Hailing from the Basque region of Spain, one of the traditional cider regions of Europe, Shacksbury’s “The Basque” is pressed and fermented by father and daughter José Joaquin and Ainara Otaño at Petritegi Sagardoa, a cidery founded in the 16th Century. Basque Country sits on the western portion of the Spanish/French border, but lying mostly on the Spanish side. A largely agricultural region, Basque Country is know for it's grilled meat and fish, sheep's milk cheese, and it's cider. Tart and dry, this cider would be an absolutely a great crossover beverage for any of you gueuze and lambic drinkers out there (these are Belgian sour beers, more on these another time).
The aroma has got lots of green apple-y characteristics as well as some red baking apple, and a bit of lemon or grapefruit. You’re also going to find something else in there… a mustiness, a sort of hay or horse-like quality. Might not sound appealing, but it’s a great subtlety that those gueuze and lambic drinkers I mentioned earlier love in their sour beers. It's a fantastic layer of complexity that takes this from being a nice tart apple drink to something worth sitting with and contemplating. These aromas and flavors comes from the wild yeast that this cider is made with. Rather than just fermenting the juice and belching out CO2 and alcohol, wild yeasts, when compared to their more conventional, domesticated cousins tend to impart rustic flavors and aromas by fermenting less "cleanly" and producing other compounds, in this case only to the benefit of the finished product.
The flavors echo the aroma, but with additional levels of funk and white grapefruit. Tart and slightly puckering, there’s not much residual sugar here, I would say it might be fermented completely dry. It’s got just the faintest hint of spritz to it, which adds some textural interest, and you’ll also notice a small amount of tannin along the sides of your mouth. It has a pleasantly tart lingering finish, that leaves you with less of the citrus and funk, and more apple flavors.
The Shacksbury website recommends serving it lightly chilled with grilled foods, I also think that this cider in particular would work very well with cheese and charcuterie. The wild yeast component could play very well with cured meats for sure.