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jackal10

Applejack

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Admin: split from a thread on eau de vie.

Some days ago, I've read here about a US vintage spirit called Applejack, which might be another example of an American eau-de-vie besides Bonny Doon's pear spirit.

Applejack is produced by fractional freezing, rather than by distillation.

Eau-de-vie is usually white and clear, and tastes of the fruit. Serve cold, but not as cold as schnapps or aquavit


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Applejack is produced by fractional freezing, rather than by distillation.

Now that's interesting, I've never heard of such a distilling method.

I checked several net resources, and there seems to be different opinions about the production method. The Laird hompage is under construction, but in an archived page they talk about distillation as well as many other sites. I'm really curious about this product, which seems to have a century old history (1700).

We have a lot of apple cultivation here, an some eau-de-vie producers make different apple spirit from different varieties.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Distillation is illegal, freezing is not (so long as you don't sell it), I've beenn told in the UK.

Traditionally it was done by leaving a keg of hard cider outside in the freezing winter, then draining off the applejack from the ice.

There is an egullet thread here.

I made mine by taking a 5 gallon/25 litre plastic keg of home made hard cider and leaving it the deep freeze for a week or so, then taking the top off and inverting it over a bucket. I guess I got about 3 litres of liquid out. Alcohol depresses freezing point, so the water prferentially freezes out first. At deep freeze temperatures the equilibrium point of water and ethanol is about 25% alcohol.

Its pretty potent stuff, especially as the fusil oils and other nasties are all in there. In distillation the these are discarded (heads and feints). I would fear the effects of drinking a lot of it.

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Applejack is produced by fractional freezing, rather than by distillation.

Now that's interesting, I've never heard of such a distilling method.

I checked several net resources, and there seems to be different opinions about the production method. The Laird hompage is under construction, but in an archived page they talk about distillation as well as many other sites. I'm really curious about this product, which seems to have a century old history (1700).

We have a lot of apple cultivation here, an some eau-de-vie producers make different apple spirit from different varieties.

I think it is likely the case that applejack was produced by fractional freezing at one time, but I believe it is now produced by distillation. It's hard to imagine a large scale industrial operation producing applejack by fractional freezing. Afaik, Laird's is the only remaining producer of applejack.

Dr. Cocktail's book has a nice section on applejack. I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure he says that applejack (at least as we know it -- i.e., as made by Laird's) wasn't officially called "applejack" until relatively recently (i.e., the 20th century) being labeled "apple brandy" before that.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I think it is likely the case that applejack was produced by fractional freezing at one time, but I believe it is now produced by distillation.  It's hard to imagine a large scale industrial operation producing applejack by fractional freezing.  Afaik, Laird's is the only remaining producer of applejack.

Dr. Cocktail's book has a nice section on applejack.  I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure he says that applejack (at least as we know it -- i.e., as made by Laird's) wasn't officially called "applejack" until relatively recently (i.e., the 20th century) being labeled "apple brandy" before that.

Back in the early 70s there was a small apple orchard/commune/producer of apple products in the Lucerne Valley that had a farmstand with many varieties of apples not commonly grown in SoCalif. They sold unfiltered cider, home canned applesauce and apple butter and an "under the table" more potent product.

As a friend of one of the people from whom they were leasing the land, I got a tour of their place and a demonstration of their technique for upping the alcohol content of their "hard" cider which was also a non-licensed operation (they had a few others, all of the horticultural type :blink: )

They "stored" the cider in stainless steel kegs or barrels, which were simply the containers used in bars but with the tops cut off. When the fermentation had produced a certain level of alcohol, they put a steel jacketed pressure container into the liquid and charged it with liquid nitrogen which immediately acquired a casing of ice and effectively pulled 90% of the water out of the liquid which was then bottled (or rather jarred, in quart or pint jars.)

I can't drink alcohol at all but friends who tasted the stuff said it was extremely potent.

I was given a little 1/2 pint jar of the stuff which I used in a recipe for pork with apples, in which I would ordinarily have used Calvados. It turned out quite well.

The group disintegrated after a few years, although the apple orchards are still in production, and still have most of the rarer (for this area) apple trees and sell to very upscale markets and at farmer's markets. The orchard was featured on one of Huell Hauser's PBS segments a few years ago. I recognized the house and outbuildings from my visit there some 30 years ago.

Liquid nitrogen is not that difficult to obtain. We have a large cylinder of it in the office as one of the doctors uses it for cold cautery.

It only takes a very small amount to charge one of the cylinders.

They had previously used dry ice but had some trouble with it cracking the containers keeping it from contact with the liquid.

