Anyone who's been to Normandy, France or has a solid interest in spirits knows the wonders of Calvados, the high-proof apple brandy that really packs a punch. However, apple brandy happens to be an American tradition, as well. It's known as Apple Jack and, while the ABV is still high, the finish is definitely sweeter. Black Dirt Distilling—named for the Black Dirt region where the distillery is located, which was a hot bed of Apple Jack production prior to Prohibition—produces a small-batch Apple Jack. It's handcrafted on location in upstate NY and made with the state's apples. Though potent and powerful with the first sip, when that initial strong brandy impact recedes, the tongue is left with the richest fresh apple taste—and it lasts long into the next sip and beyond.
Black Dirt's Apple Jack is aged for at least four years, though most of their batches have been aged at least six—always in American Oak casks. Before that, the apples are pressed and fermented and are then distilled in a Christian Carl copper pot still imported from Germany. For further evidence of quality, Master Distiller Jason Grizzanti actually went to Cornell as a fruit science major before founding the craft distillery. With Apple Jack, he's developed a modern take on something historic that's a little bit sweet and very strong, but balanced all around.
Purchase Black Dirt Apple Jack online from Caskers for $43.
Lead image courtesy of Black Dirt Distillery, other images by Cool Hunting