Like many stories, ours begins with the apple.
Naturally, as apple lovers, surrounded by apple orchards, our spirits are made from apples.
New York is the second largest apple producer in the United States, home to more than 700 apple orchards.
The apples that go into our products are all harvested from local orchards producing the state’s signature sweet apples like Spy Gold, Cortland, Kingston Black, and Liberty. The more varieties, the better. Each varietal has a different tannin profile and the tannins are critical to the quality of the final product.
This ubiquitous fruit has an astounding 7,500 known cultivars today and has been found at archeologic sites dating back to 4,000 BC. Sustenance and symbol, the apple is central to cuisine, culture, and myth.
To start, we add a Kosher yeast that works well with apples to the apple juice. This step initiates the fermentation process, converting the fruit sugars into alcohol to produce hard cider. With apples, fermentation takes at least three times longer than with grains.
Then, using 16 and 18 plate, 2-column stills, the hard cider is distilled two or three times. We keep the number of distillations to a minimum to retain the natural essence of our ingredients. With distillation, more does not always equal better, as each distillation can strip away more of the original character and flavors.
The heads, containing an unpleasant tasting alcohol, are removed and the tails containing lower, undesirable alcohols are also removed. Between the two lies the coveted heart —190 proof pure distilled apples — which is blended down to 80 proof with local, spring-fed water and then bottled by hand.
Each batch is numbered and sampled by our Head Distiller, Ken Wortz. It only gets bottled if it meets his standards. This process has yielded an award winning vodka year after year.