Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Information about fruit/vegetable type washes.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sat May 26, 2018 3:34 pm

SO! Here's the rundown on my juicyfruit brandy distillation:

I had 8.5 gallons of wash. The first 5 gallons cooked off and I only got approximately 70oz out of it total; the wash was low in alcohol, due to being basically fruit, and juice, no added sugar or invert besides 1lb of Black Treacle and that half gal of pear juice concentrate, but that was not much for a 10 gallon wash. That's right, 10 gal; I left 1.5 gallons in the bottom of the container because it was a mess of trub - remember I added the juicyfruit on top of what was left of my apple cider ferment - and pure and total fruit mush that wouldn't filter even through one super thing layer of cheesecloth.

So the second distillation, 3.5 gallons. I added to this .25 gal of cider backset, the heads and tails I knew were heads and tails from the first distillation of juicyfruit, and my cider heads and tails to punch up the ABV even more, then I topped it off with hot backset straight from the still that was the freshly cooked juicyfruit wash until I had 5 gallons.

For both of these in my thumper was a 32oz charge of: 6oz mango juice, 6oz black cherry juice, 6oz blueberry juice (all these RW Knudsens), 4oz wildflower honey, THEN first run 10oz apple heads 180 proof, second run 10oz juicyfruit heads 170 proof

So the second run was like a normal run; I got 108oz then I stopped collecting. The pot contents were cooled, then dumped out on my side yard lawn; this spot has thrived WAY WAY WAAAAY more than any other area of my lawn. I think in particular my rum dunder has given it a thrill; it was green while the rest of the grass was still dead in late winter/early spring, and it was in need of cutting lol. Anyway.

So that's how I got 77oz of 120 proof for my juicyfruit brandy; I haven't sampled it at all yet, since going onto wood Monday 5/21 with fresh domino of Japanese maple and 6 cubes of light toast French oak, plus a few chunks of Jack Daniels oak barrel chips.

Sad note - the pear juice concentrate I buy on Amazon which is shelf stable, though expensive, at $20 for 32oz bottles, and a HELL of a sugar punch for brandy washes and all natural fruit sugars... Is out of stock but for 17oz bottles, which are $16, and... Seriously, seller? F--- you, man. Just, f--- you. I hope it comes back; one 32oz bottle had 650g of sugar, that's like 1.5lbs of white sugar. I'm currently trying to find another source of PJC because I severely desire to make a rum with a gallon of molasses and a gallon of PJC...
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby The Baker » Sat May 26, 2018 6:23 pm

distiller_dresden said, 'Onto my apple brandy which was now been on wood for 13-14 days. I bought some medium organic Fuji apples today, and just washed the shit out of them (only word appropriate, sorry), I used soap and water and a new scrub sponge, rinsed them very very well, they're draining and drying now. I figure they would offset approximately 5oz in a 750ml/25oz bottle as in the Calvados special expensive offering, though I will fill a 32oz measuring cup with 25oz water and drop one in to see what the offset is, and take note. I can put these in my crisper and they'll keep fresh as they are now for a week or two. I can also eat them if the brandy needs longer than that. ' .....

Same method they use to calculate the tonnage of a ship? 'Displacement'.
On a smaller scale....

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sun May 27, 2018 8:29 pm

Okay, so apples ended up displacing 6oz, but I only had 90oz after proofing to 82, and that wouldn't divide by 19 well (since 750ml is 25oz, that's the bottle size Calvados grows their apple in) -- I got 4.7 jars, I couldn't very well do that, so I ended up with four 32oz jars that were full but about an inch from the top or so once I had the apple in there. Also another issue I'm wondering if I can get suggestions on, please? The apples don't sink, they float. I should've seen that coming -- apple bob at Halloween, duh... They mostly sink, the top maybe 10-15% of the apple sticks out, we'll call it the scalp, in that air space in the top inch of the jar.

So I was debating getting some of those glass pickling weights, but then they are going to offset their own amount of brandy. I have one idea, but I don't know about it, I mean I guess it's sound in a way...

What if I put three or four toothpicks into the top of the apple, 3 in a spread out equidistant pattern, and somewhat sprawled as well, so that when I place the top on the jar the toothpicks hit the top and then push the apple into the brandy completely? This has the added okay quality of toothpicks being wood and completely neutral, not contributing anything or being toxic, and there would only be 3, or 4 if necessary, that's not a lot of wood either. Then I can also keep the top upside down so that the brandy can breathe a little and age off more for angel's share while the apple does its thing.

