Off the top, let me just say that I’m a big fan of the Samuel Smith Brewery and their products. Their Nut Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout (recommended by an old friend of mine who ended up becoming a minister) are among my favorite brews. I recommend them to anyone who’ll talk beer with me for longer than a couple of minutes. I’m also a big fan of (alcoholic) apple cider. On a hot summer day there’s just something about the ice cold, tart, sweet taste of a cider and the way that it goes down that hits a spot untouched by beer. Before tonight, I wasn’t even aware that Samuel Smith made a cider, so I was surprised to see the Samuel Smith Organic Cider available at my local Total Wine. Surprised and excited to try it out. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t quite seem to live up to the rest of Samuel Smith’s product line.
The cider pours a straw yellow, which I was expecting (says it right on the bottle). This isn’t a beer, so I wasn’t expecting much head and there really wasn’t much to speak of. It did leave a bit of lacing, surprisingly, but then again, I’m betting Samuel Smith uses the same yeast in this that they do in their beer. The aroma isn’t awful, but not really what I was expecting. The apple is there, but it’s not at the forefront. If anything, it’s rather nondescript, some yeast, and if I was forced to say it, slightly vinegary.
Taste is where I hit my first real speedbump. When chilled, it definitely fits the bill for cold and refreshing, and while it’s definitely tart, I wasn’t really expecting the word “vinegary” to be one I’d use when writing this review. It was definitely most noticeable on the first swallow (but not completely surprising due to the aroma), but it never really disappeared entirely. A sweet apple taste is also prevalent, especially on the back-end. This would be where I actually started to enjoy it a bit. The taste is very dry (again, says it right on the bottle), but it’s definitely not the dryest cider that I’ve ever had. It was also very thin/light in body, which still keeps it highly drinkable, despite the light apple cider vinegar taste.
I’ll probably give it another chance, in the case I somehow got part of a bad batch. I’ll give Samuel Smith that much. As it is, it’s a highly drinkable cider, and while the vinegary taste is a bit off-putting, the apple and cane sugar finish partially make up for it. I can’t really see myself buying it again if this is the norm. That said, like a lot of beverages, I wouldn’t turn a cold one down if it were given to me, particularly on a hot day.