After three days of distilling, we have generated almost 50 gallons of apple spirit, which has been put into two oak barrels to age. The cider that we received from Distillery Lane contained roughly 6.5% alcohol; after the first run through the still it had increased to upwards of 20% (40 proof); after the second and final run the potency increased again to roughly 60% allcohol (120 proof). Given our plan to age the spirit for two years, Dave Pickerell decided that cutting it with water to reduce it to 100 proof would be best. When the time comes to bottle it will be cut again, probably down to about 86 proof.
The new apple spirit has a predictably strong flavor as well as a lot of heat because of the high alcohol content. But the smell and flavor of the apples is still there and is really very pleasant. The trick will be for the flavors to mellow a bit and gain in complexity from being in contact with the wood, without losing the residual character of the apples.
We also took this opportunity to taste some of the peach brandy we made last year, which has spent the last 12 months in oak barrels in our storage facility. Everyone pronounced it to be an excellent product, which should be even better after another year in wood, and we have every reason to expect that the apple brandy will turn out just as well. Our current plan is to bottle and sell the peach brandy in another year or so, with the apple brandy following one more year down the road.