Farnum Hill Ashmead’s Kernel ’08 Reserve (All Gone)
Farnum Hill Ashmead’s Kernel cider is, as far as we know, unique in the world. For centuries, Ashmead’s was a celebrated English eating apple with no cider history that we know of. But every several years, as in 2008, we get a fermentation batch so stunningly good that it goes into bottles on its own. Though Ashmead’s cider lacks cider-apple tannins, the apple’s towering sugar and acid levels yield a fruity, floral, high-alcohol cider with razorlike acid and paradoxic density in the mouth. The alcohol level of this ’08 release is 9% by volume. We bottled only about 40 cases of 12, 750ml bottles with straight cork.
The apple originated near Gloucester, England, in the garden of a certain Dr. Ashmead, over 300 years ago. It gained fame as an eating apple by winning taste competitions held by, among others, the Royal Horticultural Society. The sublime taste of the fresh fruit is what caused us to plant a lot of Ashmead’s here, where it toughs out the winters and produces very well. Years ago we tried fermenting it along with all the other lovely-tasting apples we grow for the fresh market. Most of the experiments tasted bad-to-disgusting. But the Ashmead’s was stunningly good, as were a couple of colonial-era varieties we grow for wholesale. This knockout 2008 Ashmead’s fermentation is only the second in ten years that we have bottled and released.
P.S. We have prettier pictures of Ashmead’s, but this is the most interesting one. The bumps are typical of the variety, as is the rough russeted skin.