Side note - when people buy the Calvados for $150 a bottle with an apple inside they are buying 18 or 19oz of brandy for $150. LOL, I'm sorry, I've never had Calvados, but dang man... THAT is a racket.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby CatCrap » Sun May 27, 2018 10:15 pm

Just my quick humble opinion, DD, and i certainly don't mean any offense.. but, you're talking about aging (flavoring) with woods, oak, chips, staves, dominoes, maple, oak, etc etc in DAYS. I almost never work in such short time frames. Maybe you're able to detect these very subtle changes more quickly than i am, or the wood or distillate you're using is vastly different.. but, to me, using wood for aging jars etc, i usually deal in months, rather than days. IDK, maybe i just don't have the time to pay such very close attention to what's going on, but i also believe, that the wood and spirit interaction is not complete in a few days. Yes, you add the maple or oak, and a few days later, some changes have happened. Some color, some sweetness, aromas, flavors. but if you leave that wood in for a week, then a month, then a year, many other different, more COMPLEX changes will take place. In some instances, it may become to intense, for oak, too sweet, for the maple, but that will fade. Then return, then fade again and turn into something more special and complex. So, my fear, is that you're only getting some very light/simple affects from the wood when using them for such a short time frame. I understand the desire for immediate results, and taking ohhhhh so much care not to make a mistake or over oak etc. I do. You've put a ton of time, effort, and expense into these projects, and don't want to make a mistake that can't be fixed. But, oaking and aging, to me, IMHO, are much longer interactions than to be measured in days.. or in under a week. This is a long game thing.

Just my opinion of course It's your booze, and i wan't you to do what makes you happy. But, my advice here, would be to take a jar or two, and set them aside with the distillate, flavorings (minimal i suggest) and wood, and let that sucker sit. And in a month, open it, smell it taste a tiny sip, then seal it back up. And say to yourself that you aren't going to fuck with it, change it, or drink it for 365 days, at least. Wether it's good bad or great. Just to learn a bit about what the potential, good or bad, is for this spirit long term. Because i think that is where the real magic happens. Long aging. I've put down my last couple batches of UJSM and AG NCHooch, and the plan is to go for a year. 9 months minimum. And even then i'll only be taking small amounts off of it. I'll be filling two 5 G barrels soon, so, I'm trying to get to the point, as many of us are, that i'm only drinking whiskeys that are well well well aged. Never younger than they should be, or that they haven't reached their potential.

Again, just spitballin.. no offense intended.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby CatCrap » Sun May 27, 2018 10:37 pm

2 more things.

1st, I believe, that apple is going to sink, sir. When you put oak in a jar, it floats, right? But give it a little time, a few days, whatever, and it get's saturated with spirit and sinks to the bottom. So, don't worry about it. Give it a week or two, and i'm quite confident it will get saturated and sink. The spirit is also going to go to work on that apple and start to break it down a bit and it will sink for sure. Another thought.. you may have been wise to go in at slightly higher abv. Just like doing an infusion, the juices of the fruit are going to mix with the alcohol and dilute it some. So, when you go in at 80 proof, it may dilute down to 75,70, lower? Not sure about this case.. as it's a whole apple, and i have zero experience with this. BUT my reasoning being, that if you end up at lower proof than you like.. well.. not shit you can do about that . but if it ends up a few points higher, well you can always dilute, even with fruit juice or cider if you like. So, i think going in at a higher proof would have given you some safety net and wiggle room. Of course, the end result being 70 proof is not the end of the world at all. I'm sure it's going to drink well no matter what. It's a really cool idea, and i'm excited to hear your results.

Using a jar, that the fruit or apple fits in...... is fucking brilliant man!! Part of the reason they charge 3 arms and 2 legs for the pear/apple in a bottle stuff... is the technique labor and risk (it could turn out to be a "bad apple" after all?) involved. The only way to accomplish this with a normal, thin-necked bottle, on the tree, is to put the bottle over the fruit ON THE TREE, while the fruit is very small, small enough to fit through the neck, and then it grows to full size. So, when ppl look at the bottle they say... "how in the heck did they get it in there!?" You've gotten around this MASSIVE difficulty, by using a jar that will fit your apple! Man.. you are one smart cookie. That idea never crossed my thick skull. I kind of want to copy your idea now! LOL.. I don't think i'm alone though.. i'm sure when others on HD come across this idea they will be inspired as well. Hey, you could do it with all kinds of fruit. Big enough bottle... Pineapple in a jar. Cherry in a jar brandy. Mango, Kiwi,Papaya, hey anything man. This is a very cool idea. Pretty funny that you came up with such a very simple solution. It really is a very large Gimmick factor that allows those bottles to sell for Soooo much. like i said, the whole "wow' factor, is that the pear is larger than the neck of the bottle. but, so what!! I don't care if it grew inside the jar or it didn't. Very nice dd.

