Taking the condition of the cider into consideration I had an idea that would allow me to bring complexity into the final product without having to rely on the apples alone. So I have started work on a cysor. Cysor is a blend of mead and hard cider. The blending brings complexity while sharing the strengths of the individual components. For an added dimension, I am playing on some thoughts of Christmas and cold winter days. This means adding in some cinnamon, specifically I will be adding a couple cinnamon sticks to secondary.
When working with fresh juices I do not boil them (though I am not sure how the pasteurization will affect this batch). Pectin is an enzyme in apples that makes the liquid cloudy when it has been heated. Instead of boiling I sterilize the juice by adding crushed cambden tablets. This is a similar approach for stopping the fermentation to retain the sweetness of wines and ciders.
This method makes the process take two days. After adding the cambden it is common practice to allow the must to sit roughly 24 hours before pitching the working yeast. For mine, I also use pectin haze (enzymes that help to stop the formation of pectin). This is added to the must roughly an hour before pitching the yeast.
The most important reason for my choice in yeast type though is champagne yeast tends to be a neutral yeast. For specialty drinks like cider and mead I want to taste the flavors solely derived from the must (well that and specialty adjuncts), this yeast allows them to shine on their own merits. There have been a couple times when I have used different yeasts at the start of fermentation. But those were a choice to bring certain flavor notes into the final product (Belgian yeast strains are great in meads).
The bigger beverages, wines, meads, and big ciders are labors of love. They take a bit of time and commitment to be made well. But as you would find with a big barley wine, the final product is something that you will have for aging to enjoy months or even years after it is finished.
Time for a pint...