Ah Sea Cider... My first and only visit to Sea Cider so far was during the cidery tour of Vancouver Island we took during Peter Mitchell's 2008 Cider Class in Mount Vernon, WA. Their organic heirloom and cider apple orchard, the old English style farmhouse tasting room and cider house built new, the gorgeous view from the property looking down towards Washington's San Juan Islands. It is all very picturesque. Perfect I might say. Besides all that they make a really great cider too. Their whole line is robust and very flavorful.
When I visiting they were sold clean out of this very cider in the tasting room. We were informed that some was still lingering around at various beer and wine shops on Vancouver Island and mainland British Colombia. This bottle came to me nearly a year after my visit and for close to another year we have been sitting on this same bottle waiting for a great opportunity to taste, take notes and enjoy.
If you care to look I've got a number of pictures of Sea Cider's facility up in my Flickr account.
Sea Cider Rumrunner '07 Vintage
Somewhere along the way I guess I had forgotten this was a 14.2% cider. Considering ciders naturally ferment out to around 5-8% this is a mighty strong cider indeed. I don't recall them telling us how they reached that percentage nor does their website say, but for me it is hard to imagine the used Rum Barrel they age this cider in contributed 6-7% alcohol. Mysterious.
The Rumrunner '07 cider was a rich gold with a slight amber hue, fairly bright. The clarity was clear but not brilliant, but it was a couple years old mind you and had survived a car ride out to the ocean earlier that day. It was a nicely carbonated cider. An almost perfect level of bubble sensation and flavor accessibility.
Rumrunner's aroma was remarkably intense, warm, dark, very cidery and of a high quality; demonstrating it's woodiness combined with spicy notes of Rum (go figure), dried cherry, and apple of all things.
Sea Cider's Rumrunner has the same intensity in flavor as it does in it's aroma. Very intense, yet at the same time very balanced. We found to be sweet but not too sweet for the blend, it had a nice acidic edge that was just enough, letting Rumrunner's sweetness play the lead. However this cider had a terrific bitterness from the apple phenolics (tannins) and surely from the used oak rum barrels. The Rumrunner starts off surprisingly hot but assuredly and quickly melts away and shows a true earthiness and spice with accompanying flavors of raisin, rum (mysterious I know), leather, toffee, and even hints of clove in the finish.
Rumrunner '07 was complex, unique, and unlike any other cider I've had before. I'm not a light weight but I have to admit this cider is a scorcher has a serious kick. More like a port or dessert wine in strength and flavor intensity. At 14.25% it is also not for the faint of heart. You feel the warmth let's say. Perfect for fireside sipping on a cold Winter's night... Only if you don't have anywhere else to go for the evening.
Mouthfeel was just as pleasant as the rest. A slight astringency, moderate body and length and again off the charts in the balance department. A well blended friendly monster of a cider.
We thought a smaller bottle would have offered a different presentation more in line with ports and dessert wines, That undoubtedly would have changed our preconceived notions of what this cider would be like. Would I drink it again? Surely. It was not a taste you often experience in cider. So chock-full of flavor. I look forward to it but will be waiting for that cold Winter night, the fireplace, and nowhere else to go.