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Elliot Gold — a hard cider made from a little-known Utah apple — lived up to its name recently when it earned first place at The Great American International Cider Competition in New York.
The adult beverage, produced by Mountain West Hard Cider in Salt Lake City, won gold in the modern cider category of the competition, said owner Jeff Carleton.
The story of this award-winning cider, though, actually began in 1980 in Provo.
That’s when farmer Grant Elliott first discovered the variety growing in his orchard, according to Pyne Farms, an Orem orchard that sells the variety.
When the sapling — thought to be a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Starking Delicious— began to flower and fruit, it was successfully grafted to a few trees. Then in 1991, a California nursery started growing it for commercial sale.
“The odds of creating a new apple variety is about one in 100,000,” the Pyne Farms website notes. “So the Elliott apple is not only unique to the area, but is quite unique in its own right among apple trees world-wide.”
Like its name suggests, the Elliot Gold is bright yellow in color with a pink blush. It has a crisp texture and spicy sweetness.
Mountain West cider maker, Joel Goodwillie, chose a yeast to complement those flavors and the result is a bright, slightly tart cider with subtle spice that impressed judges, said Carleton
The straw-colored cider — which is 7.5% alcohol-by volume — is produced just once a year and in limited quantities. A 500-ml bottle is $8.99 each and can be purchased at the Mountain West production facility, 425 N 400 West, in Salt Lake City.