Is Applejack a bourbon?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Well, let me start by saying that Applejack and bourbon are two different spirits. Applejack is made from apples, while bourbon is made from corn. However, there is a connection between the two.

Applejack, which originated in America during the colonial era, is one of the oldest spirits in the country. It was traditionally made by freeze distilling hard apple cider, a process known as “jacking.” This concentrated the alcohol and intensified the flavors of the apples. The resulting spirit was strong and full of apple character.

On the other hand, bourbon is a type of whiskey that is made primarily from corn. It must also meet certain legal requirements, such as being aged in new, charred oak barrels and containing a minimum of 51% corn in the mash bill. Bourbon has its own distinct flavor profile, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

Now, while Applejack is not technically considered a bourbon, there are some similarities between the two. Some modern producers of Applejack, such as Laird’s, have taken inspiration from bourbon production techniques and have chosen to age their Applejack in used bourbon barrels.

This aging process imparts some bourbon-like qualities to the Applejack, such as a sweet vanilla and butterscotch flavor, along with hints of oak from the barrel. However, the apple character still shines through, giving it a unique twist.

So, while Applejack aged in bourbon barrels may have some similarities to bourbon, it is not classified as such. It remains its own distinct spirit, with a rich apple flavor and a touch of bourbon influence.

Applejack and bourbon are two separate spirits with their own unique characteristics. While some producers choose to age Applejack in bourbon barrels, it does not make it a bourbon. Instead, it creates a delicious hybrid spirit that combines the best of both worlds – the sweet, tart apple flavors of Applejack and the rich, oaky notes of bourbon.