Bastard Cider: Latest Cider Competition Results
I sent my 2007 Kingston Black Special Reserve off to the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition in early December and took home a silver medal. This event is the preeminent cider event in the US with exceptionally well-trained judges thanks in no small part to Gary Awdey's (and others) judge training sessions. Now I'm not greedy, and am very happy and honored to be recognized with a silver which I feel is a very respectable award. So when I get the judge sheets back I was interested in the comments behind the ranking. I don't have them in front of me but the gist was that it was a great british cider, true to style aside from one thing...apple aroma. According to the BJCP Cider Guidelines English Ciders should have "No overt apple character, but various flavors and esters that suggest apples. May have “smoky (bacon)” character from a combination of apple varieties and MLF. Some “Farmyard nose” may be present but must not dominate; mousiness is a serious fault. The common slight farmyard nose of an English West Country cider is the result of lactic acid bacteria, not a Brettanomyces contamination..."
This cider was fermented from 100% Kingston Black, reknowned as the premier British cider apple. Given that, and the management of the juice and fermentation, and the dryness of the finished cider, it seemed like the best (only?) category to put it in.
So the general comments stated that the cider was really good, but it was out-of-style because it has a nice apple aroma and flavor. This flavor was deliberately kept in their through cold fermentation and multiple racking, and I consider it a testament to my skill (hand pats self on back) to make a fruity, but not overly so, cider from this apple.
So the judges did their job correctly in ranking the cider based on the guidelines, and I feel the guidelines are correct in their definition of true English Cider. Does a fruit-forward cider made with English fruit therefore belong in another category? I would guess 'Common Cider" would fit the bill, but that is to be made from "...culinary/table apples, with wild or crab apples often used for acidity/tannin balance..."
I guess I'll just be happy with my admittedly good, award-winning, bastard of a Kinston Black cider.