In addition to growing a certified-organic heirloom-variety apple orchard on their historic 50-acre farm in Chimacum, Washington, Finnriver Farm & Cidery co-owners Keith and Crystie Kisler, co-owner Eric Jorgensen, head cidermaker Andrew Byers, and crew farm and ferment on the acreage. They grow organic veggies and fruits, which in turn are sold at local farmer’s markets and through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. They even operate a grainery — growing and milling their own wheat crops into organic flours, which Port Townsend bakers and restaurants appreciate. Finnriver is also a certified B corporation, meaning that a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment are no less important goals than generation of profit. Since it’s our weekly Money cider flight, and we received a new shipment of Finnriver cider — welcome to Peaks and Pints Monday Cider Flight: Finnriver Farm & Cidery.
Finnriver Solstice Saffron
Finnriver Solstice Saffron is created with locally produced saffron, anise and fennel seeds for aroma of dry apples with subdued saffron. Flavor is medium sweet with green apples, with only subdued saffron notes. It’s an unusual adjunct for a cider, but it works well.
Finnriver’s small batch Pear Cider features cider fermented on the farm using 100 percent organic apple juice pressed from Washington apples. Finnriver ferments the apple juice, and then sweetens it with organic pear for additional depth, sweetness, and flavor, although apples rule the nose here. There’s a certain bitterness grounding the pear flavor, pulling it out of the realm of single-note sweetness.
Finnriver’s Cranberry Rosehip version is a small batch seasonal cider fermented to dry and then blended with the juice of transitional and organic cranberries from the Washington coast’s Starvation Alley Farm. Head Cidermaker Andrew Byers then adds an infusion of wild rosehips gathered from woods and hedges around the Olympic Peninsula. Sweetened with unrefined organic cane sugar for added depth and balance, this holiday cider is lightly carbonated.
Finnriver makes small batches of Black Currant cider year-round, featuring cider fermented on the farm using 100 percent organic apple juice pressed from Washington apples. They ferment the apple juice in stainless steel tanks, and then blend with black currant and unrefined organic cane sugar for additional depth, sweetness, and flavor. Expect bright apple fruit balanced by berry complexity, sweet and sour notes, with a light sparkle and purple blush.
A select blend of Certified Organic Washington apples from the Yakima Valley is fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to capture the full ester profile of the apples. Once fermentation is complete, this cider is then aged for 12 to 16 weeks in rye whiskey barrels from High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. The 2017 Good Food Awards winning Finnriver Oak & Apple has bright citrus with a smooth whiskey depth and spicy rye spirit. Woody astringency balances the acidity, and then finishes with lovely, toasted oak and vanilla notes.
Finnriver’s Black Oak is a combination of high acid and aromatic heirloom apples with aged black currant wine — all of which comes through a friendly network of local farms, orchards, and distilleries (for the barrels). Fresh-pressed black currant wine made from organic currants grown in Agnew, Washington, at Tahlequah Farms and Methow Wild Fruits in Winthrop, then aged in American oak brandy barrels for nine months and blended back with the cider. It hits the nose with black currants, dark fruit, and wine-like notes. Piercing acidity zings through delivering the fruity notes along with complicated rolling bitters, green, sharp apple, notes of vanilla and smooth out breath of wooded caramel to the finish.
Finnriver’s Pommeau apple wine goes through all the stages of apple metamorphosis: it begins as apple juice, which the Chimacum, Washington cidery ferments into an apple wine. They then fortify this wine with their 100-proof apple brandy (distilled from their cider made with organic Pacific Northwest apples and aged two months in American oak). The autumn apple harvest comes in and the must, or fresh unfermented juice, is then blended with the brandy in oak barrels. The 18.5 percent ABV mixture continues to mature in the barrel for approximately two years. Bright and clear, with a beautiful amber color and a rich range of aromas, Pommeau delivers notes of bright, fresh apple followed by butterscotch, leather, brown sugar, caramel, and hints of spice, with a deeper hint of vanilla. Anchored by the oak with subtle flavors of stewed apple, dried fruit, and honeyed fullness.