Varietal base ciders were produced from three varieties of dessert apples (‘Pink Lady®’, ‘Royal Gala’ and ‘Red Delicious’) at pre-commercial, commercial and post-commercial harvest timings. Rapid analytical methods were used to categorise the base ciders, and data analysed using principal component analysis (PCA). The titratable acidity of apple must was significantly higher for the pre-commercial harvest fruit for both the ‘Royal Gala’ and ‘Red Delicious’ varieties. The base cider phenolic content was highest in the pre-commercial harvest fruit for all varieties. ‘Red Delicious’ had the highest total phenolics as determined by spectral analysis and supported by the classification provided by the PCA analysis. The spectral fingerprints of the ciders showed two main peaks at approximately 280 nm and 320 nm indicating phenolic concentrations. Studies analysing characteristics of dessert apple varieties with relevance for cider production will allow for informed decision making for both apple producers and cider makers.