. The days are still hot, but every afternoon, a rush of thick gray clouds roll through, drop 15 or 20 minutes of lightning, thunder, and rain, and then roll away. The cicadas are buzzing, the air smells sweet, and the night time air has a hint of chill that signals autumn’s imminent arrival. Also, the peaches ripen! Palisade Peach stands pop up at every gas station, country road crossing, and farmer’s market. And if you’re new to Colorado, then you might not know that the Western Slope has just about the best peaches you can imagine (eat your heart out, Georgia!). There are few things as satisfying as biting into a giant ripe peach, feeling the juice explode into your mouth, and drip down your chin. It’s like the definition of childhood summers.
So when I was visiting a new liquor store and finally (finally!) found a place that stocks Talbott’s Cider Co – a Western Slope cidery who is shockingly difficult to find here on the Front Range – I had more than one thing to be excited about. Of course, I’m glad to finally find some of this cider to drink and write about. But Talbott’s is based in Palisade, and while they had a number of cider varieties to choose from, I knew there was no way I could pass up the peach cider. If these guys can’t make an excellent peach cider surrounded by the best peaches in the country, no one can.
Summer Sunset: The Basics
Cidery: Talbott’s Cider Co (Palisade, CO)
Style: Peach Cider
Summer Sunset: The Details
I popped the can and was actually super surprised at how…not peachy this cider smelled. Instead, it came to my nose like a fairly straightforward dry cider, appley and earthy and only slightly sweet. If you take a deep breath at the top of the can, you can detect the slight tinge of peaches underneath the apple, but it is slight. Another surprise: the cider pours a very, very pale champagne color, with a lot of carbonation and a thick head that, like you would expect for a cider, dissipated quickly. For a cider that has added peaches to it, I was certainly expecting more of an orange glow to the cider – but expectations are meant to be broken, I suppose.
A third surprise: the first sip was dry, and while you can definitely taste the peach, it is not as much the star as I thought it might be. Instead, the peach marries extremely well with the apples, so you never forget that what you are drinking, first and foremost, is apple cider. This was actually pretty refreshing. I find that a lot of ciders that are flavored with an additional fruit let that take over the entire flavor profile, forgetting the apples entirely. Not so with the Summer Sunset. Both fruits share your taste buds, giving equal time and letting you taste both wonderful fruits that let this drink come to life. Additionally, while this cider has a bit more sugar than some of Talbotts’ other varieties, it still comes off as very dry, which is another hard thing to accomplish when adding such a sweet fruit to the cider. It made this drink incredibly sessionable – this 16oz can went down really fast – and it was so incredibly refreshing. I want to keep crushing these cans late into the night, but, you guys, it’s a school night and I’m a responsible adult.
I love this cider. It did not deliver on the peaches as much as I thought it was going to, and that was perfectly okay with me. Instead, I got a well-balanced, nicely dry, crushable cider that totally embodies the name it was given. The can instructs the drinker to “Find a rocker on a porch. Look west. Soak it in. Let your taste buds dance into the night.” I really can’t think of more accurate directions for how to enjoy this cider. It will compliment any bbq, campfire, or relaxing back yard chill sesh your summer brings you to. If you are lucky enough to find a liquor store or bar that carries Talbott’s, do yourself a favor and seize the opportunity. The Summer Sunset is the summer seasonal, so there isn’t much time to get your hands on it this season. But I am stoked to try their other varieties and let my taste buds dance through the night, into the next morning, and all the way through winter.