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.


Maria Jette said...

Greetings from drizzly Minneapolis. I came to your blog thanks to a Hot Scotch and Lemon reference (I'm a Wodehouse buff), but was quickly ensnared by your reportage on applejack et al.! I'm a fan of the plain old Laird's, and have been since I first discovered calvados' charms back in the 80s, when I couldn't afford it. I've always found the garden variety Laird's a great blender, and when I fell in love with vintage cocktails back in 2004 or so, sought out a superior grenadine so I could have a proper Jack Rose (Routin 1883's "Grenade" is made from pomegranate, and is excellent). A couple of years ago I was asked to devise a new cocktail for a promo appearance for a concert (in which I was appearing), and here it it. I'd had a bottle of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram around for some time, and wanted to try it; and liked the idea of 3 different forms of apple "juice" going into it. It's spicy, tart, and likeable. Good hot, too.

If you've got a bottle of the basic Laird's lying around, and aren't all that interested in it, mix up a few batches of these for your holiday party!

Three Apples Cocktail (for 2)
3 oz apple jack (American apple brandy)
3 oz organic apple juice or cider
1 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
.5 oz apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s)*
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Measure all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, and shake thoroughly until very cold.
Strain into cocktail glasses; or serve on the rocks.
Serves 2.

Andy said...

Immature brandy only applies to Grape Brandy, Apple or other fruit brandies have no required age

sku said...

You're right Andy. Thanks for the correction!