Tag Archives: apple brandy

Laird’s Old Apple Brandy

Nope, American Hooch is not dead yet.  It’ll take more than a move out of NYC and graduate school to get in the way (at least, I hope that’s true).  So to celebrate my first post since June when I wrote about my case of the dreaded and whiskey-ruining Pine Mouth, I’m opening up a bottle of Laird’s Old Apple Brandy.

I’m a fan of American apple brandies, and I try new ones whenever possible, but Laird’s is easily the best-known maker.  Their younger variety (not to be confused with the Applejack) was one of my mainstays back in New York – where it was more readily available than here in Massachusetts.  I haven’t had the opportunity to try the Old Apple Brandy before today however, so I’m looking forward to it.

Aged 7 1/2 years in charred oak and bottled at 80 proof, and apparently made in pot stills, this should be interesting.

Presentation:

I have to admit that the  bottle doesn’t have much going for it style-wise.  The label’s text is in an uninspired script and the background consists mostly of awkward whitespace with some tepid gold flourishes in the corners.  I do, however, enjoy their logo of the brandy snifter wrapped with a starred banner.  The message on the back is earnest in its no-nonsense font, but tries to convince us just how special the bottle’s contents are.

It would have been nice to use something other than the standard plastic-capped bottle for this, but it probably does keep the cost down.

Tasting:

The nose is a lot subtler than the younger Laird’s Apple Brandy, but it comes through with orange peel, soft caramel, and a hint of burning sap-filled tree bark that sneaks through.  It is very soft on the tongue with a well blended mix of flavors: starting of sweet with notes of strawberry, then shifting to a prominent apple flavor and a bit of char pushing forward.  It settles down into a medium-to-long finish of dry grass and a dose of pepper.

Over all:

Laird’s Old Apple Brandy is definitely more refined than their regular Apple Brandy, the age has done it well in that respect.  This is something that you can and should sip slowly.  The flavors are well blended without disappearing.  That said, I think I still prefer their younger, bolder variety.  Still, this is a very nice apple brandy.


Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy

Well!  It’s been nearly a month since my last post – far too long.  I’ve been busy with things like organizing my bourbon collection (finally) and being sick with a pesky summer flu – still have it in fact, so today’s post will be structured a little differently than usual since I’m not drinking at the moment.  However, I haven’t neglected my brown spirits all together, in fact along with some help I’ve made some headway with a bottle of Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy.

lairds_full lairds_empty

I’ve had Laird’s before this, but only their Applejack, which is merely their brandy diulted with neutral spirit – really a disappointing venture in all.  So I was looking forward to sampling their good stuff.  Before going any deeper into this post though, I have to note that the logo for this particular brandy is wonderful, the kind of thing apple brandy distillers should get tattooed on their forearms.

lairds_logo

I’ve written a couple times about apple brandies before, with American Fruits and Clear Creek, and the two seemed to represent a range from young & bright to more mature & mellow – as we’d expect comparing any liquor aged a few months to on aged a few years – but each also represented different approaches to the craft: Clear Creek is openly drawing inspiration from the French traditions around Calvados, while American Fruits seemed to be in more of an experimental mode and at the beginning of crafting what may or may not be a lasting line.

Laird’s is perhaps the standard when it comes to American apple brandies and it employs a process very different from those other two products.  Instead of aging in limousin oak as Clear Creek does, they use charred American oak and age it six to eight years before bottling.  In other words, they follow the same aging process as bourbon.

The result is a brandy that is, at times, more bourbon-like.  It’s a little brighter than Clear Creek’s, but far more apply.  Since I’m not drinking it at the moment (much to my dismay), I can’t go into finer-tuned notes, but I can say that at its full 100 proof, it can be a bit much to take.  I’ve found adding a bit of water brings out the cider qualities, and adding an ice cube or two makes it into a fine casual dram.

All in all, I would recommend giving this a try – just avoid their Applejack.


Clear Creek’s Eau de Vie de Pomme

eaudeviedepommeI’m off to France for the next week, so that means two things for this blog: first, it means there won’t be an entry next week – unless I’m able to find a worthy American liquor over there and get into the blogging spirit, I suppose; and second, it means that in my anticipatory mood I’ve picked up a bottle of Clear Creek’s Calvados-inspired apple brandy to write about.

I first found out about Clear Creek’s apple brandy in the (perhaps not defunct?) New York Times blog Proof, where CC’s Steve McCarthy contributed a few pieces.  I was never able to really get into that blog, which seemed to at once celebrate, nostalgize, and demonize alcohol – a confused premise at best.  However, Steve’s pieces gave me a glimpse into the motivations and processes behind a respected American distiller, especially his emphasis on leveraging a region’s local produce in production.

Now let’s get down to some tasting.

Stats:

- $30-40

- Made by Clear Creek

- 80 proof

Presentation:

Clear Creek’s Eau de Vie de Pomme makes no apologies for its Francophilia.  Everything from the shape of the bottle, to the label coloring, to the script imitates the Calvados style.  With that in mind, I enjoy the crisp lines and simple alignment of the text and border on the label, allowing the flowing script of the French title to stand out without cluttering.

There is not too much information on the bottle itself except the age statement (8 years) and that it has been aged in French oak.

Tasting:

EdVdP is light brown in color – a testament to its eight year aging – but is not as dark as what you might expect from some brandies (though certainly darker than the last apple brandy I wrote about here).  The scent is strongly of cider and quite sweet.  There might be a touch of the wood to the nose as well, but it was hard to pick out from the cidery notes.

On tasting, EdVdP is bright and apply and lingers on the tongue with a tingling citrus and a bit of that French oak.  Despite the apple and citrus, this was not as sweet as the scent would have you believe.

Over all:

Perhaps I’m not as adept at navigating the complexities of brandies just yet, or perhaps I simply shouldn’t expect as much from them in that manner as I should from bourbon.  Either way, while Clear Creek’s Eau de Vie de Pomme is thoroughly enjoyable and I will visit the bottle again, I wasn’t able to draw as much character out of it as I would normally look for.

What I can say, however, is that through the lens of my admittedly limited experience with brandy and Calvados in particular, Clear Creek seems to have done a good job in imitating the qualities of the French liquor.  In the end, it could cetainly stand on its own legs without the comparison.


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