Anyway, it is not far-fetched that a small company could use ice extraction as opposed to distillation. It requires much less equiment and the components are easier to hide.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Applejack is produced by fractional freezing, rather than by distillation.

Now that's interesting, I've never heard of such a distilling method.

I checked several net resources, and there seems to be different opinions about the production method. The Laird hompage is under construction, but in an archived page they talk about distillation as well as many other sites. I'm really curious about this product, which seems to have a century old history (1700).

We have a lot of apple cultivation here, an some eau-de-vie producers make different apple spirit from different varieties.

I find this interesting as I live a mile or two from the original Laird's distillery, the oldest continually operating distillery in the country. Robert Laird was a Revolutionary War Soldier under the command of George Washington. When the troops were in the Monmouth County area, the Laird family supplied them with AppleJack.

There is a detailed account of the Laird history HERE.

Dr. Cocktail's book has a nice section on applejack.  I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I'm pretty sure he says that applejack (at least as we know it -- i.e., as made by Laird's) wasn't officially called "applejack" until relatively recently (i.e., the 20th century) being labeled "apple brandy" before that.

In 1717 the Colts Neck Inn, Colts Neck, New Jersey, was built by a Laird ancestor as a stopping place for stage coaches and dispatch riders traveling from Freehold to Amboy, New Jersey. The first physical records referring to the commercial distillation and sale of AppleJack were entered in Robert Laird's account book of operations in 1780. Although, the distribution and sale of AppleJack undoubtedly occurred approximately 100 years prior to this date.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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This is the passage from Dr. Cocktail's book I was thinking of:

William Laird made his first batch of applejack in 1698. . . . Before the 1950s, most commercial brands called their product apple brandy, as did Laird.  "Applejack" was really just a slang term . . .

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Applejack and Apple brandy are different, at least this side of the pond.

The freezing an filtering process is known as jacking, and hence Applejack.

Brandy is distilled, and of higher alcoholic concentration. Tastes different, from being boiled as well.

Calvedos is apple brandy, not applejack. In the UK the Somerset Cider Brandy Company http://www.ciderbrandy.co.uk/ has started distilling again. Good stuff too.

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Applejack was called applejack all the way by in colonial times and did not really differentiate between distillation methods. As a matter of fact, even back then, steam distillation was highly preferred. Cold distilling makes a gut-wrenchingly awful product and was only used at times of dire necessity. In those days what REALLY divided apple brandy so-called from what was termed "applejack" was the aging of one and the lack thereof upon the other. No commercial product put the term "applejack" or "apple jack" on a label until the 20th century, and then it was synonymous with apple brandy.

--Doc

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Lairds makes an excellent 7-year-old Applejack and a phenomenal 12-year-old (which comes in a really nice looking, apple shaped bottle) that they sell in limited quantities typically during the holiday season. I have a few bottles of these, its great stuff.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Laird's applejack is normally found in the form that is blended with neutral spirits, yes? Is this the form that one would want to use in cocktails, or would a straight version make more sense? All I have in blended, but it doesn't seem to have a particularly strong flavor and I could swear the last bottle I had had a much more pronounced flavor.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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What remains consistantly interesting to me is the utter difference between even the most cursory Calvados and the most carefuly crafted American apple brandy. Laird's flagship product shows it, St. George's did too. They ALL do. I've had 1913 American apple brandy which has the same character - which is utterly different than Calvados character. I'm not trying to create thread about which is better (Calvados), but rather why someone (we) can't or doesn't/don't embark on a process to match the character of the other non-superior (superior, Calvados) product. I've never had a serious American apple brandy I didn't respect (dislike is another matter). Applejack, so termed, is different. I love the whiskey character and I know it is pretty much just for mixing. Those with pretentions to the snifter, however...man, maybe it's just me, but how does that Normandy rotgut get its flavor? We can't seem to achieve it.

--Doc.

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Well, to be perfectly honest, its got to be in the type of oak barrels used (French Limousin or Troncais, versus American oak) how old the oak barrels are, and also the length of the aging process. A really good XO calvados is going to be aged for at least 15 years. I have a Coeur de Leon Calvados that is 25 and a 1963 vintage Calvados that was disgorged in the late 90s. The Laird's 12 is pretty close to a vintage calvados but not quite, it just doesn't have the years on it. The Normandy apples that are used to make cidre bouche and Calvados are also different.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Ahh, the post of my dreams!

Being dilatory and a sluggard, it was only yesterday that I made an acquaintance with the good Doctor's posts, and may I say that now I weep for the days spent without his expertise!

