How to Host a Blind Cider Tasting Party

It’s truly amazing how many variations of hard cider can be made with the simple base of apple juice and yeast. Jack’s Hard Cider is created using the freshest juice (never from concentrate!), pressed in-house from apples that we grow in our orchard just a few miles down the way from our cidery in Adams County, Pennsylvania. We believe this creates the perfect canvas on which to play with flavors, from the pure simplicity of our crisp, refreshing Original to the herbal aromatic notes of our Dry Hopped cider.

If you want to explore the nuances of our handcrafted cider, there’s no more fun or social way to do it than a blind cider tasting party. This concept is inspired by blind wine tastings, where guests sip through wines without being told what is what, and share their impressions and tasting notes in a totally unbiased way. With just a few, uncomplicated components, this will make for an engaging gathering for your fellow food- and drink-obsessed friends. Here’s how to put this stress-free shindig together:

  • Keep the invite list small. Not all of your pals might appreciate this type of event, so think about the friends who really have a passion for cider and keep it an intimate gathering. Too many guests might make the tasting too distracting for those who are truly trying to concentrate.
  • Buy a variety of Jack’s flavors. The whole idea is to sample a number of drinks and compare them side by side. For maximum fun, we suggest picking up a six-pack of each of our flagship flavors. If you want to make the tasting more challenging, drink one can of cider (it’s tough being the host, huh?) and then refill it with nonalcoholic sparkling cider. Make sure the ciders are chilled, but not super cold.
  • Set up your tasting station. Put each can of cider in a small paper bag, and make sure the label is totally concealed. Once the cans are in the bags, you can mix the bags up so that you can participate, too. Put the cans in a row, with a piece of paper in front of each one labeled A through E or 1 through 5, so that guests can still keep track of what they’re drinking. Put a small stack of clear glasses or cups by each can.
  • Provide guests with a pen, clipboard and blank piece of paper to record tasting notes about each cider. Ask them to consider the color, clarity, aroma and aftertaste of each pour and take notes.
  • Have a pitcher of filtered water and some plain crackers on hand, so everyone can cleanse their palates between samples.
  • Keep the music quiet or turned off while everyone is trying the ciders. It’s best for focused tasting to have as few distractions as possible.
  • After everyone has sampled each cider, sit down to compare notes and discuss your findings. Once everyone has shared, remove the paper bags to reveal which cider is which and see if your observations match our tasting notes.
  • Then, crack open a few more ciders, turn the music back up and put out some cider-infused snacks, or just order pizza and enjoy an afternoon or evening with your cider-loving friends!

Jack’s Hard Cider — Produced from Pennsylvania Apples. Pressed On-Site. Never from Concentrate.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Anna Miron (first two photographs); Bigstock