Since today is West Virignia’s 154th birthday, it is fitting to begin telling the journey of our WV Scrumpy. Before we even started Swilled Dog Hard Cider, we knew that we wanted to create a company that not only made great craft ciders but would also make a difference in the state of West Virginia. We are very passionate about our state and what it has to offer. It amazes us that when we travel, there are people that don’t even know that West Virginia is a state. We would love to find their 4th grade teacher...and no, we don’t know their cousin who lives in Richmond.
WV Scrumpy is a cider that was created to address all of the above. Born in the mountains of our great state, this cider was crafted to showcase everything West Virginia has to offer. Every apple from our 2016 batch, which by the way won a silver medal at the world’s largest international cider competition (just sayin’), was donated by generous folks from across the entire state. Some people work hard to grow the perfect cider apples for generations to create amazing award winnings ciders. We drove around the entire state knocking on doors and stopping along the beautiful scenic roadways to blend the perfect varieties of apples our state has to offer. The majority of the apples used to make this cider were from wild unknown varieties only found in West Virginia from trees that have been on farms ranging from 70 to even 100 years. Other apples were on trees that residents referred to as their “pesky crab apple tree” that just gets their yard dirty every fall - unbeknownst to them, these pesky crab apple trees produce the perfect acidity needed to blend a well-balanced cider into a masterpiece. We even had to convince people by saying, “I know you don’t think these apples make anything worth a d…, but trust us! We will bring you a bottle when we are done to prove it to you – no, we don’t add liquor to apple juice to make hard cider. Trust us!” And from all of this, WV Scrumpy emerged.
Cider is very similar to wine – hence why it is considered a wine for alcohol classification purposes. Instead of using juice from pressed grapes, cider is made by using juice from pressed apples and is allowed to ferment in similar fashion. The characteristics of the region in which the grapes are grown is referred to by the wine connoisseur as the region’s “terroir” – by far one of wine’s most misunderstood terms. There are four traits of a region’s terroir – 1.) climate, 2.) soil, 3.) terrain, and 4.) tradition.
While driving along the beautiful roadways of WV and finding amazing backyard orchards and random apple trees all along the way, we came to quickly realize that this state’s terroir for apple growing is very underrated and underappreciated with a deep history that is untold. It is our mission to change the narrative and help showcase West Virginia’s ability to make great cider, and our 2016 WV Scrumpy did just that. Going up against the best cider makers in the world, people took notice of what West Virginia had been itching to tell the world or a long, long time – it can produce damn good cider!
This cider is special in so many ways. Each year’s batch will be different as it will be impossible to recreate. Apples will come from different parts of the state, the composition will depend on the harvest, and the more donated apples we receive will cause each year’s batch to have its own unique characteristics. However, the most important component of this cider will always stay the same – 100% of the proceeds will be used to make an impact in our state by donating to our great local communities and charities. We want everyone who enjoys this cider to know that the hard work that went into crafting such an amazing product was done to be part of a movement – to help Swilled Dog make a significant impact across our great state. We have also already committed 1% of our sales to benefit local communities and charities and our plans are to increase this significantly over time.
We can’t thank everyone enough for being so supportive of our brand and our mission. There are so many places to launch a company, but we are proud to say that our heart is in West Virginia – even though people from across the country will still confuse us for the western part of Virginia and will still ask us if we enjoy our beaches – news flash, we don’t have beaches unless you are referring to some of our state’s beautiful lakes. However when they drink our award-winning WV Scrumpy, and we tell the story of the amazing people that helped bring this cider to life, they will quickly understand why we are so passionate about our state. So on our great state’s 154th birthday, again thank you! Or as we like to say, “Mission accomplished, Mountaineers!”
Continue following the journey by subscribing to our blog. Part II will discuss the planning for our larger 2017 batch of WV Scrumpy and the efforts around our upcoming 2nd Annual WV Scrumpy Apple Drive. Until the next time, #GetSwilled