written by Chaz
It is after Labor Day, and it seems the world is a’changing. The air is crisp, sweaters are out, my jeans still fit on my quarantine body (score!), football is back, and the Edina Starbucks ran out of pumpkin cream cold brew due to all the Gen-Z teens in the area needing a pick-me-up before attending their online school, leaving none for the rest of us. Nature is healing.
The classics of fall are all back, so naturally, we are back to selling a plethora of apple spirits, mainly the classic apple brandy. Now, while we all love ourselves a good apple brandy old fashioned, sidecar, or spiked cider, we want to challenge you to maybe think outside the “basket” a little. I present to you two eau de vie, an apple flavored whiskey with cinnamon, and some apple liqueurs.
In France and most of the European Union, eau de vie is referred to as a colorless fruit brandy not made from grapes. Everywhere else, this term can apply to most colorless brandies and fruit distilled liqueurs. Where a lot of classic brandy (think E&J, Camus, Remy Martin) can get big and fat, eau de vie is light. There is even a Canadian maple syrup eau de vie. It is a close cousin to schnapps, and a whole other list of liqueurs, but we are getting a little too deep into the weeds, or orchard, one may say.
This is brandy in pure form without the barrel aging process. Dampfwerk runs a spectacular spirits program just over the way in St. Louis Park, and their lineup of brandies are all beautiful pieces of craftmanship, inside and out. Fresh apple skin aromas pierce the nose as you open and pour. MacIntosh apple with a slight green texture dominate the palate here, and a watery texture allows you to enjoy this brandy neat or mixed, not demanding anything from the drinker.
FINAL RATING: Getting your first iPhone
This is a similar product to Dampfwerk, but hailing all the way from Port Chester New York, an hour outside The Big Apple. Another eau de vie, this brandy stems into more granny smith character. Big fresh and juicy apple flavor permeates the profile, but Neversink still holds notes of tree bark, soft spices, and more.
FINAL RATING: One bushel of Honeycrisp apples from a local farmer’s market
Starting in Lake City by the Mississippi River, this spirit begins by picking Wealthy apples, the first apple to grow successfully in Minnesota. After juicing and traveling to Minneapolis, Du Nord blends the juice with a corn-based spirit and finishes with light spicing. Red apple forward, this juicy libation still features a good spice profile thanks to its 30% ABV, a little higher than most apple liqueurs. Du Nord has been making a great catalog of spirits locally, and this is one of the best local options for your apple cocktails.
FINAL RATING: Hitting all the health goals on your Apple Watch
Panther Distilling out of Alexandria brings a corn whiskey infused with Minnesota apples and cinnamon. It’s apple pie in a bottle. Doughy pie crust, roasted apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg all flow through this whiskey. Plus, at only 15% ABV, you are not going to feel bad pouring yourself a second glass of this if the night takes you this far.
FINAL RATING: One fresh baked apple pie from granny
A partnership with Sociable Cider Werks, this is one of the more complex apple liqueurs. Made by distilling an apple brandy from Sociable’s Freewheeler Cider, blending in unfermented Freewheeler juice, and resting on oak. The combination is a deeper apple complexion having both bright and fruity flavor at the top with a smooth finish. A perfect spirit to drink neat, over ice, or adding a full apple character to any cocktail of your choosing.
FINAL RATING: Bobbin’ for apples, getting the golden one on the first try, and winning a $100 gift card to the local Applebee’s.