What is in an apple jack?

Answered by Jason Smith

When it comes to discussing the composition of an apple jack, it’s important to note that there are two main types: Applejack, which is a type of brandy, and Apple Brandy itself. Both of these spirits are distilled using 100% apples, either the whole fruit or just the juice. Let’s delve into the specifics of each one.

1. Applejack:
Applejack is a type of brandy that originated in the United States, particularly in the northeastern states. It has a rich history, dating back to colonial times. Traditionally, Applejack is made by freeze distillation, also known as “jacking,” which involves freezing apple cider and removing the ice to concentrate the alcohol content. This process results in a higher alcohol concentration and a more robust flavor profile.

The main ingredient in Applejack is apple cider, which is typically made from a blend of different apple varieties. The cider is fermented, allowing natural yeasts to convert the sugars in the apples into alcohol. After fermentation, the cider is then subjected to the freeze distillation process to increase its alcohol content. The resulting liquid is then aged in oak barrels, which imparts additional flavors and complexity to the spirit.

2. Apple Brandy:
Apple Brandy, on the other hand, refers to any type of brandy that is made exclusively from apples. It can be produced using various methods, but the most common one involves crushing the apples to extract their juice. This juice is then fermented using specific strains of yeast, which convert the sugars into alcohol. The fermented apple juice is then distilled, typically in copper stills, to separate the alcohol from the impurities and create a clear, high-proof spirit.

The distilled apple brandy is often aged in oak barrels to develop its flavor and character. During the aging process, the spirit takes on the characteristics of the wood, such as vanilla, caramel, and spice notes. The length of aging can vary, but it is not uncommon for apple brandies to be aged for several years to achieve a smoother and more refined taste.

Both Applejack and Apple Brandy share a commonality in their production methods, utilizing apples as the primary ingredient. However, Applejack is distinct in its freeze distillation process, while Apple Brandy encompasses a broader range of apple-based brandies produced through various distillation techniques.

It’s worth noting that the flavors and profiles of apple jacks can vary widely depending on the apple varieties used, fermentation techniques, distillation methods, and aging processes employed by different producers. These factors contribute to the unique characteristics of each apple jack, and exploring different brands and expressions can be an exciting journey of discovery.

An apple jack, whether it be in the form of Applejack or Apple Brandy, is a spirit distilled using 100% apples, either in the form of whole fruits or just their juice. The specific production methods and aging processes employed by different producers can result in a wide range of flavors and profiles, making each apple jack a unique and delightful experience.