Milky, creamy homemade Apple Jack

Maybe some of our Cider making brethren can answer this. At my next to last employer I was privileged to befriend a technician who was raised on the Georgia/Tennessee border with family on both sides. It was pretty established their family history delved deeply in various un-sanctioned and illicit liquor types. One thing he often blessed us with was a very potent cream style white thick liqueur they called “Apple Jack”. Very sweet. Very tangy. And extreme in it’s intoxication ability.Usually you would nurse a hang over for a few days.

I google “Apple Jack” and do not see anything like it. I know his brothers grew the apples and also made a fine Apple Brandy. Sad to say they have all passed on.


i have made apple jack the old colonial way by putting apple wine out in -20 weather and removing the ice that froze on top. after each freeze the alc. % went up significantly. one year we had quite a few -30f and i got my apple jack up to 86 pf. not being distilled though it had alot of methyl alcohol and other impurities and gave one hell of a hangover. why i never made it more than a few times despite it tasting really good. never heard of a creamy version. they probably used distilled alcohol and back flavored after the fact. my wife’s childhood friend works for Sugarland distilling co. in T.N and that’s what they do to make their flavored shine.


Maybe the methyl alcohol was it. That first day. Every heart beat felt like veins in your head were going to explode. But the way it felt drinking. So smooth and satisfying.

I also recall; lots of stuff settled in it. I recall they spiced it. But some of the graininess was like, well, apple sauce. Not much, but observable.

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that’s sounds about right. those apple notes got really concentrated and it drank well strait up. very dangerous :wink: mine turned a deep amber color as it got stronger. it did have a little sediment on the bottom of the jug i was careful not to disturb.

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i wish i had shine making in my family. id likely wind up going south of the law. :wink:


These were some pretty rough customers…lol…Hard scrabble out of the 1950’s types.


not much different from the Scott/ Irish descent loggers that live in the Allagash region here not far from me. they raised so much hell there 100 yrs ago, the town is still dry to this day. if you needed to drive to the closest grocery store 30mi. away and didn’t have a car, you just went and borrowed your neighbors, whether they were home or not. big poachers and damned hard workers. loud, boisterous folk. even their women were tough. :wink:


Commercial Apple Jack is still produced by Laird and Company who is one of the oldest licensed distillers in the US. I believe some of their Brandy is produced by some type of freeze distillation.

They have a distillery not too far from Charlottesville, VA using local Apples.

Several of their products are sold in ABC stores in my area. Their less expensive versions of Apple Jack are a combination of apple brandy and grain alcohol which I don’t enjoy. They also have Brandy without the grain alcohol which is much better.

We always have some around Thanksgiving and Christmas time mixed with Egg Nog


I really want to try this someday. Do you know if there’s a way to control the amount of methyl alcohol or other undesirable stuff without distilling?

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no. and unfortunately the stronger it gets the more concentrated the impurities get. i may try making a mock apple jack from strait brandy and apple cider. with the right spices and letting it set for awhile, i imagine it would make a decent drink. maybe simmer down the cider some to concentrate the apple flavor before cooling then adding the brandy. something for me to play with over winter. i made Martha Washinton’s recipe for cherry bounce about a month ago with my romance cherries. came out very good. drank it with family last weekend. apparently, George Washington wouldn’t go anywhere without a canteen if it with him. i used Evan Williams bourbon instead of brandy but i added less so it was about the same proof as if i used the brandy. dangerously tasty. :wink:


wish it was available here. id be all over it. ive tried others but it wasnt near the same as the homemade stuff.

You mention they spiced it and that there was almost apple sauce chunks in it. Also that they did distilling as well. It was probably NOT iced apple jack (apple cider that is freeze concentrated). It was probably either distilled apple brandy or corn whisky that was poured on top of sliced fresh apples along with their family blend of spices.and perhaps diluted with fresh juice. Often this is known as Apple Pie moonshine and many recipes are only a google search away and you can sub in store bought alcohol (corn whisky, apple brandy, calvados) but many of the traditional backcountry recipes would use 160+ proof or 130 proof instead of store bought 80 proof which gives different apple/spice extraction profiles.

Most jurisdictions treat freeze concentration the same as heat distilling (Eg illegal) so proceed with testing at your risk. Freeze concentration WILL concentrate the apple flavour but you also get a lot of the contaminating esters, methanol, acetone and aldehydes that would have been removed from “heart” cuts. Macerating distillied alcool on cut apple slices is a way for people try to bring back some of those fresh apple flavour.

Some of the orchards near me have micro distillery licenses and I’ve picked their brains a lot.


Mile High Distilling in Denver makes some quality small stainless stills. .

Manufacturing alcohol is illegal without the proper license in every state as far as I know.

I have been told that it takes two runs to make something good which can be cut with water to around 80 proof

Also heard that a combination of Goldrush and Winesap Apples make a good brandy

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Oh, I’m not interested in making any. Just what they did to make it. I would not say “chunks”. More like some very small amounts of apple sauce like fine grains floating in the lower 1/2" of the bottle.

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The grains make me think it was Apple Pie type and not apple jack. Distilled products and freeze concentrated cider has no residual apple pulp.


Most distillations are at least 2 runs. An initial strip run then subsequent spirit run. Brandy and whiskey are often done on pot stills to get more flavour.

I have a biochem background and know cideries near me who are distilling and have spent time chatting while sampling their products which is why I know this.

I can totally see acidic apples being good for this. Cognac is made from acidic grapes. I imagine they target similar for Calvados.

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We have a handful of local distilleries here but nobody is making apple brandy.

I was raised no too far from Franklin County, VA which has a long heritage with moonshine. A local newspaper article suggested that during prohibition over 90% of the residents of the county were involved with moonshine is some way. Several licensed distilleries exist in that area now but no Apple Brandy. I believe it’s just too time consuming compared to making alcohol from grain.

Worst legal “moonshine” I ever tasted was made from straight sugar with no grain and many types of artificial flavors. I hated it, but it was selling like crazy.

I can’t find any licensed distilleries using freeze distillation to “jack” the alcohol content of hard cider to make old fashion Apple Jack. The video from Laird and Company in the link from my previous post shows their process. Interesting to see a trailer load of juice quality apples dumped and moving through the water trough into the press. Looks like sanitation is not a big issue. The “jack” in their Apple Jack is provided by grain alcohol labeled as “neutral spirits.” I see they also sell something called Jersey Lightning which is 100 proof clear, un-aged Apple Brandy with no neutral spirits but it’s not sold in my area.


Those old boys definitely made straight Apple Brandy. One they used to bring a lot was made with just Pomme D’or. Real tart puckering aftertaste. A real eye opener. Charley said his brothers used 6-7 types of apples in straight or mixed blends.

I also have little doubt they made other spirits. I gave them buckets of our local sweet fox grapes once.

Huh, i didn’t know you got methyl alcohol when you fermented apples. TIL.

Fwiw, i worked with methyl alcohol in a lab as a kid. Also ethyl alcohol. In retrospect, I’m surprised that was allowed, i was about 16.

The methyl alcohol smelled great. Smooth and sweet. Much nicer than the ethyl alcohol. I didn’t drink either, and knew that the methyl alcohol was dangerous. But it sure smelled good.

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lol! probably why mine tasted so good.

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