Applejack: How the Old Timers Made Booze in Maine

Farm-to-flask has been around since the colonial era, when Americans believed that fermented and distilled drinks were a cure-all for pain and sickness. That’s because applejack was one of the first and most practical ways of producing a higher concentration of alcohol from freezing fermented cider. Maine moonshiners — irritated by Prohibition — could easily forage from their own orchards and produce alcohol with very little equipment at home. They would simply take the hard cider and put it outside to freeze. To give it complex flavors, the moonshiners would take their time to “age” the applejack, by letting charred oak chips marinate in a jar of it. The intense process gave it such names as Jersey Lightning, Corpse Reviver and Essence of Lockjaw. In fact, George Washington was a fan. Today, applejack is required by law to contain 20% apple brandy and no more than 80% neutral grain spirits. The most popular applejack you’ll find is Laird’s Blended Applejack, which is made in New Jersey.