Specialty cider/perry includes beverages made with added flavorings (spices and/or other fruits), those made with substantial amounts of sugar-sources to increase starting gravities, and the beverage made from a combination of apple and pear juice (sometimes called pider).
The same general characteristics and fault descriptions apply to specialty ciders as to standard ciders (preceding category), with the exception of added ingredients allowed.
C2A. New England Cider
This is a cider made with characteristic New England apples for relatively high acidity, with additives to raise alcohol levels and contribute additional flavor notes.
Overall Impression: Substantial body and character. Typically relatively dry, but can be somewhat sweet if in balance and not containing hot alcohol.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium yellow.
Aroma / Flavor: A flavorful cider with robust apple character, strong alcohol, and derivative flavors from sugar additives; traditionally dry.
Mouthfeel: Substantial, alcoholic. Moderate tannin.
Comments: Additives may include white and brown sugars, molasses, small amounts of honey, and raisins. Additives are intended to raise OG well above that which would be achieved by apples alone. This style is sometimes barrel-aged, in which case there will be oak character as with a barrel-aged wine. If the barrel was formerly used to age spirits, some flavor notes from the spirit (e.g., whisky or rum) may also be present, but must be subtle.
Characteristic Ingredients: Apple Varieties: Northern Spy, Roxbury Russet, Golden Russet, Baldwin, etc.; many traditional New England apples.
C2B. Cider with Other Fruit
This is a cider with other fruits or fruit-juices added – for example, berry. This is the correct style to enter a beverage fermented from a combination of apple and pear juice.
Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the added fruit so that neither one dominates the other.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added fruit, but should not show oxidation characteristics. (For example, red berries should give red-to-purple color, not orange.)
Aroma / Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the other fruits. It is a fault if the added fruit(s) completely dominate; a judge might ask, Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider? A fruit cider should not be like an alco-pop. Oxidation is a fault.
Mouthfeel: Substantial. May be significantly tannic, depending on fruit added.
The term for this category is traditional but possibly misleading: it is simply a cider with substantial added sugar to achieve higher alcohol than a standard cider. As such it comes closer to a white wine than any other style. No fruit other than apples may be used in this style.
Overall Impression: Typically like a dry white wine, balanced, and with low astringency and bitterness.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant, pale to medium-gold. Cloudiness or hazes are inappropriate.
Aroma / Flavor: Comparable to a New World Cider. Cider character must be distinctive. Very dry to sweet, although often dry.
Mouthfeel: Lighter than other ciders, because higher alcohol is derived from addition of sugar rather than juice. Carbonation may range from still to champagne-like.
C2D. Ice Cider
This is a cider style in which the juice is concentrated before fermentation either by freezing fruit before pressing or freezing juice and removing water. Fermentation stops or is arrested before reaching dryness. The character differs from Applewine in that the ice cider process increases not only sugar (hence alcohol) but acidity and all fruit flavor components proportionately. No additives are permitted in this style; in particular, sweeteners may not be used to increase gravity. This style originated in Quebec in the 1990s.
Appearance: Brilliant. Color is deeper than a standard cider, gold to amber.
Aroma / Flavor: Fruity, smooth, sweet-tart. Acidity must be enough to prevent it being cloying.
Mouthfeel: Full body. May be tannic (astringent and/or bitter) but this should be slight, to moderate at most.
Characteristic Ingredients: Apple Varieties: Usually North American classic table fruit such as McIntosh or Cortland.
C2E. Cider with Herbs/Spices
This is a cider with any combination of “botanicals” added. Hopped ciders are included in this category. Other examples are ciders with “apple pie” spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), ginger, lemon grass, herbal tea blends, etc.
Overall Impression: Like a white wine with complex flavors. The apple character must marry with the botanicals and give a balanced result.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color appropriate to added botanicals.
Aroma / Flavor: The cider character must be present and must fit with the botanicals. As with a fruit cider, it is a fault if the botanicals dominate; a judge might ask, Would this be different if neutral spirits replaced the cider? Oxidation of either the base cider or the additions is a fault.
Mouthfeel: Average or more. Cider may be tannic from effect of botanicals but must not be bitter from over-extraction.
C2F. Specialty Cider/Perry
This is an open-ended category for cider or perry with other ingredients such that it does not fit any of the categories above. This includes the use of other sweeteners. A cider with added honey may be entered here if the cider character remains dominant; otherwise it should be entered as mead in the cyser sub-category. Examples also include wood-fermented or aged ciders in which the wood/barrel character is a significant part of the overall flavor profile.
Appearance: Clear to brilliant. Color should be that of a standard cider unless other ingredients are expected to contribute color.
Aroma / Flavor: The cider character must always be present, and must fit with added ingredients. If a spirit barrel was used, the character of the spirit (rum, whiskey, etc.) must be no more than just recognizable; it must not be a substantial element of the flavor.
Mouthfeel: Average body, may show tannic (astringent) or heavy body as determined by other ingredients.