Today it’s time for cider, with a visit to Michigan’s Virtue Cider. Specifically, we’re looking at one of the company’s oldest offerings (the Rose) — and its newest (Mezzo Spritz). Thoughts follow.
Virtue Cider Rose – “A blend of hand-pressed heirloom Michigan apples aged in French oak barrels,” with added botanicals to give it color and a floral character. Fairly dry, with just a bit of honey sweetness ’round the middle. The flowery notes take center stage here, a blend of rose petals and honeysuckle pushing the core apple elements a bit into the background. Some of that slightly yeasty funkiness that’s endemic to cider — and especially Virtue Cider — is here, giving the back end a fairly nutty quality. There’s more alcohol evident than I’d like, particularly on the short finish, though plenty of fizz makes it at least approachable. 6.7% abv. B- / $10 per six pack
Virtue Cider Mezzo Spritz – This low-alcohol offering is a cidery spin on the Aperol Spritz, blending Virtue Cider, sparkling water, and natural botanicals (including the blood orange pictured on the label) to approximate a Spritz in a can… just, you know, with apples in it. The results are… questionable. This tastes nothing like any Spritz I’ve ever had (and that is a high number), with a muddy, almost moldy, character on the heavily vegetal nose. Things don’t get much better from there, and while the bitter elements in the mix are clearly a nod toward Aperol and Campari, there’s no balance present in the form of fresh fruit or lively acidity, though a hint of orange is present late in the game. Any sense of cider is absent. At the end of the experience, the unripe olive character on the finish does at least evoke the odd garnish that’s common in some versions of the cocktail, but it’s way out of place here. 3.5% abv. D / $12 per six pack