Best Varieties of Apples for Making Hard Apple Cider

Crafting the perfect hard apple cider starts with selecting the suitable apples. This article explores the best apple varieties to use. Let’s dive into the essentials for making the best apple hard cider.


The Role of Apple Varieties in Hard Cider


Apples are the key ingredient in hard cider. The type of apple you choose will impact the flavor, aroma, and overall quality. Understanding the different apple varieties and their characteristics is crucial. Let’s explore some popular choices.


1. Kingston Black


Kingston Black is a classic English cider apple. It’s known for its balanced acidity and tannins. This variety is ideal for making a well-rounded cider. The apple’s high sugar content ensures a robust fermentation process. 


Kingston Black cider boasts a rich, complex flavor that enthusiasts love.


2. Dabinett


Dabinett apples are another favorite among cidermakers. Originating from England, this variety is renowned for its bittersweet taste. Dabinett apples produce a full-bodied cider with a smooth finish. 


Their moderate acidity and high tannin levels contribute to a balanced drink. Dabinett is an excellent choice if you’re aiming for a traditional cider.


3. Yarlington Mill


Yarlington Mill apples offer a perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness, making this variety well-suited for creating flavorful cider. They are known for their rich, fruity aroma and deep color. 


The resulting cider is smooth with a hint of astringency, making it a popular choice for novice and experienced cider makers.


4. Michelin


Michelin apples are a staple in French cider making. They are bittersweet, with a high tannin content and moderate acidity. Michelin apples yield a robust cider with a distinct character. Their intense flavor profile makes them an excellent base for blending with other varieties. 


If you want a traditional French cider experience, Michelin apples are a must-try.


5. Roxbury Russet


Roxbury Russet is one of the oldest apple varieties in the United States. It’s known for its high sugar content and complex flavor profile. Roxbury Russet apples produce a crisp, dry cider with a hint of sweetness. 


The cider has a rich, golden color and a pleasant aroma. This variety is perfect for those who appreciate a well-balanced cider.


6. Golden Russet


Golden Russet apples are another excellent choice for hard cider. They are known for their sweet, honey-like flavor and high sugar content, producing a cider that is both crisp and refreshing. 


The cider has a bright, clear appearance and a delightful taste. This variety is ideal for those who prefer a sweeter cider.


7. Ashmead’s Kernel


Ashmead’s Kernel apples are prized for their unique flavor and high acidity. This variety produces a tart, aromatic cider with a complex taste. Ashmead’s Kernel apples have a distinctive russeted skin and a dense texture. The cider is rich in tannins, giving it a full-bodied character. This variety is perfect for those who enjoy a bold, flavorful cider.


8. Esopus Spitzenburg


Esopus Spitzenburg apples are known for their spicy, aromatic flavor. This variety produces a cider with a rich, complex taste and a deep, amber color. Esopus Spitzenburg apples have a high sugar content, which results in a robust fermentation. 


The cider has a smooth finish with a hint of spice, making it a favorite among cider connoisseurs.


9. Northern Spy


Northern Spy apples are a versatile variety that works well in both eating and cider making. They have a crisp texture and a balanced flavor. Northern Spy apples produce a light, refreshing, and slightly tart cider with a pale color and a clean, fruity aroma. 


This variety is perfect for those who enjoy a delicate, easy-drinking cider.


10. Wickson Crab


Wickson Crab apples are small but pack a punch in flavor. They have a high sugar content and a sharp, tangy taste. Wickson Crab apples produce a bright, effervescent cider that is full of character. 


The cider has a lively acidity and a crisp finish. This variety is ideal for those who prefer a bold, zesty cider.


Tips for Blending Apple Varieties


Blending different apple varieties can enhance the complexity and balance of your cider. Here are some tips for creating the best apple hard cider:


  • Balance Sweetness and Acidity: Combine sweet and tart apples to achieve a balanced flavor.
  • Mix Bittersweet and Sharp Apples: Use bittersweet apples for the body and sharp apples for a refreshing finish.
  • Experiment with Proportions: Try different ratios to find the perfect blend for your taste.


Blending allows you to create a cider that is uniquely yours. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect combination.




Choosing the right apple varieties is essential for making the best apple hard cider. Whether you prefer a sweet, tart, or complex flavor, there’s an apple variety for you. Experiment with different combinations to create a cider that suits your taste.


At Champlain Orchards, we offer a wide range of apple varieties that are perfect for cider-making. Explore our selection and start crafting your cider today.


Share your cider-making experiences in the comments below. Let us know which apple varieties you prefer. Remember to share this post with fellow cider enthusiasts. Visit Champlain Orchards for more information on our apple varieties and cider-making tips. Let’s raise a glass to great cider!

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As one of the oldest continuously operating orchards in Vermont, we take pride in growing over 175 varieties of apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, nectarines, and berries.

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