Hvalur is our very first homemade batch of cider, a tribute to the Basque sailors who traveled to remote destinations in the 16th century. It’s made with fresh apple juice pressed in a cider house in Astigarraga, wild fermented and matured for 2 months before bottling. It’s the only Basque style cider that we have crafted so far.
The Basque Country had an important whale hunting industry hundreds of years ago. It’s disappeared nowadays. Cider was an important god in the ships, since water rotted fast. It was also a way to invest in the expeditions and get benefits.
This industry made sailors navigate to Canada and Iceland, where they used to have good commercial relations with locals. They even created pidgins to understand each other. I’m fact, there is a 17th century Basque-Icelandic dictionary. Contains the translation of “balea” as “hvalur”, meaning “whale”. Hence the name.
We keep working on the development of this project. This is still an amateur and experimental cider lab, but we are exploring different opportunities. We are working on a collaboration with a cider house to produce and hopefully market some new small batch ciders. On the other hand, this year we will produce our second “from the orchard to the bottle” batch, with table apples donated by the neighbors of El Valle de Soria blended with crab apples picked up in the forest. By the way, next winter we will plant some cider apple trees too.
This is the last bottle of Hvalur I have left, after having enjoyed a few with friends. I will drink it while I dream about the future of Ciderzale. Cheers!