Far from the Tree

Apple Brandy isn’t exactly new, but it’s not widespread either, and craft distillers haven’t rushed into this unique, but delicious genre of the distilling arts.

Part of the holdup? Time.

A successful craft distillery has the wonderful problem of keeping up with the demand for its flagship products, and tackling something like a brandy, that requires even more fermentation, is a tall order. Nevertheless, Watershed found time to ferment some fresh-pressed local cider for a staggering six weeks, which was then distilled and aged in an assortment of barrels over a two year period.

“It’s all charred white oak, but we have different degrees of char, and we use those to impart different flavors and aromas,” said Watershed’s Chris Manis. “It’s very involved, but it produces a very complex product that works really well in cocktails, where different ingredients can play off those flavors.”

It’s true.The cocktails the mixology team at Watershed came up with for sampling proved the versatility of this apple brandy. It plays well with others, whether it’s a sweeter, fruit-forward cocktail like the Ikea Rose, or something like the Big Apple, which balanced the brandy with bourbon. Yet another offering featured the use of mole bitters to impart notes of cinnamon and apple.

On its own, the brandy drinks like a smooth whiskey. Subtle hints of fruit abound, but the vanilla, and butter of the wood come through. A bit of ice or a splash of water releases more of the apple, but this isn’t grandma’s cobbler. This is an easy sipping spirit that begs for a cigar, and a big leather chair in the corner of a room that smells like old books, and musty velvet.

The first run of this Watershed’s apple brandy will likely sell out in a hurry, but Chris assures us that there’s more on hand. This isn’t a highly limited release. Watershed has a couple of batches on the ready, and if you can’t get your hands on a bottle in the immediate future, there should be plenty back on the shelves in time to round out your holiday booze buying.

And yes, this a perfect holiday spirit. This apple brandy would do a great job replacing rum in a toddy, or bourbon in an egg nog. It’s also great mixed with some hot apple cider, if you’re not in the mood to mix up a fancy bowl of holiday punch.

For more, visit watersheddistillery.com