How about a couple pics of the apple in a bottle? Why did you choose that apple variety? I know you had mentioned looking for a rather firm/sturdy apple.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sun May 27, 2018 11:18 pm

Hey CC - couple of great entries. First one - I do need to let some of my spirits sit back. I think It would be more applicable if I had a barrel for them to do that kind of longer term aging on the appropriate type of thicker wood that would handle it. Since I just have cubes to work with at best, just recently I have some dominoes but a very small amount, literally 7-8 oak and 3 Japanese maple, they're about 3" long, 1" wide, 1/2-3/4" thick. But it's not like I'm getting any further complexity out of cubes, past a week or two, or these dominoes I'd say a month mayyyybe 6 weeks?

I proved that to myself on the Japanese maple with some whisky; I did a nuclear aging on a domino I used twice, once in a my gen3 cornflake/corn and then I used it in my apple brandy, then I used it in my faux scotch when I did my deathwish wheat germ mod recipe. It was in there for a week and I got no color at all and it had typically colored things up and sweetened them very nicely, I let things wood in these gallon glass jars and sit in front of my sliding glass door, they get sun all day. It really heats them up, and then I put them but a vent so when the a/c kicks on for low cool overnight, they really cool off too. Anyway, nothing. So I nuclear aged it, let it cool to room temp. Almost nothing, no color change, little to no sweetness; I think I used up that domino!

So that's why I'm thinking it's all I can do at the moment and I taste them, there's enough oak coming over in a whisky or rum or something for me, I proof it down. Is it impossible at that point to leave the tops on upside down and for further aging to go on by leaving these jars now, even though they're 80 proof - just talking jars on average? It's the exposure to oxygen and oxidation that's doing the improvement in the spirit, as oxygen reacts with components that left the wood and are in there it becomes more complex and also more smooth over time, yes? I know more specifics about this process but damnit if terminology is failing me at 3am for me... I admit I'm not positive it works at 80 proof, but I thought it does as well there as 120. Anyhow I don't have barrels or anything for proper long term storage, but I am not planning on drinking the apple brandy, but putting it back like it is now with the top upside down for it to do some long term aging. It got some oak in it from the French oak cubes I had in there, and I really didn't want any more oak I guess if I left them longer than it could have changed, but I fear it could have gotten stronger, because the oak only got stronger in there over the time it was. I didn't want much oak in there, I think what's there can mature and mild out given time...

Thanks for the compliment! I was trying to figure out how to duplicate that, and thought well why not apple in a wide mouth jar, use a 32oz jar? I wasn't sure if the apple would macerate or not though, because of the skin. I figure the reason theirs didn't float is because of the neck of the bottle, it doesn't have any choice but to sit its butt in the bottle and drown. I just had an image of the scalp of the apple refusing to sink and being exposed like it is, well I don't know what it would do because even with a loose top it's stuck in 80 proof vapor... But you mean to say nobody has thought of this until me? Wow. Well, jeez, everybody get to jarring up fruit into your brandies!! You gotta use the wide mouth ones, and I had to get smaller to medium organic Fuji apples, but then organic are better because they aren't more plumped by fertilizer, not that it's a bad thing, but think of the local hand-pick strawberries you get and their flavor, then the big golf-ball ones you get in the store. Sure they look better, but which tastes better?

Plus big ones wouldn't fit; smaller is better. Hehe. I'll get photos of Dresden's Pomme Prisonniere D'American tomorrow!

I went with Fuji by looking at an apple chart I Googled. I looked at firmness, really Cranky was a lead there saying I should look for the firmest apple I could so it would stand up to the brandy and last, and then I looked for the absolute sweetest I could find that was also firm, because why am I putting it in there if not to add sweet apple flavor/apple juice? I certainly wouldn't want a granny smith in there, they're SUPER hard, but, well I mean maybe someone would want super tart apple brandy, but not me, and I don't think that it is a common demand or commonly appealing...

