"Tho Cyder needs not any mixture, yet it is a very proper Vehicle to transfer the Vertue of any aromatick or Medicinal Thing, such as Juniper, Ginger &c. The berries of Juniper dry'd, and six or eight put in each Bottle, or proportionably in the Cask, is very good ; tho this is not so palatable as wholesome. "Ginger renders Cyder brisk, and corrects its Windiness ; dry'd Rosemary, Wormwood, Juice of Corinths, &c. whereof a few Drops tinge and add a pleasant Quickness to it ; Juice of Mulberries, Blackberries, and preferably to all, Elderberries pressed amongst the apples : Or if to the Juice you add Clove Gilliflowers dry'd and macerated, both for Tincture and Flavour, it is an excellent Cordial."
M. Chomel (trans. Richard Bradley) Dictionaire Oeconomique vol 1 (1725)
Recent changes to the Alcohol Duty System here in the UK1Succinctly summarised and explained here by the hugely knowledgeable Steve Dunkley, of Beer Nouveau, if you’re looking for a quick guide to the updates. mean that flavoured ciders, which are actually classified as ‘made wines’, are now eligible for Small Producers Relief. Which is handy if you happen to be a small cider producer who likes to add a bit of this or a bit of that to your main apple-based product from time to time.
With that in mind, I thought the above passage from M. Chomel’s eighteenth century dictionary (of what I think amounts to ‘home economics’) might be helpful, suggestions-wise2Although if you’re looking for the original passage, you’ll have to hunt around a bit. It isn’t under ‘C’ for ‘Cyder’. No, no, that would be too easy. Try under ‘B’ for ‘Boiling of Cyder’ instead (obvs!).
So, add some Juniper and your cider will be “wholesome”, if not actually “palatable”. Okay, that one might be a bit of a hard-sell, marketing-wise. How about ginger, which “renders Cyder brisk, and corrects its Windiness”? Okay, yeah, again, that’s probably a bit of a tricky benefit to effectively convey via the label. Rosemary sounds kind of… lamb dinner-y? It would definitely add that sought-after “aromatick” note, if that’s the note you’re seeking. What about Wormwood? Well, Artemisia absinthium is one of the herbal ingredients of absinthe, so it might work in cider as well? I’ll put “Clove Gilliflowers” – which I think are probably Dianthus caryophyllus a.k.a. the Carnation or “Clove Pink” – in this “herbal, really not too sure” list as well.
I reckon you’re probably on much safer ground with the juice of Corinths (currants), blackberries, mulberries or elderberries, all of which sound entirely wholesome and palatable to me.
How about you? Are you a fan of flavoured ciders or do you consider them to be the very epitome of the Devil’s piss-water? Are you a small producer who’s tempted to give a juniper-rosemary-wormwood-gilliflower cider a go, or would you refuse to sully your vessels with such a concoction? Please do let me know, via the usual medium of the comments.
- 1Succinctly summarised and explained here by the hugely knowledgeable Steve Dunkley, of Beer Nouveau, if you’re looking for a quick guide to the updates.
- 2Although if you’re looking for the original passage, you’ll have to hunt around a bit. It isn’t under ‘C’ for ‘Cyder’. No, no, that would be too easy. Try under ‘B’ for ‘Boiling of Cyder’ instead (obvs!)