Nicely drinkable, Overproof Applejack without tears….
Notes: Unlike many ( OK most) of the small and/or craft distilleries that have sprung up in recent memory Apple Country Spirits definitely fits the profile of what a Farm Distillery should be. While there are a good number of distilleries now in New York State (over 70 active ones) and many use the New York product rules and exemptions which specify they use over 80% of New York sourced products to make their distillates, there are many fewer that would qualify as true farm distilleries in the truest sense of the word in my mind – using products on their own family held land just outside the doors of the distillery. Apple Country Distilling is part of the fourth generation owned Defisher Fruit Farms in Williamson, New York. Comprising about 750 acres of land, the family farm produces cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, pluats, and raspberries. While many of these fruits are sold wholesale, they decided to start a distillery using their fruit to make distilled products.When asked why he would drop a boatload of money on distilling equipment, tasting room, new building and hiring on a master distiller, He was enthusiastic and had a number of thoughtful answers to this question. First and foremost was that he wanted to be sure they did all we could to keep the family farming operation profitable and viable for the next generation an add-on or amplification of this was create a new value added product made from the fruit that they already grow to further the goal of keeping the family farm going and diversify their products. The second part of the answer was a bit more visionary and ambitious “To create a “legacy” for our area of NY. To start a new tradition of Upstate being known as the home of the highest quality fruit distilled spirits in the country “.
The product that anyone in the distilling business makes is almost inevitably of course vodka – but at least his first one Tree Vodka , was not a grain vodka, but a mix of their own apples and water to make a vodka that actually tastes like something with a distinctive smell and taste. It also has the distinction of being gluten-free and as such has a government certified and approved labeling stating it is naturally gluten-free.
This their 100% apple Overproof Applejack, comes from trees on their property, and the entire process of harvesting, fermentation, distillation, bottling, etc., is done on site. In this case, like their other eau de vies, brandies and applejacks, this brandy is distilled in their 250 gallon V copper pot still and taken off at a lower proof to preserve taste and character. Other products include a Cherry Brandy, a Pear Brandy, a Plum Brandy, Peach Infused and Raspberry Infused (not just flavored like far too many) versions of Tree Vodka, an unaged Applejack, an Applejack aged 2 years in oak barrels, along with their Rootstock Hard Cider series.
Appearance: Clear with no cloudiness, oils,On swirling it leaves a light coating o the glass with small tears forming on edge line. or bits floating in it.
First Impression: Nicely apple forward bouquet, very balanced aromas that mask the fact it is 125 proof quite well.
Taste: Nicely smooth oily entry at first with the apples at the forefront then followed my a wave of warmth and then drying finish.
Drinks: One of the unfortunate things about the decline, nay near extinction, of applejack until recently was the decline of peoples awareness of classic cocktails calling for applejack- it just fell off most peoples radar and also did not receive much attention from bartenders who were creating new cocktails.
This is changing somewhat with the revival of applejack and more brands becoming available. One of the enduring classics is a Jack Rose ( but please use a decent grenadine – or make your own, either by boiling down pomegranate juice or diluting a good pomegranate molasses – don’t use the fake red stuff!) this overproof version of the unaged product gives you the opportunity to make . Another good cocktail is the RAF Cocktail a much overlooked cocktail waiting to be revived. As this is a overproof, you can play around with more rustic cocktails as the pioneer would have made. I highly encourage you to google Applejack cocktails and get mixing !
Bottle: Tall clear glass, cylindrical whiskey type heavy glass decanter bottom with beautiful high-grade glass, a medium length neck. All labels are parchment colored paper, front uses a variety of fonts and graphics that give it a slightly antique but handmade feel/impression with a drawing of an apple with eaves and stem. Motto ” Fresh out of the still and into your glass” is one we haven’t seen before but is evocative. Back label has government warning, UPC bar code and Apple Country Spirits logo pointed out by antique of graphic of finger pointing hand. Labels are relatively easily removed so you can reuse the rather elegant bottle with a minimum of fuss and effort for other projects such as infusions, juices, oils, whatever. This is further simplified by the use of a good quality synthetic cork, which not only seals in flavor for the Applejack but also is easier to clean and reuse than a natural cork. Flat black neckwear with pair of thin antique gold/bronze lines and pull tab complete the package.
Other: Naturally gluten-free !
Final Thoughts: An interesting applejack that is quite smooth despite the proof. A hardcore product for hardcore ( and overproof ) enthusiasts
While somewhat minimalist, the pages also includes links to their blog and events that happen on a regular (read biweekly) basis at the distillery