Question: which of the following bottles contains more applejack than the other — the one to the left or the one to the right?

Applejack Quiz

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!

One thought on “Applejack

  1. Andrew:

    In light of the fact that the original applejack made during the 18th and early 19th Centuries was freeze-distilled fermented apple juice (cider), would the French pommeau might be a slightly closer modern equivalent to the original product than apple brandywine, which is probably drier and a bit more denuded of the underlying apple flavours than the original probably had?

    Freeze-distillation, while removing the water – and leaving behind some of the toxic by-products of fermentation – would also leave more of the sugars and apple aromatics behind in the liquid too, yes?

    Having had the honour and privilege of tasting a modern re-creation of the original, there’s no small bit of difference between Laird’s apple brandywine and applejack. Having tried one bottle of pommeau semi-recently – Le Pere Jules 5 Ans – it seems to taste more like the re-created applejack than apple brandywine, at least going my sense memory.

    All the best!

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