I think this would work really well with peaches, instead of 'ripe' peaches, using some of the just 'pre-ripe' peaches you get when they are still really firm. I think it would just start to soften a very little bit before the alcohol took it over, when it's sugars were starting to get to that 'sweet' spot, but the peachiness was still strong too?

Hey, I just got a couple half-gallon jars in the mail today - perfect for a small pineapple lol. Or a mango! That would be wild.

I really WANT to be able to put something back for months to a year; I have plans to buy a couple BadMo barrels, I'm waiting on a reply, I talked to him a couple weeks ago, but it's gone radio silence again so I don't know what's up...
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Mon May 28, 2018 7:53 am

Dresden's 2018 Pomme Prisonniere D'American
pomme prisonnierre.jpg

That color is all Japanese maple domino, btw -- maybe a little little bit of light toast French oak cubes but it was taking that color long before I put them in. It was a LOT darker, dark brown, before I proofed it down.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby cranky » Wed May 30, 2018 7:03 pm

Mine tends to get a lot lighter when I proof it down too but I feel the flavor is retained in spite of the color.

I think the apples will sink before too long as well.

I also think even in a jar with chips or cubes the spirit benefits from a relatively long aging period on the wood.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Fri Jun 01, 2018 1:50 pm

Yeah, the flavor from the maple is still in there, just some of the color lightened because the solution was diluted a bit with some water, but the flavor and sweetness from the wood was a lot more than 23oz or something of water would have knocked out.

I hope the apples sink. They are still floating right where and like they were when I got that photo. There's a bit of something in the bottom of the jars, I think it's extra wax from the apples, because nothing more has built up in the past few days, just what initially formed. I'm going to strain the brandy and redo the jars to see if anything else forms. I may also do my toothpicks idea if these apples don't sink soon because I don't want the exposed part of the apple risking turning like an apple in air would, since I want to leave the lids loose for the brandy to age until fall/angels' share.

For wood reference, I am leaving the wood in my juicyfruit brandy since y'all advised me here. I put the 'spent' (as I see it) maple domino from the apple into my juicyfruit also, so it's got a couple of Japanese maple dominoes in there. The fresh domino it has though has darkened it up quite a lot. I'll get a pic and post it this weekend some time. I have 3 light toast French oak cubes in it, and a few large JD barrel chips in there too, which had previously been in the apple brandy. It's aging nicely and when I open the juicyfruit gallon jar it's all fruit smell, it actually smells like juicyfruit gum when I open the jar, very nice.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:50 pm

Transferred my jars while filtering the bit of particulate in the bottom of each; I do believe it was the wax that is on apples that I didn't get scrubbed off. I used a scrub sponge and hot water and soap, but I think that wax is hard man. No new particulate has formed. I did however take the opportunity to place all the brandy into one of my gallon jars, so that I can leave the lid loose for the angels, and placed all four apples into there as well. I'm picking up an organic asian pear tomorrow which I'm going to let in there as well after a super good scrub with some of that fruit/veggie wash and some cheap vodka to get the wax and anything else, so no particulate. This will all age like this for 5-6 months until I 'bottle' or jar the brandy, at which point the pear will be used to make some kind of wonderful dessert, and the apples will be transferred back to the jars with their brandy. I'm doing the pear to complement the hint of pear the brandy has currently; as there is 90 ounces of brandy I don't think one asian pear is going to really add much more than just that much, a hint more to complement the hint in the brandy. It will complement the four apples which are there for the apple flavor of the potent/main flavor of apple. There is still a bit of 'bite' to the brandy, which I think should smooth as it ages with the top just barely loose. I tighten it, then juuuuuust loosen it about a half turn so it's only just able to breathe barely. Perfect, I think.

Meanwhile, the juicyfruit is still doing it's 120 thing on wood and I'll let it do it's thing longer as suggested above, maybe go 2 months on wood before I proof it down. I'm not sure if I can do a fruit inside thing with it. The base constituents of fruit/fruit juice were mango, blueberry, black cherry, then pear juice. So I guess I could maybe put an asian pear (these will hold up better, firm fruits best Cranky says, plus the flavor of asian pears is more complex) into each jar? I daren't do blueberries or cherries, unless I got at least some very firm cherries I guess and dropped a few into each jar with the pears. No blueberries though, just wouldn't work I don't think. Very firm mangoes, before they go soft, but I think the skin would be far too thick to even work?? It would be pretty, for certain... I think asian pear for sure. Thoughts on very firm mangoes? Or perhaps firm red cherries (not black, they get soft too easy) before they are softened and riper to complement either the pear or the mango?
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby The Baker » Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:58 pm

My wife was peeling half a dozen apples so I stole the peels.
More or less; she said, 'Don't you take them, they are going in the rubbish'.
Anyway I had some fairly rough feints of apple brandy, a gallon or so, and left the peels in it for a few weeks.
You could definitely smell and taste the apple so I have some more peels in it at the moment.

