Last fall I brewed a batch of cyser – a cider-mead hybrid. This was a very basic mead: I took fresh apple cider and added honey until I hit a gravity of 1.090 (I actually hit 1.093…oops). I then added a touch of yeast nutrient and some nottingham yeast…and completely forgot about it until last weekend. So one week short of a year in the carboy I bottled the cyser…so here are the tasting notes.
Appearance: Pale yellow, much like a medium white wine. This is a still mead, so there is no head.
Aroma: Apple and alcohol dominate, a subtle honey note can be found if you know to look for it.
Flavour: The flavour of this mead is surprisingly complex. Up-front it is like a apple-wine – the flavour is very much that of a dry cider, while the 12.5% alcohol makes itself apparent as a bit of alcohol heat and a mild burn in the chest. The flavour of honey comes out as the boozy apple goodness fades, with the after taste being almost entirely honey. The contribution of the yeast is not overly apparent – in my (cider) experience, Nottingham accentuates the apple character of ciders, which may explain the predominance of apple when you first taste the cyser. Despite the extreme dryness of the mead (final gravity of 0.998), it does not come across as overly dry. Instead, there is a touch of apply fruitiness that keeps the mead refreshing.
Mouthfeel: The body is similar to that of a medium white wine; thicker than water, but thinner than beer. Despite the dryness of the finish, the mead is whetting in the mouth and fades to a mild dryness in the after taste. There is a bit of an alcohol burn – mostly in my chest – but it is neither so strong as to be unpleasant, nor does it distract from the overall character of the mead.
Overall: For such a basic mead, the character is wonderful and complex. The layered flavours of cider and honey play very well together, with the complementary flavours creating complexity while remaining easy to appreciate and enjoy. The higher alcohol content is apparent, but balances well with the body and flavour of the mead. It is a joy to drink now, and I cannot wait to see what another year of aging brings to its character.