GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – December 4, 2019The Sagardo Forum is an educational conference about cider, fermentation and apples held in San Sebastian, Spain.  The conference also features a cider competition, held just last month, with hundreds of entries from cider makers around the world.  Ciders were evaluated by international judges from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy.  The competition focused on judging ciders in several different categories and evaluated the best cider making practices used worldwide.

Vander Mill entered a total of 5 ciders to be evaluated this year.  Two of the top ciders made by Vander Mill, Totally Roasted and Vandy, earned silver medals in the Spiced and Modern cider categories.  Totally Roasted is made by soaking cinnamon roasted pecans in dry cider to create a semi-sweet product with hints of vanilla and cinnamon.  Vandy, a lower alcohol product fermented dry and then back-sweetened with apple cider, is easy to drink and is bursting with fresh apple flavor.

The other three ciders entered into the competition were a collaboration between Vander Mill and two Basque Country cider makers, Egoitz Zapaian and Xabier Kamio.

  • GOLD MEDAL, BEST IN SHOW “Maiti Fresh” is a refreshing cider spiced with orange peel, cardamom and star anise. It is slightly sweet with notes of lime and liquorish.
  • GOLD METAL, BEST IN CLASS “Maiti Spicy” is a cider spiced with coriander, hibiscus and fresh ginger.
  • SILVER MEDAL “Golden Friendship” is cider aged in white American oak. It has an herbal dried fruit nose with warm dark red fruit and a robust finish.

“We used the word Maiti in these ciders due to its similarity to the English – Mighty and the literal meaning of the word in the Basque Language – Love.  We think the combination represents this collaboration perfectly. It was a great experience designing new flavor profiles in cider, especially with Egoitz and Xabier.  They bring their own unique perception of flavor and use of ingredients to the process that obviously resonated with the judges.” Says Paul Vander Heide co-owner of Vander Mill.

Edu Coto, the competitions founding organizer say’s “It has been an unforgettable competition. The quality of entries was really high. It is really great to see how ciders made with other fruits and spices achieved such great results, also how American ciders of this style with more experience than Europeans got not just golds, but best of category and Best of show in a collaboration with local cider makers. Great inspiration for many other international cidermakers . Congratulations to Vander Mill, Egoitz Zapiain and Xavier Kamio”.

Egoitz Zapian.  “It is a dream to be able to mix friendship and work into one thing. This has been the first step of a long and fruitful path.”

Maiti Fresh is now available on draft at both Vander Mill locations.


About Vander Mill

 Paul and Amanda Vander Heide started Vander Mill in 2006. The vision wasn’t elaborate: a small-town cider mill where people can feel at home. What started as a small and regionally distributed product, the Vander Mill hard cider brand is now distributed to Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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International Best in Show Award