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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:45 pm

Anybody have thoughts on a whole mango in bottle/jar aging as in my apple treatment, would a mango work or is the skin just too thick?

Other news, need to get y'all a pic of my apple brandy with the asian pear in it and the four apples; I've transferred to a 2.5 gallon barrel jar because I needed a barrel jar for my rum I just distilled this past weekend - only got so many jars, y'know. Taken up by faux scotch and my weeks on wood juicyfruit brandy currently. 2 open, one for the rum, cuts and then onto wood tomorrow. Then this weekend I'm cooking my papaya/pear/lychee brandy wash; it smells absolutely wonderful, I used 71B-1122 and the fruity smells coming off the finished wash are just freaking tropical, sweet, and amazing. Can't wait to still it.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:19 am

So we are going to go with macerating whole fruits for the juicyfruit brandy - reminder mash had mangoes, blueberries, black cherries, and pear juice concentrate - fruits will be: two Bosc pears, one Asian pear, two honey mangoes, and 1/2 pound of Rainier cherries stems removed. I may adjust adding one more honey mango, and up to 1/2lb more cherries after seeing the balance of fruit, as well depending on the final volume of proofed down 82 proof brandy. Using water, and about 8-10 oz of 100% blueberry juice so I don't get too much if at all coloring, and just a touch of blueberry flavor since I don't want to macerate blueberries due to their soft/delicate nature and I don't want to darken the amber brandy.

Apple brandy, 82 proof, aging, 4 Fuji apples, 1 Asian pear
pomme prisonnierre2.jpg
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:58 pm

Cooked my pear-papaya-lychee wash tonight; the heads jars taste amazing, can't wait to see if they hold this after airing. But it was funny. The first was literally like eating one of those papaya supplement pills, sweet, all papaya, just crazy delicious. The second heads jar, it's like the still and thumper separated them or something... Second was like lychee honey, it was crazy. Third was pear syrup dryer sheets, kind of ethereal pear and pear syrup at the same time. The fourth jar was kind of all combined, and then the hearts started in true and was kind of a combined flavor of 'tropical' off the worm, so I stopped tasting and just let it run and collected. It's airing now and we'll see Tuesday when I make cuts how things fared. I'm hoping these flavors stay because for fresh off the worm they were damned amazing, the best/strongest flavored brandy I've made yet, it was actually unbelievable.

I will be using 1122 for ANY brandy washes from now on if this is the result I get still when I do cuts in two days.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby CatCrap » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:31 pm

Good luck!!! Happy drinking and cutting!!
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:01 pm

Hi guys,

Just found this thread, so coming in a little late. I make a good amount of apple brandy and would be happy to share my experiences.

Fruit:
I buy gallon cases of fresh pressed apple juice "cider" from the local restaurant supply. I wasted a lot of time and energy collecting fruit from our property, family, friends, friends family... it was a lot of wasted time and energy. I tested fresh pressed apples next to the gallon fresh cider and there was little to no discernible difference in color, taste or brix. That said I will still not turn down apples and also distill small batch from the trees on our property in my little 5 gallon alembic, but that just because it's from our land. The work collecting 100 of lbs of apples from all over the state and pressing them was just not worth the effort. I do think that there is the ability to find the right mix of bitter, tart and sweet apples to get a better product, but that would be even more work for me so I've not gone down that deep a road in search of good brandy.

Yeast:
I'm a little ashamed to admit, but I've done very little experimenting with yeasts. My go to is EC-1118, it is aggressive, tolerant and finishes well. I ferment at 70-75 mostly and it finishes in 2-3 weeks. I've used EC-1116 with very similar results to 1118, but the 1118 just seems a little stronger to me. I've used D47 and it was very good, but did get stuck for me. I use D47 for my peaches with great results, very clean bright fruit taste. Lastly I've used Red Star Cote de Blanc and Montrachet. They worked well enough, but there was nothing flavor wise that had me going back. I only used them because I had nothing else at the time. So again, I've not done enough testing side by side, but EC-1118 is a good go to and D47 is worth playing around with.

