Tasting Jackpot Dry Apple Cider
After a brief hiatus, we’re back with our #PourOfTheWeek series!
This week we’re featuring something a little foreign to us…craft cider. It’s not craft beer. It’s not wine. It’s a neat little place between the two (at least in my mind) that’s gaining some serious momentum in B.C.
Windfall is a new Vancouver-based cider company founded by the husband and wife duo of Jeff and Nathaly Nairn. After meeting the two over a glass of their ‘Jackpot’ Dry Craft Cider I quickly realized their passion and dedication to cider-making.
During our chat, I learned a heck of a lot about cider. For example, Jeff explained that Windfall is considered a commercial cider-maker as they don’t own an orchard or produce their own apples. This doesn’t make them any less “craft”, though. It does, however, put pressure on them to source a significant amount of apples, sometimes through creative methods. For their small batch “Lost and Found” cider that will be released in March 2019, the Windfall team foraged apples from all over East Vancouver.
For their Jackpot Dry Craft Cider recipe, they use four thousand pounds of apples from twelve different varieties to make one thousand litres of oh-so-delicious juice.
You’re probably wondering, “where the heck are they fermenting all that sweet apple juice?” Well, after lengthy negotiations on a number of potential facilities, Jeff and Nathaly realized that leasing space at an established brewery, specifically Central City Brewing in Surrey, was a necessary route to go. Similar to many young craft breweries in the Lower Mainland, the cost for Windfall to build their own facility was too steep, not to mention risky. Pivoting to the contract cider-making method has allowed them to build the Windfall brand and produce their flagship cider. With their cider now ready, they’ve been able to land it in the hands of consumers and monitor demand, all while keeping overhead costs relatively low. Sounds like a solid plan to me!
Windfall is currently utilizing a tank at Central City reserved for ‘special projects’ to make their Jackpot Dry Craft Cider. They’ve also been able to leverage Central City’s warehouse to store cider aged in wine barrels; the start of the Windfall barrel-aging program. Sounds delicious, I know. Jeff said they’re also planning to experiment with whiskey barrels in the future.
Their flagship cider dubbed ‘Jackpot’ has only been available for five months, yet it’s available in cans and on tap at an impressive list of bars and restaurants in Vancouver. Although a palatable cider can be made quite quickly, Jeff explained that each batch of Jackpot takes three months to make. This additional fermentation time allows the cider to naturally reach it’s 7% ABV, and results in a cider with just the right touch of sweetness.
Saison beer yeast and juice from twelve different types of local apples – Granny Smith, Sparkling, Gala, Honey Crisp, to name a few – bring this cider to life. Diving into its flavour profile, Jackpot is very well balanced. It has a subtle sweetness on the nose, with a dry body and dry, clean finish. This cider is bubbly but not overly carbonated, which makes for a refreshing and pleasant drinking experience. Also, due to Windfall’s patient cider-making process, the higher alcohol percentage isn’t noticeable. If you told me that Jackpot was 5%, I’d believe you. Well, maybe not after a putting back a few cans…I think I’m getting flashbacks to all of the hazy IPAs I drank this summer…
Switching to the topic of branding and creative, Windfall made a wise decision by working with One Twenty Three West; a local advertising agency and design collective. 123w has experience in the craft beverage industry through their excellent work for Muskoka Brewery and Spirits. Once again, their creativity is on full display in Windfall’s packaging and website design. The illustration style that they developed is very detailed, eclectic, and unique. Contrasting this is the bright yellow-gold lettering that relates nicely to ‘Jackpot’. This pop of bright colour draws attention and invites you to pick up the can, while the illustrations keep you holding onto it to explore the intricacies of the design.
Overall, this is a great cider. Take that from a non-cider expert. But seriously, drinking a few cans of Jackpot and writing this article has sparked my excitement in B.C.’s craft cider industry, and is a sign of good things to come. Do yourself a favour and try Windfall Cider out, and let me know what you think.
Also, a big thanks to Jeff and Nathaly for sharing the Windfall story and providing us with some Jackpot samples!
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