Meet Applejack

Meet Applejack

Want to read ahead a bit in advance of our first episode?  I have strong expectation that the beverage know as Applejack will be discussed in episode #1.  Ginny Tonic bumped into the beverage while reading this article on Salon.com, a regular reading stop for both of us.

Borrowing heavily from Wikipedia, here’s some history on the beverage…

“Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period.  Applejack was historically made by concentrating hard cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation or by true evaporative distillation. The term applejack derives from jacking, a term for freeze distillation. The modern product sold as applejack is no longer produced using this traditional process.

Freeze distillation is a low-infrastructure mode of production compared to evaporation distillation. Apples and applejack have historically been easy to produce in small quantities. Hard apple cider was an important drink in the colonial and early years of the United States, particularly in areas without access to clean water, but was often considered insufficiently palatable and bulky to store. Rather than consume an alcoholic fruit beer, the cider harvested in the fall was often separated in the winter via freeze distillation, by leaving it outside and periodically removing the frozen chunks of softer cider to a separate container, for consumption or further fermentation. From the fermented juice, with an alcohol content of less than 10%, the concentrated result contains 30-40% alcohol, is slightly sweet and usually tastes and smells of apples. However, freeze distilling concentrates all of the alcohol by-products of fermentation – including methanol and fusel alcohols as well as ethanol. Distillation by evaporation can separate these since they have different boiling points. With easy availability of grain, metal stills, clean water, and eventually pasteurization starting in the mid 19th century, cider and applejack were gradually displaced by other beverages and liquors. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, traditional applejack acquired a stigma as a result of its association with the older production process, and was less economical to produce than some alternatives.”

We’re planning to try it (specifically Laird’s Applejack) for the first time just prior to (or possibly during) the show.  We’ll report back with our full opinion so tune in!

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