Wash:
I use fresh juice and frozen 100% concentrate to bump up the gravity without compromising flavor. You can add a little sugar without detrimental effects, but pure fruit is really the way to go. I also do not blend fruits. While it can certainly produce very good stuff, it bastardizes the flavors for me and things start tasting to similar (especially if you add white sugar to them all). You can buy cans of fruit base (e.g. Vintner's Harvest) from wine supply, amazon, local brew stores etc, that is actually pretty decent but expensive. Nothing beats fresh fruit, but these are good supplements to bump sugar without scrubbing flavor. I do add some nutrient, either some prepackaged stuff or a mix of B-Complex, Epsom, dead yeast and Nitrogen fertilizer. Then I whip the heck out of it with a paint mixer, you want a lot air in there. Lastly, let it clear out, I’m super sanitary throughout and rack it from a big 30 gallon drum to smaller glass carboys with very little head space and just let them go. I've messed with pectic enzymes and have found no difference in heads one way or the other. I do notice that they release a lot more juice from the fruit before I press, but not sure if it increases final juice amount. I have some pear and apple backset saved from last year I'll mess with this season.

Run:
I use a modern style pot still and do a single distillation. Start off with a slow heat up and run it at a thin pencil lead stream I collect down to 20% or so. Head and tales get saved for a final run once collected through a few runs. Nothing special about it besides I do single run and get a lot of heads from apples and pears. Fruit smells are huge in the early heads unfortunately. I think this has to do with those "smell" compounds being volatile. I haven't found a good way to capture them and think even if you did, they'd fade with age anyway. Palinka has some really great posts for anyone making brandy in the fruit section, a must read. He mentions freezing the heads and using a pipette to take the tops off where these compounds live. Haven't played with that yet.

Age:
I age on American oak in barrels that are a few years old at the highest abv I can. It is usually 125-115 proof going in. I like the way it breathes in a barrel, but you don't want to over oak, it hides the subtleties. I oak for 4-6 months in barrel and then proof down to 84-88 proof, bottle and let sit until a year old. Around that mark it really changes and gets super smooth. All the headsy burn and chemical taste goes away and the sweetness and complex flavors are able to shine.

I'm no expert, but this is what I've found so far. Most of it is common stuff (I learned it from most of you guys!), but hope there is a nugget or 2 in there.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby Pikey » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:30 pm

Hi John, Interesting divergence from the "same old" here 8)

I like the "pipette idea" - I've read most of Palinka's stuff, but it was a while back and I don't remember that one. Worth a try tho'

What do you mean by a "modern pot" still please ? Are you forcing some "passive reflux" in there ? photo would be great :D
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:15 pm

Hi pikey, it’s a 13 gallon as milk jug with a 3” x 24” copper column going right into a liebig condenser. I bought it, it’s pretty standard I think. I don’t pack, but feel like my cuts are a little sharper with column height. I see a small temp deference from body to head. I’ll post some pics tomorrow from a computer.

ETA: Here it is.

IMG_1520_crop.png
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby CatCrap » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:00 am

JohnsMyName wrote:I age on American oak in barrels that are a few years old at the highest abv I can. It is usually 125-115 proof going in.



Hey,John! I assume that's your name. Not sure though.

My question... How do you manage do hit a high abv like that with a single pass? Are you using a thumper? I figure that some of the run would be up around that nice 120 proof range, but even if your including a fair amount of heads, which i would expect, to capture the apple flavor, don't you find it difficult to hit that high abv level with only doing one run?

Thanks, CC
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:36 am

CatCrap wrote:Hey,John! I assume that's your name. Not sure though.

My question... How do you manage do hit a high abv like that with a single pass? Are you using a thumper? I figure that some of the run would be up around that nice 120 proof range, but even if your including a fair amount of heads, which i would expect, to capture the apple flavor, don't you find it difficult to hit that high abv level with only doing one run?

Thanks, CC


Hi CC, no thumper, although I think that would be nice for brandy. I do go a little more, but not much more, into the heads than I normally would because that where a lot of the fruit esters hide and the headsyness (that should be a word) goes away with age nicely. I save the heads and tails and do a run with half those and half cleared wash. That bumps up the final a lot. Now that I think about it though, my mix of everything goes into barrel at closer to 115 not the 125.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby M13Distillery » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:45 am

Hello John,
What type of fresh apples do you prefer?
Is the juice a specific apple type?
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby Pikey » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:30 am

Hi John,

Do those two thermometers measy=ure the vapour temperature or the case ? And I know this sounds a bit odd, but is the head of the column temp higher or lower than the boiler vapour ?

