Only carefully selected, whole, tree-ripened apples can be used in the making of Laird's Applejack. Many varieties of apples are used, including Jonathans, Winesaps, Stamens, Pippens, and Delicious apples. Applejack is made at the peak of the apple harvest, in early September to mid-November, and this insures that the quality and sweetness of the apples are at their peakThe apples are carefully inspected, washed, and pressed into pure, sweet apple juice. This juice is then transferred to 20,000 gallon oak fermenter tanks outside the still site, where the juice is allowed to ferment naturally (no yeast cultures or starters are employed). The fermentation process converts the natural sugars into alcohol, and can require from seven to thirty days, depending on temperature and weather conditions. This process is monitored constantly, night and day, until all of the sugar has been converted into alcohol. The fermented juice is then sent to the still, and distillation proceeds, boosting the proof by vaporization and re-condensation, to approximately 160 proof. This proof level also insures that maximum flavor and aroma is maintained in the distilled brandy. Currently, all apple distillation is done at our plant in North Garden, Virginia. The orchards of the fertile Shenandoah Valley amply supply our apple needs each harvest season. The fresh distillate, or Apple Brandy, is then cut with pure water to approximately 130 proof and transferred to 50 gallon charred oak barrels for aging. All brandy is aged for four to eight years. This unusually long aging process enhances the natural apple flavor and aroma. During this aging process, the brandy is periodically checked for taste and aroma to insure that high quality standards are maintained.
When bottling requirements are determined, the apple brandy barrels are selected for dumping. All straight Apple Brandy and "Apple Bond" (100 proof brandy) is made from the older brandy inventory, and can range from six to ten years or more in age. The straight Apple Brandy and Apple Bond is truly "sippin' whiskey", and is especially smooth and mellow in flavor and aroma. Laird's Applejack is a blend of Apple brandy and neutral spirits, and although the brandy selected may be slightly "younger" (only four to six years old), the blend also carries a distinctive fruity flavor and aroma.
Applejack production utilizes a huge volume of fresh apples each fall. It takes 7,000 pounds of apples to produce one 50-gallon barrel of Apple Brandy. In a normal distillation season, approximately 500 to 800 barrels are produced, which represents three and one half to 5 and one half MILLION POUNDS of apples! Translated into "consumer size" packaging, a 750ml bottle of Laird's Blended Applejack contains six pounds of apples, a 750ml bottle of Laird's Straight Old Apple Brandy contains sixteen pounds of apples, and a 750ml bottle of Laird's Bond 100 proof Brandy contains twenty pounds of apples!
Since the first production of Applejack in the late 1600's, the time-honored procedures and standards have been maintained, and Applejack is a pure, native American spirit. This is an especially significant factor in today's trend toward natural, additive-free foods and beverages.
Although the recipe for the production of Applejack has remained unchanged for over 300 years, Applejack packaging has evelved through the years. The oldest bottles were hand-blown and sealed with corks and hot wax, and the labels were hand written. Applejack has been bottled in apple shaped glass bottles and ceramic crocks, and in a variety of sizes. To commemorate the New Jersey Militia of Revolutionary War days, Laird & Company bottled Laird's Applejack in a Minuteman replica bottle
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