So I'm going to start making wine from grapes this year. To that end, I just picked up a grape crusher and a press. With those toys, I can also make cider. There's an orchard near me that grows dozens of varieties of apples. Which ones make the best cider? I know, "best" is subjective but I'm sure there are some types of apples better than others. Should I go "straight varietal" or should i use a blend of apples?
My recommendation is to blend at least three of your favorite eating apples together. Find one that is known for producing a lot of juice. Then chose two others that have interesting flavors. A buddy of mine pressed about 15 pounds of apples last year and got only got maybe a couple gallons of juice.
From what I have read and gleaned from talking with better cider makers than I; the english heirloom varieties are really the best apples for making hard cider from supposedly. You can find some orchards here in the states with these types of apples. There are apples that are grown more for eating out-of-hand, and then there are varieties that were actually bred for making cider from.
Lastly, if you look at cider recipes from winning ciders at the NHC. Many of them are blended apple varieties.