I operate a 40" column (1" ) and my abvs seem similar to yours

abv resize.jpg


That is why I asked about a "modern pot" still.
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:37 am

Hey guys - awesome to see some new posters visiting my thread! Brandy is one of my favorite things to run, next to rum, also to drink!!

For apple since I don't have a press, nor a farm, and they're expensive, I default to using juices and such for my apple brandy. I use various/different/other fruit juices to add different qualities to my apple brandy mashes for ferment. My next one I'm planning to use as usual some pear juice concentrate for the sweet/sugar punch, which I like a lot because it's got a lot of natural sugar, but used properly there's just a slight pear note in the 'highs' of the brandy and it complements the apples very well. I'm also going to experiment with some cranberry juice and a bit of pineapple, just small amounts -- I have a 5 gallon pot still, so in a 5.5 gallon ferment I'll use maybe .5 gallon of pineapple, .5-.75 gallon of cranberry (always using 100% juice, no additives, sugar, or preservatives) to replace what M13Distillery is asking about, and what JohnsMyName was talking about.

This is something Calvados is famous for, the various/several types of apple they use to very carefully balance the flavor of their mash and therefore their brandy, using tart/sour, bitter/dry, sweet, some maybe even 'savory' apples. I do this with my brandy washes and try to blend flavors, I've done a lychee/papaya/pear, an apple/pear (which was only about 10-15% pear), and a 'juicyfruit' which had whole fruit of mango/blueberry/black cherry and juices prune/apple/peach/pineapple/pear/grape.

My apple/pear is 'done' in that it's proofed down to 82 and now aging in a gallon glass barrel jug, with four Fuji apples macerating - I had an Asian pear in it for a month and removed it because it had enough pear for my taste. I aged this on a Japanese maple domino (which gave a lovely sweetness, but not with any kind of 'maple' flavor) and a once-used med-toast American oak that had previously aged in rum. Taste is amazing now, like apple-forward honey with a pear sweetness and the pear flavor is in there but perfumey, almost like dryer sheets, it's beautiful and I can't wait for this to be ready in Sept/Oct - just sitting in the garage with the top just loose for some angels to get in there a bit.

My juicyfruit is really complex, and I actually had about 10 gallons of mash, so I have almost 1.5 gallons of it. 3 honey mangoes, 2 Bosc pears, 1 Asian pear, 1 Asian pear (transferred from my apple/pear brandy maceration), 3/4 lbs Rainier cherries (de-stemmed), and it was proofed down to 85 because of having some more fruit to macerate in it. The various fruits are starting to really blend well, but it's complex and you can still pickup hints of the darker fruits - the blueberries from the mash, even the prune juice. This is also aging off, though in a big 2.5 gallon glass jar, in the garage with lid loosely on, until Sept/Oct.

The lychee/papaya/pear is still aging on wood, because I couldn't in good conscience make as tight a heads cut, there was just SO MUCH flavor in the heads, so much of them made it in there. It is still at 120, but the heads are airing/smoothing out nicely to my surprise. Everyday I use a wire wisk and whip this gallon barrel jar in the morning and evening to agitate the heads out and get it oxygenated. This has a Japanese maple domino, and two that were previously used a couple times and I think almost used up, but threw them in to use them up all the way and get anything I could out of them. Also a once used American oak domino, from a rum, and another that had been used 3-4 times in rum and scotch and was probably done for, but the wood would do the brandy good. Then 2 Jack Daniels barrel chunks about 1.5"x1.5" and maybe 1/8" thick, this sits in the sun all day in front of my sliding glass back patio door to warm, and then at night it's moved next to the floor duct so the A/C cools it down. The lid is also loose, so it's basically the equivalent of being in a barrel in a barrel house with hot days, cold/cool nights, and breathing through the wood. Stealing tastes this one continues to be my most favorite and looked-forward to, it is the most interesting brandy I've ever POTENTIALLY had, since I've never had 'tropical fruit' LYCHEE PAPAYA brandy. The pear really doesn't show up in the flavors, and I thought of it mostly as a sweet more neutral base (like people think of 'vanilla' as 'plain' or 'to build on', even though it's one of my favorite spices and super-complex in reality...) and it filled its role ideally.

