The Snack Report: Mckenzie’s Pumpkin Jack Hard Cider
Halloween is less than a week away. We’re excited, you know it. If you’ve been with us from the beginning of the month, you’ll know I took to reviewing some seasonal hard ciders, the only perfect drink of the Fall (sorry pumpkin ale). While reviewing ciders this month, I decided to save the best for last. A cider so delectable, it’s strong and formidable, yet tastes reminiscent of liquid dessert. The last of our seasonal Fall cider reviews is McKenzie’s Pumpkin Jack Hard Cider.
McKenzie’s has always been one of my personal favorites, hailing from New York and with a nice variety of ciders, its standard one being the right blend of sweet apple flavor with dry adult drink-iness. Their seasonal cider for the Fall is Pumpkin Jack, which differs slightly from the majority of Fall ciders which tend to feature a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, and instead presents with a pumpkin themed drink.
If you’re a fan of PCFG, you’ll remember we’ve already covered pumpkin pie spice, and why it doesn’t necessarily include pumpkin in it. There’s a reason for the distinction “pumpkin pie spice” and why so many foods containing it are called “pumpkin spice” variations, instead of just pumpkin. If you missed that post, long story short, the spice blend is made of cinnamon, nutmeg, and others, and doesn’t usually include pumpkin flavoring, namely due to the fact it’s used to flavor, wait for it, pumpkin pies. Go figure, right? Well, pumpkin pie filling is chock full of actual pumpkin flesh anyway, so the spices that go into it are what really give the pie its trademark flavor, considering pumpkin has such a mellow taste on its own. So the outcome of all that is that you can make things taste similar to pumpkin pie using just pumpkin pie spice.
The reason I bring all that up is because McKenzie’s Pumpkin Jack doesn’t cop out and use only pumpkin pie spice (not that there’s anything wrong with it), but instead features minimal spice flavor, and more pumpkin and vanilla flavors at the forefront of its taste. So in other words, this cider tastes a whole frigging lot like pumpkin pie. And by that, I mean it tastes like you’re just drinking pumpkin pie. It may sound gimmicky, but the pumpkin flavor goes really well with the tanginess that cider naturally possesses, and all the pumpkin pie spice flavor is minimal. But! That’s not to say that Pumpkin Jack is a fruity, overly-sweet dessert drink. On the contrary, it’s actually not much sweeter than your standard hard cider, but instead it just features the most pleasant essences of pumpkin pie layered on top of it. So when I say it tastes like a liquid dessert, I mean it literally tastes like pumpkin pie in drink form, not a sugary mess.
Pumpkin Jack without a doubt takes the gold medal for Fall ciders. Nothing even comes close to how good it tastes and how well it pulls off what it’s trying to do. If you’re a fan of hard cider, go out and buy it as soon as realistically possible. It’s very easy to come by in New York state, though I’m not sure what its availability is like in other parts of the country. McKenzie’s isn’t some local microbrewery, so I imagine you can buy it most places. Either way, it’s worth it to find some. I’m a huge cider guy. I was drinking it years and years before it became widely known, and I started drinking it even before hipsters took a shine to it. That’s right, I out-hipped the hipsters. Though technically this entire diatribe basically portrays me as a hipster anyway, so…