Unique Appeal: Kingston Black Apple in Hard Cider Production


In the world of hard cider production, the choice of apple is paramount to the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of the finished product. Among the myriad of apple varieties available, the Kingston Black apple holds a special place. Revered for its balanced attributes conducive to cider making, it stands out not just for its historical significance but also for its unique characteristics that make it a favorite among cider producers.

This blog explores the Kingston Black apple’s special qualities, its origins, and how it compares to other cider apple varieties.

The Special Qualities of the Kingston Black Apple

The Kingston Black apple, sometimes referred to as the “Aromatic Black,” is highly esteemed in the cider-making community for several reasons. It is a bittersharp apple, a category distinguished by a fine balance of tannins and acidity, essential for creating complex, flavorful ciders. This balance allows this special apple variety to be used as a single-varietal cider, a rarity in the cider world where blends are the norm. The resultant cider is noted for its deep, rich color, and a complex flavor profile that carries notes of spice, citrus, and earthiness, with a distinctly smooth finish.

Origin and Historical Significance

Tracing its roots back to the late 19th century, the Kingston Black apple originates from the orchards of Somerset, England, a region synonymous with cider production. Its name is derived from the village of Kingston, near Taunton, where it was first propagated. This reputation for producing superior cider quickly spread, cementing its status as a cornerstone of traditional English cider-making. Its cultivation has since expanded, finding a place in orchards worldwide, particularly in regions with a burgeoning craft cider movement.

Comparison with Other Cider Apple Varieties

When compared to other cider apples, this fruit holds its own for its single-varietal cider quality. However, it’s important to explore how it stacks up against other notable varieties:

  1. Dabinett: Another bittersweet variety, Dabinett, is prized for its rich tannins and softer acidity, producing ciders with a full-bodied flavor. While Dabinett ciders are known for their depth, they often lack the Kingston Black’s aromatic complexity.
  2. Yarlington Mill: This bittersweet variety is known for its higher sugar content, leading to a slightly sweeter cider. Yarlington Mill ciders are well-rounded but don’t exhibit the same sharpness or aromatic intensity as those made from Kingston Black apples.
  3. Bramley’s Seedling: As a cooking apple, Bramley’s Seedling brings high acidity to cider blends, contributing to a refreshing sharpness. While it enhances the blend’s complexity, on its own, it lacks the balanced character of these types of apples.

This Black Apple: Uniquely Positioned for Hard Cider Making

The Kingston Black apple occupies a unique position in the cider-making world, celebrated as one of the select few varieties that can be used to produce high-quality, single-varietal cider. Once again, this esteemed apple is categorized as a bittersharp, a distinction that speaks to its perfect balance of sweetness and astringency, a combination highly sought after in the cider industry. The apple itself presents an interesting physical appearance; it is of medium size, typically measuring about 2 inches in height and 2 and a half inches in width, with an irregular shape that adds to its character.

The heritage associated with it is deeply rooted in cider-making traditions, with origins tracing back to the orchards of Somerset, England. This variety stands out not only for its exceptional cider-producing capabilities but also for its distinctive aesthetic. The skin additionally boasts a rich dark mahogany hue set against an orange background, a striking contrast that makes it instantly recognizable. When pressed, the fruit yields a juice of a deep tawny red color, indicative of the robust flavors and aromas it imparts to its cider.

In terms of taste, it offers a complex profile, being moderately sweet and appealing to those who appreciate a subtle natural sugar content without overwhelming sweetness. However, the standout feature of its flavor is the strong astringent aftertaste it delivers, a quality that lends a unique depth and richness to the ciders it produces. This astringency is not merely a trait but a marker of the apple’s capability to create ciders with complex, layered tastes, setting it apart from other varieties that might produce more one-dimensional drinks.

Interestingly, the Kingston Black apple’s appeal is not limited to cider production. It is also enjoyed fresh by many who appreciate its nuanced flavor profile. The combination of moderate sweetness and pronounced astringency makes it a fruit that offers more than just a simple eating experience. It invites a moment of reflection on the intricate flavors and textures at play, making it a favorite among apple connoisseurs and casual enjoyers alike.

Cultivation is a testament to the enduring legacy of traditional cider making. Its ability to produce a cider that is both high in quality and rich in heritage makes it a treasured variety among cider makers. In fact, as the craft cider movement continues to grow, the Kingston Black remains a symbol of quality and tradition, embodying the art and science of cider production in its very essence.


This black apple’s unique position in the cider world is a testament to its balanced flavor profile, historical significance, and versatility in single-varietal cider production. Its ability to produce a cider that is at once rich, complex, and harmoniously balanced sets it apart from other varieties. For cider makers and enthusiasts alike, this special fruit represents the pinnacle of what a cider apple can be, offering a taste experience that is deeply rooted in tradition yet continually evolving.

In conclusion, the Kingston Black apple is much more than just an ingredient for cider; it is a representation of cider-making history, a beacon of quality, and a delight to the senses. Its unique balance of sweetness and astringency, coupled with its striking appearance and complex flavor profile, ensures that it stands out in the vast orchard of apple varieties. Whether enjoyed fresh or as part of a meticulously crafted cider, this offers a taste experience that is both deeply satisfying and reminiscent of a rich heritage that continues to flourish in the hands of modern cider makers.

Bonus Note:

EsoTerra Ciderworks is part of UPS’s carbon neutral initiative, offsetting climate impacts of shipments via Vinoshipper. In 2021, along with wineries and cideries nationwide, we contributed to neutralizing over 1,200 metric tons of CO2e!

Whether you prefer cider at home or in a tasting room, EsoTerra Ciderworks is here and welcomes you. Visit us in Colorado for cider flights, glasses, or bottles, tours, and bites. Enjoy the full experience with us! Contact us here, anytime.