Being a Michigan boy, the apple is a subject near and dear to my heart

And, finally, being a dramaturg and a drunkard, Applejack has been an area of interest for me for quite some time, waxing or waning depending on the project or book in which I am immersed at the moment.

Most recently this was upon rereading The Sun Also Rises and being intrigued by (is it?) Bill Gorton's proclamation that he has "just drunk [insert improbable number] Jack Rose cocktails." Needless to say, an investigation was in order. I began with my trusty copy of David Embury, and ended, inevitably, with eGullet's own Drinkboy.

So, garden-variety Laird's applejack in hand, I mixed up a batch. I was about to put the insipidity of the resulting mess down to Lost Generation high spirits :sad: ...err, exuberance when I was struck with an inspiration: assuming that the Parisian barkkep would have substituted Calvados for the difficult-to-procure appleack, I reached for my bottle of Steve McCarthy's wonderful Clear Creek Apple Brandy and quickly had to lips a refreshing new favorite!

So, I guess the point of this post is to call attention to that fine product (perhaps already addressed in the eau de vie thread?), and to urge consultation of Annie Proulx (yes, THAT Annie Proulx) & Lew Nichols' very useful book Sweet & Hard Cider: Making It, Using It, & Enjoying It .

And yes, by all means let us encourage a revival of interest in this fine old American libation!

Cheers!

edited for spelling, to clean up a little formatting, and to apologize for my haste in posting now that I have seen that the Jack Rose is covered in Dr. Cocktail's book (of which I have just ordered a copy) and that Clear Creek is, in fact, mentioned on the eau de vie thread...

Hope the Proulx reference helps, though... :wink:


Edited by Cesar's Ghost (log)

cg

"...plant a tree for Cesar"

--M.F.K. Fisher

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I am a big fan of Lairds Applejack, and like to create recipes that will help resurrect its popularity. Coincidentally, Lisa Laird was in my bar last night, and promised to drop off a bottle of their bonded (100 proof) brand. Thoughts of real "Apple Manhattans" ran through my head with the possibility of this potent "-whiskey-".

The bonded is not available in New York, but hmmm....maybe with a little bit of prodding....

Anyway, here's a Thanksgiving cocktail for you. It's tart/bitter/strong; but it is insidious as you cannot detect the alcohol. It goes very well with most game dishes, and acts as a continual palate cleanser. Enjoy!

Applejack Cobbler

2 oz. Lairds Applejack

1 oz. Fresh Cranberry sauce (recipe on ocean spray bag)

3, half-slices of orange (or 3/4 - 1oz fresh orange juice)

1/2 oz Punt e mes

1/2 oz Berentzens Apple Schnapps

1 barspoon Al Wadi Pomegranate Molasses

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Garnish: Cape Gooseberry with "onion paper" skin peeled backwards and hooked over the rim of the glass.

Measure all ingredients into a mixing glass. Muddle WELL. Shake hard to at least a 10 second count, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with gooseberry. The color should be an opaque, ruby red---dark and bloody in effect.

Audrey

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Yay! Sounds interesting. Very Thanksgivingish as well.

I, too, would love to get my hands on a bottle of their bonded stuff.

I don't know if you saw the thread where Splificator and I were talking about making a "Subway Cocktail", but I've been thinking about applejack a lot myself. My effort at an applejack-based cocktail is below. I'd very much like to see how it tastes using bonded straight applejack instead of the usual blended product. I like the rough-around-the-edges, old-school aspects of regular Laird's blended applejack, but I do wish it had a more assertively apple-y flavor.

Here is my humble attempt at a cocktail with Laird's from the Subway cocktail thread.

1.5 oz : applejack

1.0 oz : straight rye whiskey (101 proof is what I've been using)

0.5 tsp : yellow Chartreuse

0.25 oz : fresh lemon juice

0.25 oz : 1:1 simple syrup

dash : Fee Bros. aromatic bitters

Shake hard with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon and a clean NYC subway token.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Sam, now that sounds delicious! I love the idea of working some yellow chartreuse in there....

I'll let you know when I get the bottle of bonded, and then lets try some recipes with it.

Audrey

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Good article on applejack and Laird's in the NY Times recently.

"The trend has been to lighter drinks," Lisa Laird Dunn said. "Until the 1970's, our applejack was pure apple juice, fermented then distilled. Today, at 80 proof, it's a blend of about 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits." Federal regulations also require that applejack be aged four years in used bourbon barrels.

The unblended style has not been abandoned. There is Laird's 100 proof Straight Apple Brandy; Laird's 80-proof Old Apple Brandy, aged a minimum of seven and a half years, and the family's pride, Laird's 88-proof 12-Year-Old Apple Brandy, aged in charred bourbon barrels.

