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Apple-based booze

Apples are synonymous with autumn, complete with the scent of baking apple pies. And, increasingly, with the pleasing aromas of apple-based booze. Flag Hill Farm in Vershire, Vermont, embraces a vintner’s approach to crafting a delicate cider. The 250-acre farm, owned by Sabra Ewing and Sebastian Lousada, is home to some 80 historic and contemporary varieties of apples. Lousada grew up making apple wines in England, and he applies traditional French champagne-making techniques in producing a crisp, handmade “cyder” ($10.99 a bottle) that’s aged two years...

Apples are synonymous with autumn, complete with the scent of baking apple pies. And, increasingly, with the pleasing aromas of apple-based booze.

Flag Hill Farm in Vershire, Vermont, embraces a vintner’s approach to crafting a delicate cider. The 250-acre farm, owned by Sabra Ewing and Sebastian Lousada, is home to some 80 historic and contemporary varieties of apples. Lousada grew up making apple wines in England, and he applies traditional French champagne-making techniques in producing a crisp, handmade “cyder” ($10.99 a bottle) that’s aged two years in the barrel and one in the bottle. It’s cider not out of place in a champagne flute.

In centuries past, those looking for more kick would “jack” their cider by freezing it, then skimming off the ice; since water freezes before alcohol, this boosted the alcohol content. The result was applejack.

The best-known applejack today is made by Laird & Company Distillers, based in Scobeyville, New Jersey. It’s the oldest licensed distillery in the nation, dating to 1780. The company uses Virginia apples to make its apple brandy, which is aged then blended with neutral spirits to create applejack ($14.99 a bottle).

A more refined version of applejack is apple eau-de-vie. In Oregon, the Clear Creek Distillery makes eau-de-vies from Oregon fruits using a pot still and techniques gleaned from distillers in Alsace and Switzerland. The company’s Eau-De-Vie Pomme ($40 a bottle) uses Golden Delicious apples, which are fermented and distilled, then aged eight years in old oak cognac barrels.

Apples are also spicing up vodka. Rich Pelletier, owner of Nashoba Valley Winery in Massachusetts, lamented that so many apples from his orchard went to waste. So he gathered up the imperfect fruit—after first waging a one-man campaign that convinced lawmakers to allow Massachusetts farmers to make distilled spirits—and created Nashoba Valley Vodka ($24 a bottle).

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