Head to Head: Starlight Applejack vs. Tom’s Foolery Applejack, Batch 4

Starlight vs Toms FS= Huber’s

TF= Tom’s Foolery

Maker

S: Starlight Distillery, Starlight, Indiana, USA (Huber Orchard & Winery)

TF: Tom’s Foolery, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA

Age: Both NAS

ABV

S: 41.5%

TF: 45%

Price

S: $30 (from distillery website)

TF: $41 (MSRP)

Appearance

S: Bright copper with thin legs.

TF: Lighter but similar.

Nose

S: Alcohol, dry apple cider, lavender, cardamom

TF: Brown sugar, apple crisp with Granny Smiths, toasted oak.

On the palate

S: Full bodied and dry. A kiss of apple and wood, but not much else other than sweetness and alcohol.

TF: Medium bodied and rich. Apple pie a la mode, brown sugar, bourbon.

Finish

S: Curry, alcohol, heirloom apples.

TF: A touch of burn, but then maple sugar then it slowly dries out.

Parting words

These are both good micro-distilled apple brandies. One of the great things about the micro-distilling movement is that more products like these are available. In eighteenth and nineteenth century America fruit brandies, especially apple and peach, were very popular, but faded from popularity with the rise of rye and bourbon whiskeys. Microdistillers, especially those associated with wineries or orchards, saw an opportunity to re-introduce fruit brandy to the drinking public and they seized it. These are two fine examples of the bourgeoning apple brandy renaissance.

They are from neighboring states but they don’t have much in common. Starlight Distillery is attached to the Huber Winery in Southern Indiana and makes a line of apple and grape brandies along with a grappa. This product, the Applejack, is aged in used “small” used whiskey barrels. Their other (more expensive at $60) apple brandy is aged in “small French oak barrels”, presumably toasted. It is bottled at 40% ABV. I haven’t had that one, but this Applejack shows no signs of small barrel syndrome. It’s pleasant tasting, easy drinking and is recommended.

I reviewed the first edition of Tom’s Foolery Applejack here and I said it showed a lot of potential. That potential is now being realized. It is delicious and ranks as one of the best apple brandies I’ve had. Through adroit management of cooperage (at least three types of barrels are used for aging: ex-bourbon, ex-Cognac and new charred oak) Tom and his family have created a symphony of flavors that come together as  liquid apple crisp à la mode, only better. It’s an amazing spirit and an example of micro-distilling at its very best. And it’s just going to be getting better as it spends more time in oak and their bourbon comes of age in a few years. Don’t be scared off by the price or its scarcity, it’s worth every penny. Tom Foolery’s Applejack  Batch 4 is highly recommended.

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