Today was almost certainly the last day of pressing this season. It's been hard work, but gratifyingly we've managed to make more cider than ever before, around 400 gallons in total.
Today's pressing session was quite significant as we were making a new batch of our Welland Valley Special, the cider we make from local apples and which we usually sell at the Welland Valley Beer Festival in June. The picture above gives a good indication of the mix of apples which have gone into this year's batch, around 8 different varieties in all. The dessert apples which make up the bulk of this blend were very full flavoured late varieties, including some small, yellow, and very sweet apples from Rockingham, a sack full of huge russeted pippins from up the road in Cottingham, and the deep purpley red apples in the picture which had a wonderfully rich, slightly bitter, sweetness. These apples came from an old orchard on the Rockingham Castle estate which contains at least eight different varieties of apple and pear alone. If only we know what they were! The specific gravity of the juice is 1047, which should give a reasonable level of alcohol, and I think this blend will produce a very good cider.
We used some of the juice from todays pressing to top up the earlier batches of cider, particularly important where the fermentation had all but finished. In the event I slightly overfilled one of the tubs and had to remove a little so that it wouldn't overflow into the airlock. This gave me an opportunity to sample some of the cider we pressed in September, which was made from a blend of organic dessert apples.
The cider is obviously very young and still quite cloudy. It's quite hard to evaluate the aroma at the moment, as the yeast has not settled sufficiently and it still dominates the nose. Other than that it shows great promise. The flavour is sharp, but pleasantly so, and there's quite a bit of fruitiness despite the cider being quite dry. The first taste is a little bit too full-on to really enjoy, but after a few sips it starts to taste remarkably drinkable. Not bad for a cider made only a month ago, and I'm confident this will mellow nicely for early Summer drinking.