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Oct 18, 2006 04:22 AM


Can some one out there draw a distiction between applejack and apple brandy?

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  1. There is a book called Wines & Beers of Old New England, in which the author says applejack historically was produced by leaving a barrel of fermented cider out in the cold and periodically removing the ice, which, of course, would concentrate the alcohol.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Dorsch

      This is just what I was told by a very informative friend not to long ago. I investigated a bit and found that this method of creating a spirit leaves certain types of harmful alchohols behind and so has been dropped from use to be replaced by distillation. With a company like Laird's, who makes products called "applejack" and 'apple brandy" I' wonder what the difference is. The Laird's website is unclear on the distiction as well.

      1. re: redhookandrew

        You mean fusel alcohols and other headache producers? I'm really not sure.

        1. re: redhookandrew

          There was a nice article on the Laird's company a while back. I think it was in the NYTimes. A quick internet search will probably turn it up along with links to applejack threads at and/or the Drinkboy site ( Wikipedia probably has info too.

          IIRC "applejack" was indeed the term for high proof cider made by removing the ice from hard cider that had been frozen. This is different from apple brandy in that apple brandy is distilled in order to achieve the higher proof (and a superior product).

          Laird's Applejack is a blended apple brandy. That is, similar to blended whiskey, it's straight apple brandy blended with neutral grain spirits. Laird's originally called their product apple brandy but changed the name to applejack at some point. I assume it was a marketing decision and that it preceded the changing of the product from a straight apple brandy to a blended but I'm not sure.

          I also assume that the the current products Laird's is calling apple brandy are straight apple brandy.

          This is all off the top of my head but I think I've got my facts straight. Regardless, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes of surfing to confirm or disprove the above.

      2. I think the original applejack was a killer, and I mean literally. Just pulling the ice out of a fermented juice leaves you with a higher-proof alcohol along with some nasty, nasty stuff! You can bet anything called applejack today is not made in the traditional way of freezing it. But I can understand why they would use the word applejack, as it has kind of a nice ring to it.

        1. applejack is apple brandy. not all apple brandy is applejack. it's basically an unaged, more rustic version. calvados, on the other hand, is a very aged brandy. btw, as far as the ice thing goes, how bad could it be, if you drink the hard cider anyway? as long as it's been fermented properly.....?

          1. Traditional applejack made by freezing multiple times and removing the ice each time concentrates the bad alcohols and other crap (methanol and fusel alcohol) that are removed in distillation. Lairds which is the only maker of something called applejack in the US distills it and in actuality it is a apple based spirit. It is a blend of apple brandy and neutral spirits and not a traditional applejack. Because it can be lethal, it is illegal in many parts of the world to make traditional applejack.

            1. Applejack is either freeze distilled or traditionally distilled from hard cider. Apple brandy is made via traditional distillation, but from apple wine, NOT cider.

              1 Reply
              1. re: stevencclark

                Sorry, incorrect. Basically applejack and apple brandy are the same thing. In a legal sense you can use either term. Especially since no one uses "freeze distillation" anymore.

                Apple wine and hard cider are also technically the same thing. Apple wine may have sugars or apple concentrate added to raise the abv. to 10%+ while hard cider tends to be lower than 6% abv. but there are exceptions. Some may say that hard cider is fermented from pressed juice, while apple wine is fermented as a whole fruit puree, but the difference is meaningless.