[From the Winter 2017 Issue of Sip Northwest]

In a tale as nearly as old as time, cider has been aged in a barrel. In New England and Québec where North American cider was born, all cider ever knew was the inside of a barrel for fermentation, aging and transportation, before bottles, kegs and anything other than a mug were available vessels of consumption. Today, makers across the Pacific Northwest are embracing the traditional and historical aging method of barrel use with gusto.

Apple Outlaw Thompson Creek Heritage Barrel-Aged | 9.4% ABV | $17/750ml | Heritage, estate-grown, organic apples are featured in this ripe, golden blend that takes shelter in rye whiskey barrels for up to six months. White pepper, spice, vanilla and toffee mingle with the fruit and linger in the rich, tannic finish.

WildCraft Cider Works Pinot Noir Barrel-Aged Cherry | 7.6% ABV | $7/500ml | This resourceful producer ages tart cherry wine for five months in French and Hungarian oak Pinot Noir barrels and then adds it to a wild harvested, naturally fermented cider. Obvious cherry, subtle vanilla and brazen red apple fuse while moderate tannin joins in the mildly oaky finish.

Sea Cider Rumrunner Prohibition | 12.5% ABV | $14/750ml | Traditional apples are juiced by hand in a customary rack and cloth press, then fermented and aged in rum-glazed bourbon barrels for a minimum of six months. Molasses, rum and apple butter rim the glass while wood spices fill out the palate, with earth, acid and tannin.

Liberty Ciderworks Porter’s Perfection | 8.6% ABV | $17/750ml | Built around a cider apple heralded for its sharp juice and low astringency, this still, single varietal rendition sits in used Dry Fly whiskey barrels and delivers. Aromas of dry apple, toasted brioche and earth rise to the occasion and are met with crisp acid and structural tannin.

Blue Mountain Cider Oregonian | 6.4% ABV | $12/750ml | Gravenstein, Grimes Golden, Golden Russet, Jonagold and Winesap apples are pressed onsite at this estate and aged in Viognier barrels from the maker’s sister winery. Off-dry and apple-forward, pops of charred oak mix with the crack of acid and warmth of overripe apple.

Lockhorn Hard Cider Wine Barrel Reserve | 6.9% ABV | $7/16oz draft | This draft-only selection from the young Bozeman, Montana, cidery is a bone-dry cider aged in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The time in oak brings forward body from both the barrel and the fruit, with ripe apple, vanillin and notes of brambly fruit and herbs.