Totally good: Vander Mill Totally Roasted Cider



Champagne glasses work for cider too.
To celebrate a friend's move to a new apartment last week, I opened a bottle of Vander Mill Totally Roasted Cider that I'd picked up at the Beer Temple. I realize that champagne would have been more traditional, but I can't afford real champagne, and cheap sparkling wines tend to all taste more or less the same to me—fine, but nothing to get too excited about. Cider, on the other hand, is something I like a lot as long as it's not too sweet. Besides, this bottle was on the pricey side—$13.99 for a 25-ounce bottle—which in my book makes it officially appropriate for a celebratory drink.

And while it's a little expensive, it's also completely worth it. My friend was wrapped up in conversation when she took a sip, but interrupted herself to look at the bottle, exclaiming, "Whoa, this is really good!" (I had the same reaction, except I didn't say it out loud.)

I'd never heard of Vander Mill, which is located in WisconsinMichigan, and bought this bottle mostly because it said that four pounds of homemade cinnamon-roasted pecans are used in each 30-gallon batch of cider, as well as whole vanilla beans. The cider is light but incredibly complex, with flavors so subtle they're hard to pin down. I could taste nuttiness and a faint spiciness, though I'd have been hard-pressed to identify the flavors as pecan and cinnamon if I hadn't known. The vanilla is more obvious, and there's a very slight smokiness and an oaky finish (probably from the vanilla). It would be easy to imagine the cider had been aged in wood, though as far as I know it wasn't. I'd take it over sparkling wine—or probably even champagne—any day.

Julia Thiel writes about booze every Wednesday.

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