America's Oldest Distillery Has A New Twist

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Speaking of spirits rich with history and romance, no American distillery has a longer tradition of excellence than Laird & Company in New Jersey: the first commercial producer of distilled alcohol in the United States, with a continued lineage that dates back nearly a century before the country was even founded. You can check out their fantastic website if you want the full backstory, but the little factoid that always gets us fanboys all fired up is that Laird’s was granted the first official distillery license from the U.S. back in 1780. If you’re a real American history nut, then you probably already know that George Washington wrote to the Laird family in 1760, asking for their applejack recipe, and that Robert Laird himself served under Washington during the American Revolution and provided the troops with booze. Like I said, go to their website for literally centuries of cool stories like the one above.

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Laird’s applejack is one of those spirits that whiskey drinkers love to appreciate and talk about, but rarely consume. At least that was my experience working retail. Every now and then you’d a get a Jack Rose cocktail lover that came through, gushing about the consistent quality of Laird’s and the ever-affordable pricing, but it never quite crossed over with the Bourbonites. Laird’s has largely been an on-premise darling out here in California, a staple of the well-stocked bar for the mixology crowd.

But I think that’s about to change.

We recently received in two single casks of Laird’s apple brandy, each over 4 years of age, bottled at a whopping cask strength, and full-throttle in their flavor. Best of all, they should run you about fifty bucks a piece. It’s not quite the George T. Stagg of American apple brandy, but it’s close. At over 130 proof, this spirit explodes on your palate, lighting up your taste buds and scintillating your senses with powerful oak spice and vanilla, boosted by the apple overtones.

If you’re in California and you can’t find these at your local retailer, send them my way. You’re going to want a bottle of this. We might even see a few private casks in the market soon.

-David Driscoll