Monday, October 31, 2016
Brandy Law: What is Straight Applejack?
During my Apple Brandy week tasting, I noticed that Laird's and Arkansas Black make something called "straight applejack" or "straight apple brandy," but what is that? To find out, it's time to open up the TTB Regulations, the federal regulations that govern distilled spirits.
Applejack is simply another name for apple brandy. 27 CFR § 5.22(d)(1). There is also something called "blended applejack" which, much like blended whiskey, is a blend of at least 20% apple brandy with grain neutral spirits. 27 CFR § 5.22(e).
It appears that, similar to the way it is used in whiskey, the applejack producers are using "straight applejack" to mean "not blended." Here's the curious thing though, as used in the regulations, the term "straight" only applies to whiskey. There is no definition of "straight brandy" or straight anything other than whiskey for that matter.
With regard to whiskey, "straight" means that it must be at least two years old and is prohibited from having any added coloring or flavoring. There is no similar requirement for straight brandy, so technically, straight brandy could be younger than two years old and have additives (just as other brandy can).
There are also some bottled in bond apple brandies on the market. Unlike the term "straight," which is only defined with regard to whiskey, the term "bottled in bond" applies to any distilled spirit, so you know that any bottled in bond brandy has no additives, is at least four years old and was distilled in a single season by a single distiller.