Back in the day, applejack was what American whiskey was. Way before moonshine, bourbon, all that stuff.. there was applejack. As we moved away from colonial days, and into modern time, this spirit has still for the past 50 years been very much under the radar, but lately it has been sort of coming back. For decades there has always been one name synonymous with applejack and that was Laird's. Laird's boasts itself as America's Oldest Family Run Distillery.
At one point there were actually several producers of applejack, but as time went on Laird's bought them out, leaving themselves to be the only producer of this product. In most circles this would seam like a lecherous act bent on mass producing a product while giving up quality control. If anything it seems the opposite happened, specifically two things. 1) The company wanted to maintain it's love for this product as the premier producer 2) By consolidating the other applejack producers they essentially saved this spirit from extinction. So when you think of applejack you would think of Laird's... until now.
Spending some time with other whiskey fans and spirit connoisseurs, I heard of a very small family run distillery that was run by a husband and wife team. The name was Tom's Foolery and they are out of Ohio. Once again, the pioneering small craft distillery is making things happen. They have made applejack and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle of this stuff. There are currently only 240 bottles of this made, because this is a VERY small producer. Their website is also filled with lots of historical information and techniques on how this product was made so check it out.
I do wonder though how long it was aged, my wild guess is that it wasn't aged very long, probably about 2 years max and that I think is a stretch (who knows)? I've asked the owners about this and hope they will respond soon. Regardless, for applejack this is a great time to celebrate, and this is also a great product. I tasted them both in comparison side by side, and to have even more fun I tried them both in a simple cocktail... the one that makes applejack a win, and that is a Jack Rose.
Please Note that some consider this NOT a fair comparison. It should be noted that the Laird's used in the comparison is blended applejack. It contains GNS (Grain Neutral Spirits). The Tom's is 100% applejack. Laird's does make a 100% applejack product but it's not as widely distributed as the blend. 65% of this Laird's product is GNS.
Check out the review, tasting, and Jack Rose cocktail below. CHEERS!