Well, didn't mean for this to be a huge update on my brandies, but it turned into one! I guess it shows I love brandy, and am excited for new interest in the thread. Thanks for the added knowledge, John!
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:06 am

Hi Tim, I haven't had the opportunity to blend many different apples in any kind of refined test. I did a lot of research on making cider (good to drink is good to cook!). My reading said something like 1 part bitter apple (crab), 1 part tart apple (granny smith) and 2 parts sweet (breahburn) for cider. Going off of memory, so don't quote me on that. I've used all kinds, but for the most part had to process them quickly due to time constraints and didn't blend and test them. I've used a lot of Gala's since we have a few trees on the property, those were good and sweet. Even used old bruised ground fruit with the occasional worm in them, distilled just fine. I wouldn't worry about the type of fruit too much myself, I think other things would drive my decision making. Things like budget, availability and volume needed. If you have orchards near you, you can check in with them early and late in season when they're less busy and ask if you can collect ground apples or if they have seconds and can press them right into barrels for you, that would be a good way to get a large volume of cheaper juice.

Since all threads are better with pics, here are some of our Gala apples from last September.

IMG_1459_small.png

IMG_1462_crop_small.png

IMG_1494.png
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:17 am

Pikey wrote:Hi John,

Do those two thermometers measy=ure the vapour temperature or the case ? And I know this sounds a bit odd, but is the head of the column temp higher or lower than the boiler vapour ?

I operate a 40" column (1" ) and my abvs seem similar to yours

abv resize.jpg


That is why I asked about a "modern pot" still.


They measure the vapor temp. The top of the column is lower by about 5F I think. I don't pay much attention to actual temperatures as much as I do movement.

I made up the "modern" part, cause all the old style pots I've seen have a very large head and no column. Seems fitting though! :)
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby JohnsMyName » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:59 am

distiller_dresden wrote:Hey guys - awesome to see some new posters visiting my thread! Brandy is one of my favorite things to run, next to rum, also to drink!!
.........................................
Well, didn't mean for this to be a huge update on my brandies, but it turned into one! I guess it shows I love brandy, and am excited for new interest in the thread. Thanks for the added knowledge, John!


dd - Thanks for the update brother. I think Brandy is my favorite and rum a close second. I'm not big on blending too many fruits myself, but not knocking what your doing at all, it sounds great! I enjoy reading your posts here and in the rum section.

Cheers!
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Re: Would like to try my hand at some apple brandy

Postby distiller_dresden » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:56 pm

UPDATE! The tropical Lychee/Papaya/Pear brandy!

It's been proofed down and 'fruited'. I proofed it down with 24oz, yielding me a total of 84oz 82 proof brandy which REALLY smells very much like lychee and papaya. There is a very noticeable tropical/papaya taste on the palate, still a bit of a bite, and the lychee contribution is kind of swirled with pear, but the pear is REALLY background here, and the lychee is kind of a perfumey/wildflower type of contribution to the papaya that rounds it out like the nectar of a flower which smells like papaya and tastes like papaya with lychee honey on it. Granted, it's not overwhelming, but it's not a 'ghost' of flavor either, it's all there. I used 6 oz of pear juice concentrate and 8 oz of lychee juice (not really concentrate, very clear sweet liquid from a can of really high quality lychees) then spring water for the 24oz.

Then into the brandy are 2 Asian pears, 1 Bartlett pear, 12 oz of very firm high quality lychee fruit (product of Thailand!) - drained, and then 12 oz of dried papaya which I first soaked for 2-3 minutes in hot water to rinse the sugar off the outside and any dust/particulate since they were a 'bulk' food item. This fruit maceration should lend an incredible punch of flavor to the brandy and the papaya I hope should really punch up since it's dried, adding more than it's weight, since I didn't have any juice or anything, all papaya anything juice on the market is cloudy/pulpy and has apple or high fructose or some crap in it.

I'll try to get a pic up in the next couple days. It's complex tasting, but I know it isn't anything like it's going to be after a month or two in the garage when all the fruit has macerated and worked through, and the heat has smoothed a lot more. That said, this isn't ready until October or so, so no rush.

Now the three brandies are aging nicely for October, maybe September if I am able to be invited to the gathering in PA. The Apple/Apple-Pear brandy had the Asian pear pulled, and placed a Bartlett into it to balance and bring a more natural/normal pear flavor. That Asian pear went into the Pear/Mango brandy, which got an additional Asian pear, I pulled the honey mangoes (good thing too, because I cut them open and tasted - they were kind of bitter/sour, and the liquor hadn't really penetrated the skin) and cherries (which seemed to have absorbed all higher undesirable ethanol), and then a Bartlett went into the Pear/Mango as well.
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