Time to Get to Know Apple JackNovember 9, 2012
A few months back I posted about my friend’s Dad’s backyard apple jack he starting making in small batches over the last few years. The process is as gloriously DIY as you can imagine. Pick apples, create cider, ferment cider, freeze outdoors until the water content separates from the alcohol, remove “ice”, drink alcohol. The stuff was amazing and at its core American. Which is why I was so excited to start seeing and hearing about Cornelius Apple Jack from the folks at Harvest Spirits.
Fruit based spirits are nothing new. For centuries the fermentation and in some cases distillation of grapes, pears, apples, plums and much more have been a staple of cultures near and far. But Apple Jack itself, almost more than the Bourbon we all tout as the true American spirit, is directly tied to the ingenuity of the brave colonials who began this great nation (why not a little national pride during election week, right?). Freezing the fermented apple cider in barrels and tapping the liquor from the bottom worked on the same principles as I describe above in the case of my friend’s backyard. And while the product is delicious, inherently apple forward and strong for a purpose, the folks at Harvest Spirits know they can do better.
So without moving away too far from tradition, but relying a bit on some more “modern” technology, the Cornelius Apple Jack from the Hudson Valley is indeed distilled not once, not twice, but actually three times rendering a more refined apple liquor that has a smoothness the freeze distillation simply can’t create. But they aren’t done there. By aging the spirit in previously used bourbon barrels the apple “brandy” takes on some of the residual bourbon characteristics and adds serious depth in flavor. What I also love about these guys is that they are using all the so-called “ugly” fruit for production. The fruit that folks like us wouldn’t buy because of how it looks tend to be perfect for these types of projects. And being that we are making our way into the fall pretty quickly, this is a bottle of booze you’ll want to add to your collection, and quickly.
For those looking to experiment a bit on their own, I have some other ideas inspired by a bit of ingenuity. If you live near a farmer’s market, which so many of us do these days, go take a look at the apple availability and pick up some of your favorites. With the bottles of bourbon and rye, I know you have in your liquor cabinet, begin playing around with apple infusions. Vary the variety, vary the time of infusion, vary the amount of apple used, and you’ll be shocked at how delicious the outcome is. Perfect for sharing with friends and family this Thanksgiving!
*The above picture was taken from Serious Eats.