The process to make Applejack is started at the peak of the apple harvest, in early September. This insures the quality and sweetness of the apples are at their peak. Applejack production utilizes a huge volume of fresh apples each year. It takes 7,000 pounds of apples to produce one fifty gallon barrel of Apple Brandy. As a result, Laird & Company uses several millions of pounds of apples every year. 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 100 proof Brandy contains twenty pounds of apples!
After the apples are harvested, they are carefully inspected, washed, and pressed into pure, sweet apple juice. This juice is then transferred to 20,000 gallon temperature controlled fermenter tanks, 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 the ambient temperature. The fermentation process is monitored constantly, until the sugars in the apple must have been converted into alcohol. The fermented juice, is then pumped to the combination pot/column still, and distillation proceeds. The distilled product comes off of the still at approximately 160 proof. This proof level insures that maximum flavor and aroma are maintained in the distilled Brandy. Currently, all apple distillation is done at our plant in North Garden, Virginia. The apple orchards surrounding our plant in the fertile Shenandoah Valley and environs, 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 into fifty gallon, charred oak barrels for aging. During the 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. The finest barrels are reserved for future ageing for use in our 12 year and 7 ½ year Apple Brandies. US law allows for the use of two year old Brandy to make Applejack, but we age all of our Brandy for a minimum of three years. Laird's Applejack is a blend of Apple Brandy and neutral spirits. Being the youngest of our spirits, our Blended Applejack offers the most fruit flavors and aromas.
Since the first production of Applejack in the late 1700’s, the Laird Family has maintained the time-honored procedures and standards to produce the original, pure, American spirit, Laird’s Applejack.