Good cider depends on the right balance among sweet, tart and bitter apples. Good eating apples are not necessarily good cider apples.

Most Americans will only experience some variant of the ‘Delicious’ apple in their lives, and few taste any of the scores of other cultivars available. These overlooked apples aren’t commonly eaten for many reasons: acidity, bitterness, texture or appearance. But the same qualities that might keep an apple off your grocer’s shelf can make it the perfect ingredient for a fine cider.

That’s why the first step in making our ciders is choosing the right blend of the best quality apples. Selecting from among the many types of apples available to us here in Virginia’s piedmont is the foundation of our cidermaking.

“The apple best suited for cider and brandy is what we would call a spitter: a fruit so bitter and tannic that one’s first instinct is to spit it out and look around for something sweet to coat the tongue—a root beer, a cupcake, anything. Imagine biting into a soft green walnut, an unripe persimmon, or a handful of pencil shavings. That’s a spitter at its worst.”

—Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist