If you’re into whisky, it’s not a huge leap to try another aged spirit, made from fruit rather than grain. Apple brandy has a storied American legacy and can be a delicious option for sipping neat or using in cocktails like the Jack Rose and Apple Brandy Old Fashioned. Not sure where to start? Check out these apple brandies, which have flavorful characteristics that will appeal to a whisky drinker’s sensibilities.
Unaged and fresh
Rhine Hall Apple Brandy—40% ABV, $50
An unaged white spirit, in the style of Austrian schnapps. Fruity, lively, vivacious, and above all apple-y—try it if you want to see what “apple in a glass” really means.
Young and vibrant
Clear Creek 2 year old Apple Brandy—40% ABV, $30
With just 2 years in Cognac Limousin oak barrels, this nicely balances bright apple flavors, light oak tannins, and vanilla. Complex, subtle, and delicate, and proof that apple brandy can be delicious even after just a few years in oak.
Traditional and balanced
Harvest Spirits 7 year old Apple Brandy—40% ABV, $30/375 ml.
From a distillery on a third-generation apple farm in upstate New York. Some wood influence, but still apple-driven. Gentle and silky, with apple, leather, whipped cream, and oak spice on the palate.
Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy—50% ABV, $30
An American classic, and readily available. Rich oak, nutmeg, and clove, with hints of lavender, herbs, and eucalyptus, and an undercurrent of apple.
Heirloom and complex
Germain-Robin Heirloom Apple Brandy—40% ABV, $65
Aged in a solera and made with a large proportion of heirloom apples. Herbal, spicy, and warm, with a mineral undercurrent. Maple syrup and chocolate notes. A beautiful brandy, perfect with dessert.
Experimental and Rich
Arkansas Black Straight Applejack—49% ABV, $50
Unlike blended applejacks, this is made from 100% apples—including culinary, cider, and heirloom varieties like its namesake Arkansas Black. Distilled in France but aged and blended in San Francisco, it has robust tannins, spicy chocolate notes, orange zest, and a hint of rancio.
Copper & Kings Three Marlenas—50% ABV, $40/375 ml.
Finished in tequila barrels. Apple flavors meet wood and subtle agave—spicy, herbal, savory, complex, and weird, in the best sense of the word. A great experiment.