Tag Archives: hudson valley

Harvest Spirits’ Pear Brandy

pearbrandyBack on the brandy train I guess.  This time, however, will be the first non-apple brandy I’ll have written about.  This time, I gone with pears.  Pears don’t have quite the same aura of Americana that apples do – no Johnny Pearseed, for instance.  In fact, according to this map of the pear harvest from Wikipedia, the only place where pears are grown in the US is the Northeast.  Fortunately – that is where both I and Harvest Spirits are based.

Harvest Spirits also seems like and interesting operation.  First of all, if their distiller’s notes are at all accurate, they’re quite new – about as old as this blog is, in fact.  Secondly, their main product is an apple-derived vodka, a spirit I’ve only tasted once when Ralph Erenzo from Tuthilltown Spirits ran a tasting at a nearby liquor store.  Finally, they actually have a decent website.

Stats:

– $25ish

– Made by Harvest Spirits

– 80 proof

Presentation:

There’s not much to their bottle.  It’s tall and slim with a textured label that almost completely wraps around the bottle.  The name “PEAR” falls vertically down the front and is topped with the eponymous fruit.  The back of the label has a small block of text that begins with the over-dramatic statement: “Pear.” before going on the describe the brandy in sparse terms and suggesting that you serve it chilled.

Tasting:

This definitely smells like fresh distillate.  It’s sweet, with pear, and something almost oily to the scent.  On tasting, there’s an immediate and very full mouth feel.  To its credit, it is not nearly as harsh as the aroma, but at the same time there isn’t as much of the fruit to it as I’d hoped, or as much as you might expect after tasting so many apple brandies.

Over all:

This is a pretty descent brandy.  I would really like to see this after a bit of aging to smooth some of the rougher edges.  That said, impressive mouth feel and solid pear-essence comes through.  I would recommend chilling it though.

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American Fruits Apple Brandy

Just when you thought you were reading a blog devoted to whiskey, I pull out a brandy: an American spirit to no lesser degree however.  In fact, brandies – specifically apple brandies – have probably been in production in the US longer than grain whiskey of any type has.  Colonists in New England distilled hard cider into applejack using the freeze distillation method, resulting in a harsh beverage full of fusel alcohols.

Fortunately Warwick Valley Wine Company (NY) does not rely on freeze distillation to make their apple brandy.  Rather they use a copper pot still to refine their spirit, much to the drinkers’ advantage.  They also age it for one year in New York oak.  I’m a little doubtful that such a young bottling will be very interesting, but I am glad to see another product come out of the Northeast.

Stats:

– apx $25

– Made by Warwick Valley Wine Co.

– 80 proof

Presentation:

American Fruits Apple Brandy comes in a tall, thin bottle with a lon neck and a bright red plastic cork-handle on the top.  Instead of a paper label WVWC frosts the the clear glass, with the exception of the outline of an apple in the center.  The front is sparsely decorated with this apple serving as the central adornment.  Other than that and the product information, it shows only the name in two simple fonts.

The back sports the image of Warwick Valley itself and a paragraph relating the friendships at the core of the WVWC.  It comes across as overly sentimental in the way that American wineries can be, but it does get the point across that these guys are a little new to the field of distilled spirits.

Also important to note is that nowhere on the bottle do they put an age statement.  Sure, one year is nothing to trumpet, but youth affects liquor to a gret degree and it would probably be helpful to many prospective buyers to see the age right on the bottle.

Tasting:

American Fruits Apple Brandy smells an awful lot like you’d expect  young apple brandy to smell like: recently distilled alcohol and apples, cider specifically.  It hasn’t spent enough time in the barrel to come into its own or pick up anything significant from the wood.

On tasting the impression is much the same.  As with any spirit so young, the immediate impression is that of the alcohol.  That said, it is not overly harsh and rather smooth compared to something like Georgia Moon.  Perhaps those 12 months did some good after all.  Following this initial sensation, it settles into a pleasant, clean, apply finish that is surprisingly long.

Over all:

This is a good start for the WVWC, but clearly their apple brandy is too young to have anything approaching complexity or depth.  It will be interesting to watch as they come out with an older variety – perhaps a six or four year?  These might begin to reveal their full potential.