Cornelius Applejack

It’s been too long since my last post, but I’ve got something I’m excited about to kick off the new year: Cornelius Applejack.  Anyone who has read a few entries on this blog has no doubt encountered the fact that I am a big fan of American apple brandies and take every opportunity to try one.  So, seeing this new entry at Astor Wines a couple weeks ago made my day.

Cornelius is made by Harvest Spirits – whose Pear Brandy I’ve written about before – located in upstate New York, which also happens to produce an incredible volume of apples every year making it the perfect place to produce an apple brandy.  The last I’d checked their site, this was still not in production, but apparently I’m not the first to get my hands on it: my bottle numbered batch 2, bottle 55.  Hopefully it will live up to my excitement!


– $40ish

– 80 proof

– Made by Harvest Spirits


Though a standard 750ml, the bottle does seem heftier than most on the shelf.  This is probably a result of the cylindrical shape that narrows slightly toward the bottom.  The edges are clean and sharp and the text almost gets lost among the pale yellow/brown of the contents.  What ends up standing out most is the bottle numbering at the base as it’s the only completely opaque and sizable element.

Instead of having text on the back as most liquors do, Cornelius has a few sentences of description running down the side.  It tells us of the applejack’s namesake, a bit about the production (distilled cider, aged like bourbon), and very defiantly that there is no added grain alcohol – lest anyone think this is Laird’s Applejack.  Overall this is an attractive bottle that places a good amount of emphasis on its contents rather than showmanship.


I’m surprised how pale this is, so I think it must not have spent too much time in that charred white oak.  It does, however, smell very much like a bourbon: a dry, spicy char to the nose with a bit of dry grasses and honey in there and (of course) apple.

On tasting, it opens fairly sweet but not so much with apples; it’s more of a strawberry flavor in that first impression.  This gently melts into an oakiness with strong vanilla streak that spreads out across your entire mouth.  The finish is long for an apple brandy and medium-spicy.  Their triple distillation really comes through in the silky smoothness throughout the whole experience.

Over all:

Wow.  I was not expecting this at all.  This is a fantastic spirit, but it tastes like no other apple-based spirit I’ve ever had.  This is more like a very smooth, friendly vanilla-centric bourbon with just the right amount of spice and heat at the end to make it interesting.  I really am impressed with Cornelius.  Hopefully Astor will re-stock it soon!


6 thoughts on “Cornelius Applejack

  1. I was lucky enough to pick up a bottle from the first batch. After having their Core Vodka, and checking out their website, I was excited for this spirit as well. I was completely caught off guard when I saw it at the liquor store. The taste is delicious, very good for sipping. I wish it was a little more ‘appley’ but I’m quite satisfied with it.

  2. I just had my first go at Applejack and of course Laird’s is all I could find. Thanks for sharing – I’ll have to be on the lookout for some Cornelius. Wouldn’t want to judge all Applejack by the stuff I had!

    1. The Laitd’s Applejack isn’t the best representation, you’re right. Their apple brandy though is one of my standards, you should give that a try to taste the difference.

  3. Hello,
    I was wondering if any one knows how long Applejack would last in a barrel?
    Apparently I found a barrel of applejack in the back of our barn put there by my farther-in-law in the 1960’s.

    Would it turn into something harder or just vinegar?

    Richard Boisits

  4. Couple things about this Apple Brandy make no sense. 60 lbs of apples per bottle? Come on now, that means they’re tossing 3/4 of the distilled spirit when they make their cuts, based on the avg sugar in apples and cider yield from a bushel (45 lbs) of apples! And triple distilled??? WHY in the world would you triple distill a brandy. Thats a neutral spirit trick to make a smooth flavorless vodka. Triple distilling a brandy removes ALL the apple aromatics. Not surprised the tasting notes suggest its more like a bourbon with the principle flavor components coming from the barrel. For that kind of coin buy a Calvados from France.

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