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Hard cider maker medals at international competition

December 9, 2019
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Vander Mill Awards
Courtesy Vander Mill Cider

A West Michigan cidery recently took home top honors at an international competition in Spain.

Vander Mill Cider represented West Michigan’s cider scene at the Sagardo Forum’s International Cider Competition, taking home several awards last month, including Best in Show.

Vander Mill entered a total of five ciders to be evaluated this year. Two of the top ciders made by Vander Mill, Totally Roasted and Vandy, earned silver medals in the Spiced and Modern cider categories, respectively.

The other three ciders entered into the competition were a collaboration between Vander Mill and two Basque Country cider makers, Egoitz Zapaian and Xabier Kamio.

Maiti Fresh won Best in Show. The collaboration cider is spiced with orange peel, cardamom and star anise. It is slightly sweet with notes of lime and licorice. Maiti Fresh is now available on draft at both Vander Mill locations in Grand Rapids and Spring Lake.

Maiti Spicy won Best in Class in the flavored cider and perry category. The cider is spiced with coriander, hibiscus and fresh ginger.

Golden Friendship, a cider aged in white American oak, also won a silver medal.

“We used the word Maiti in these ciders due to its similarity to the English — mighty — and the literal meaning of the word in the Basque language — love,” said Paul Vander Heide, co-owner of Vander Mill. “We think the combination represents this collaboration perfectly. It was a great experience designing new flavor profiles in cider, especially with Egoitz and Xabier. They bring their own unique perception of flavor and use of ingredients to the process that obviously resonated with the judges.”

Vander Mill Cider was the only West Michigan competitor in the international competition.

The Sagardo Forum is an educational conference about cider, fermentation and apples held in San Sebastian, Spain. The conference also features a cider competition with hundreds of entries from cider makers around the world. Ciders were evaluated by international judges from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

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