I recently got my hands on some of the bonded stuff. It's amazing, with real apple flavor and still with that "whiskey-like" character.

Interesting to read that they only started blending with neutral spirits in the 70s. Makes me think that the bonded stuff is a much better choice for the classic applejack drinks.

The article also touches on some of the discussion areas upthread regarding distillation versus fractional freezing:

By the 1670's, according to the Laird archives, almost every prosperous farm had an apple orchard whose yield went almost entirely into the making of cider. Hard cider - simple fermented apple juice - was the most abundant drink in the colonies. Much of it was made by leaving apple cider outside in winter until its water content froze and was discarded. About 20 years later, farmers began to distill the hard cider into 120-proof "cyder spirits," which soon became known as applejack.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Good article on applejack and Laird's in the NY Times recently.
"The trend has been to lighter drinks," Lisa Laird Dunn said. "Until the 1970's, our applejack was pure apple juice, fermented then distilled. Today, at 80 proof, it's a blend of about 35 percent apple brandy and 65 percent neutral grain spirits." Federal regulations also require that applejack be aged four years in used bourbon barrels.

The unblended style has not been abandoned. There is Laird's 100 proof Straight Apple Brandy; Laird's 80-proof Old Apple Brandy, aged a minimum of seven and a half years, and the family's pride, Laird's 88-proof 12-Year-Old Apple Brandy, aged in charred bourbon barrels.

I recently got my hands on some of the bonded stuff. It's amazing, with real apple flavor and still with that "whiskey-like" character.

Interesting to read that they only started blending with neutral spirits in the 70s. Makes me think that the bonded stuff is a much better choice for the classic applejack drinks.

Anybody know anything about a brand called Captain Applejack or how it compares to the 100 proof Laird's? Apparently Captain Applejack is also a Laird product. One of my local shops carries the 80 proof Laird's, the Laird's 7-yr and the Laird's 12-yr but instead of carrying the Laird's 100 proof they carry the Captain Applejack 100 proof. At $16 I was thinking of giving it a shot.

Thanks.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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As far as I know, Captain Applejack is the same as Laird's Bonded. My favorite applejack cocktail these days is a simple "throwback" Applejack Cocktail:

2 oz : Laird's 100 proof applejack

1 tsp : 2:1 demerara simple syrup

2 dashes : Fee Brothers aromatic bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fat lemon twist.

gallery_8505_1301_41133.jpg


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Article on Laird's Applejack in the Washington Post, Wednesday:

Lisa Laird Dunn has a problem. She has a 225-year-old product that appealed to George Washington a whole lot more than it does to the generation of the Bush twins.

Renewed Spirits-Applejack Distiller Aims For a More Hip Crowd

Does anyone know the percentage of neutral spirits in the bonded applejack? The 80-proof is only 30% brandy.

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The bonded applejack is 100 proof and 100% aged apple brandy.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Admin: Merged in from the <a href=http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=72982>Pegu Club thread</a>.

Slkinsey, myself and Eric_Malson were at Pegu last night and --  wait for it...

wait for it...  Audrey now serves Lairds bonded applejack.

Yes friends -- Audrey has convinced they distributor that there is indeed a market for the bonded stuff, and yes, people really, really want it.

If you haven't tried Lairds Bonded, you really are missing something.  You should head down there and try a jack rose with the bonded and house made grenadine.  Awesome beyond words.

So phase one of the master plan is complete -- on to phase 2.  Getting the local liquor stores to carry it.

Congrats Audrey, and also thanks to slkinsey for being a huge applejack evangelist as well.

john

What's the difference between bonded and not bonded? Is that the same thing as statically aged and not blended, like a single barrel?

I have a few bottles of the Laird's 12 year old that was produced for the market a few Christmases ago. Good stuff, I'd compare it favorably with some of the much more premium (and far more expensive) Calvados I have.

The 7 1/2 year old is also quite nice, it makes a great Stinger. I like combining it with cinnamon schnapps, such as Goldschlager, to make "Goldstingers" with it.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Here's a link to a photo of the Lairds line:

http://www.lairdandcompany.com/products_spirits.htm

Click on the second photo, the one on the bottom, for a closeup. The "Bonded" is also a 7 1/2 year old like the regular 7 1/2 year old. From what I see on the web, the term "Bonded" (as it applies to Bourbon whiskey) simply means it is made under government supervision in a bonded warehouse and has to be produced in a single year, in a single season, and cannot be bottled until it is 4 years old. It also has to be at 100 proof.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottled_in_bond


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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