TIPSY TOURIST: Distillery Lane Ciderworks

There are 3,000 apple trees growing on the farm at Distillery Lane Ciderworks.

There are 3,000 apple trees growing on the farm at Distillery Lane Ciderworks.

In autumn, a girl’s fancy turns to apples. A tipsy tourist’s to cider. So off we go to Distillery Lane Ciderworks!

Apples are falling off the 3,000 trees that cover nine acres of rolling farmland of Distillery Lane Ciderworks located near Burkittsville in Frederick County Some are sweet enough to eat fresh. Others make good pies. Some are pressed for fresh cider. And, fellow tipsy tourists, some will become hard cider.

Lucy keeps an eye on the place. Deer have been warned.

Lucy keeps an eye on the place. Deer have been warned.

Many of these apples are very old varieties (One cider is made from Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple.)

Apple lovers are invited to come to the orchard and pick their own fruit on weekends during the harvest season (which is right now!) In addition, there’s an “It’s All About the Apples” Festival this Saturday, October 12, with tours, demonstrations, cider tastings (over 21 please) and food trucks.

Distillery Lane’s ciders don’t come in beer bottles or have much sparkle or sweetness. Instead, they are bottled and poured like wine. And they’re mostly dry like many fine white wines with a similar alcohol content.

Kingston Black cider has a  touch of smoke reminiscent of bourbon.

Kingston Black cider has a touch of smoke reminiscent of bourbon.

I visited the Frederick County ciderworks on a recent Saturday, a pretty day when the trees were filled with fruit — and the tasting room was filled with a variety of ciders to taste.

Celebration Cider was about the sweetest of the ciders I tasted. Jefferson Cider is made from the sixth president’s favorite Newtown Pippins. My favorite was the Kingston Black, a cider aged in oak bourbon barrels —  this juice retains a bit of the bourbon flavor.  Distillery Lane sells 10 different kinds of cider as well as fresh cider for drinking or making into your own hard cider at home. (They offer popular classes in the off-season; the next is in January.)

Scrumpy is one of Distillery Lane's newest ciders.

Scrumpy is one of Distillery Lane’s newest ciders.

Even if I wasn’t interested in cider, I would have found the orchard worth a visit. Not only is it a place of serenity, it’s one of history. The farm was an encampment for Union soldiers during the Civil war and the name of the property refers to an old pre-Prohibition distillery that used to be down the lane.

The farm wasn’t an apple orchard until the current owners bought the property in 1998 and started planting. It’s a growing family enterprise. And a delicious one at that.

The tools for the harvest hang ready for use.

The tools for the harvest hang ready for use.

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Tipsy Tourist is an occasional series of bars, taverns, saloons, watering holes of note — not that we’re advocating tipsiness, of course.

© Text and photos
Mary K. Tilghman

Previous Tipsy Tourist posts on wine: 

If you have a favorite spot you’d like to see here on Thirsty Thursday, let me know. 

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