I’m going into this “Bourbon Barrel” limited release from Left Field somewhat blind, as it’s not described on their website or the bottle (beyond some info about the Cidermaker’s Select series in general). I gathered from Left Field’s Facebook that it’s fermented in bourbon barrels, but have no idea about age or anything else really.
Much like the Pear Dry, it pours a very pale, clear yellow. I feel pretty safe in saying that if you like one thing they’ve made, you’re likely to enjoy the rest of their catalog.
The aroma is mainly apples, mainly tart — I’m guessing cider apples, not so many dessert apples — with some drier, almost papery notes and a touch of funk likely coming in from the bourbon barrels.
While drinking this and trying to formulate a review, I went back over some of the other ciders I’ve tagged as “barrel-aged,” and the conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s a very diverse category. You’ve got your Prohibitions, intense in flavor and color, and then you’ve got your Oaked Maples which come out a little weird, but not so definitively asserting “this came from a barrel.”
Left Field is more the latter than the former — it tastes different than a non-barrel-aged cider, but not in a drastic way. It’s pretty dry, crisp, and acidic, and the aftertaste gets a slight bit woody.
In hindsight I should have held on to the other Left Field ciders I had to do a comparison tasting. Some cideries’ offerings tend to have a certain familial resemblance, while others vary wildly; Left Field seems to be one of the former. From what I can recall, I would say this comes out closest to their English Dry variety.
All in all it’s not bad but I prefer their Pear Dry, or the Big/Little Dry. The bourbon-barrel fermentation just doesn’t add that much (unless, I guess, you’re into very subtle taste variations). Still, again — if you like one of their ciders you’ll probably like others.