A nicely done pear eau de vie or brandy at a competitive price
Notes: Unlike a number ( OK most) 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 60 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 using reverse osmosis fear of flavor water to cut it, 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 Pear Brandy, also 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 vendome copper pot still and taken off at a lower proof to preserve taste and character.. Other products include a Cherry Brandy, Peach Infused and Raspberry Infused (not just flavored like far too many) versions of Tree Vodka, a real 100% apple Applejack aged 2 years, an unaged Applejack and a Overproof Applejack along with their Rootstock Hard Cider series.
Appearance: Clear with a very slight yellow cast to it from resting in oak barrels. Nicely oily and slightly viscous in appearance, with a medium weight body left on swirling which transitions from legs to tiny droplets as the edge line retreats
First Impression: Lush pear smells with hints of vanilla, char, tobacco and dried fruit overlaid with a pleasant pear oiliness to it giving the eau de vie both complexity and depth.
Taste: Nicely oily entry with a sweet then drying mouthful which as I said starts sweet and oily then dies nicely and seems almost crisp. Lovely taste of both the fruit and the oiliness of the skins with the tannins and vanilla of the oak compliment each other quite nicely, creamy, pear with a nice medium long fade.
Drinks: While it may be hard to name a cocktail offhand that calls for a pear eau de vie, even for experts, they are worth seeking out. One excellent if slightly complicated cocktail is the Dangerous Orbit Champagne Cocktail by Eben Klem, another less complicated cocktail is a Pear Brandy Sidecar , a number of good ideas from our friends at St George Spirits can be found here, and for the completely obsessive please visit this page on Yummy for a plethora of pear eau de vie ideas. Suffice to say this eau de vie plays well with other ingredients, is not overly sweet and has delicate touches of wood that add to the structure of a cocktail – in short not some sugary mess of chemicals and cheap grain alcohol like some attempts at pear brandy – it’s the real deal.
Bottle: Clear glass ½ size (375 ML ) bottle, this is a convenient size for both price and ease of use. Smaller size ensures that you won’t have to worry nearly as much about the eau de vie oxidizing or losing its charm before you use it up, and also avoids making a sizable investment in something that while great, you may not use a lot of at any one time.Simple graphics on a parchment colored label gives it an older feel and the design and graphics make it subtle yet easy to spot. Synthetic black cork ensures a tight seal to keep everything fresh.Label is fairly easy to soak off if you care to reuse the bottle for infusions, oils, etc after you have emptied it of eau de vie.
Other: Gluten free
Final Thoughts: A well made product made with dedication and in small batches, While not quite a European style eau de vie it compares quite well to the American pear brandies.
While somewhat minimalist, the pages also includes links to their blog and events that happen on a regular (read biweekly) basis at the distillery