Question: which of the following bottles contains more applejack than the other — the one to the left or the one to the right?
Answer: the one on the left. It is straight apple brandy, or pure applejack. The other one is blended applejack.
That may be confusing to some, but here is the explanation…
In section 5.22 of the Code of Federal Regulations that establishes the legal standards of identity for liquor in the U.S.A., we read:
“apple brandy” may be designated “applejack”
“Blended applejack” (applejack—a blend) is a mixture which contains at least 20 percent of apple brandy (applejack)
Applejack and apple brandy from the U.S.A. are the same thing — both traditionally and legally.
Thus, blended applejack is is made by blending applejack, or apple brandy, with a greater amount of neutral grain spirits. Straight applejack, or straight apple brandy, is the pure stuff. The Scottish analog would be that malt whisky is pure, barley whisky, while blended whisky is a little malt whisky blended with a greater amount of neutral grain spirit. I think of blended whisky as whisky-flavored vodka. I think of blended applejack as applejack-flavored vodka.
I use the older, more traditional term of “straight applejack” throughout my book when referring to un-blended American apple brandy. That should not be misunderstood by anyone as an instruction to use “blended applejack” in any of my recipes!