It’s so hard to pick just one. And I care about texture, and can’t really separate that from taste… But here goes…
Perhaps the best apple I ever had was a macoun that the wind had knocked into a tall stand of grass. In general, a good macoun is excellent but doesn’t have the very best flavor, but this one was perfectly ripe, perfectly fresh, and fabulous.
Macintosh doesn’t keep, and gets soft and mealy, but has reliably excellent flavor. I buy macintosh apple sauce.
I once had an overripe liberty grown in sunny new Jersey. The texture was horrible, all mealy. But the flavor knocked me over. It would have been a great addition to cider.
Perhaps my favorite apple is ashmeads kernal, which is incredibly sweet, incredibly tart, crunchy, and has a nice flavor. Golden russet isn’t as tart, and is strictly less tasty to my palate, but it’s a decent substitute when I can’t get my ashmeads.
I was really impressed with crimson crisp this year, which was almost as tasty, and is larger, prettier, and easier for me to buy.
For cooking, I love Jonathan. It develops a rich, complex flavor when it cooks and if it’s fresh and not overcooked, it keeps some shape. Later in the season, idared is a nice cooking apple. And caville blanc can make a really nice tart, too.