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Daniel Haykin didn’t intend to fall in love with hard cider. He and his wife, Talia, have had many hobbies over the years: gardening, pickling, cold-smoking fish. Cider-making was just another avenue for learning until Daniel began drawing deep parallels between cider and sparkling grape wine production, connections that became all-consuming. Before long, Daniel’s garage pastime became a full-on family business and Haykin Family Cider opened in 2018.
What drives Daniel’s passion for cider is a love of the process of coaxing unique flavors from the fruit. “I became intrigued with making a sparkling wine out of Colorado-grown apples,” Daniel says. “The terroir in Colorado is incredible. Our high elevation, dry air, hot days, and cool nights produce amazing flavor, aroma, and sugar content. We believe Colorado-grown apples are quite literally the best on Earth.”
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Where modern apples are prized for their crunch factor, Daniel seeks out heirloom varieties for their singular, focused flavors. For him, discovering the differences amongst apple varieties became an obsession, which is why most of Haykins’ ciders showcase a single variety instead of a blend. Just as one might attribute grapefruit notes to Sauvignon Blanc or cassis to Cabernet Sauvignon, Daniel discovered that the Manchurian crabapple gives a hauntingly earthy, peat-like aroma, whereas the Akane apple presents ethereal sake-like notes with white florality. His taproom pours other single-variety ciders starring Harrison, Ruby Jons, and Jonagold apples, and all have their own unique profiles.
Haykin’s experimentation goes beyond emphasizing single varietals. Daniel is also an advocate for the beauty and potential of the humble crabapple. He forages across the Front Range, coaxing abandoned heirloom crabapple varieties, such as the aforementioned Manchurian, to life in the bottle. That’s one reason he is partnering with Boulder’s Arcana restaurant on March 28 for an event supporting the Boulder Apple Tree Project. The project seeks to locate and identify historic apple and crabapple cultivars in the Boulder area in order to preserve their genetics—and flavors—for future generations. Guests will get the chance to sip four single-varietal crabapple ciders, all made with fruit foraged in the Denver and Boulder area.
If you go: Arcana’s Terroir Thursday featuring Haykin Family Cider is on Thursday, March 28, from 5 p.m.-close. Ciders will be sold á la carte starting at $12 for a 10-ounce pour. If you can’t make it to that event, you can find Haykin ciders at Haykin Family Ciders’ Aurora tasting room (12001 E. 33rd Ave., Unit D, Aurora) and at Denver shops such as Joy Wine & Spirits, Small Batch, and Pear Wine Company.