Thursday, August 23, 2012

Apple sauce.

Whilst Vinomaker practices the art of winemaking here in the Napa Valley, my brother Thud dabbles with the production of dry cider and, most recently, Calvados at home in England. But for arguments sake, let's call it apple brandy because Liverpool isn't in France.  Double distilled from cider Thud made last October, using six vintage apple varieties, the resulting brandy is very rustic in more of a fermier calvados fashion.
Beginning last February, Thud and his cohort Monkey began the first fractional distillation of the cider down to it's elemental character in brandy form, which may or may not have been entirely legal.  The resulting eau de vie, or White Lightning as Vinomaker dubbed it, is pretty crude and raw and a startling 120 proof (second from the left in the photo: the first glass is Pere Magloire).  Diluted with water to about 90 proof, and with the addition of the back-ins or feints, the second distillation refined the brandy down to something more palatable.  Then a couple of months ago, Thud took a portion of the clear brandy and added oven-toasted oak chips which imbued the youthful brandy with a pleasing golden colour and a nutty-toasty nose (second from the right in the photo).  Monkey, on the other hand, experimented with toasted oak shavings (increased surface area) and only aged the mixture for about three weeks, yikes!  This particular oak treatment gave the brandy a deep tawny colouration and a strong charcoal nose (pictured on the right).
Of course, the entire process is a little more complicated than I am going to cover here, e.g. ensuring no methanol is collected is important - or blindness may occur.  All in all, not too shoddy for a first attempt.  Actually aging the apple brandy for several years, and perhaps the utilisation of a small oak barrel, will definitely improve the drinking experience.
On another note, I started a new semester at Napa Valley College this evening.  I am taking a wine appreciation class called Wines of the World with my favourite teacher of all time, Dr. Stephen Krebs.  So stay tuned for weekly global wine discoveries.

8 comments:

Thud said...

The wirral rednecks strike again!

NHwineman said...

Thud's Thunder, lightning in a bottle!

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Will it be squirrel jerky next?

NHW: Thud may want to name his 'Calvados' that!

Thud said...

Squirrel jerky is a possible and I do like nhw's suggestion.

Thomas said...

Thud: What do you use for the distillation process?

Thud said...

Thomas I may or may not use a home made copper still as alembic looking as possible...allegedly!

monkey said...

Wow vino girl you make it sound so technical, although it didn't feel like it say in a cold barn watching the drips and laughing every time it took our head off at a sip or two.
Still great times have been had such a shame we won't have the crop for more this year. Never mind it will give me time to knock up an oak barrel.

Vinogirl said...

Monkey: Although I know it's true, it's still hard to believe that the English weather has thrown a spanner into your 2012 cider and brandy making plans.