Apple Brandy

Best Apple Brandy


The Fifty Best Apple Brandy Tasting 2021


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of apple brandy with a panel of 10 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the apple brandies were poured into fresh glasses from newly-opened sealed bottles and served well chilled. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double-Gold and Gold are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Silver or Bronze medals awarded for this tasting. Medals are provided based entirely on merit and only to products judged worthy of such award.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The distilleries, states of origin and ABV are identified for each apple brandy. Clicking on the brands' names will link to their websites.


Shady Knoll Apple Brandy
(Shady Knoll Orchards & Distillery, NY)  40% ABV
Distilled from selected family-orchard apples.
Aged 16 months in oak & used Madeira barrels.

Aroma: Rich apple, red apple, green apple, fresh baked apples, sweet apple candy, honey, vanilla, buttery, caramel, sweet spice, clove, mossy, redwood trees, oaky, pungent, fermented.
Palate: Red apple, honey, vanilla, caramel, burnt caramel, hints of cinnamon, burnt spices, burning kindling, smoky, heavy oak, slightly tart, chewy, rich, well balanced.
Finish: Light apple, light spice, smoky, barrel treatment, pleasant sour note, crisp, rich, like biting into a brandy apple, nice overall brandy, good, great with a cigar, beautiful, excellent.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal


Liberty Tree New England Apple Brandy
(Astraluna, MA)  43% ABV
Distilled & aged in new American oak, French
& used bourbon barrels.

Aroma: Red apple, ripe Macintosh apple, candy apple, hint of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, dough, lemony, apple blossom, full flower, soft clove, cinnamon, wormwood, grappa-like.
Palate: Lght cocoa, creamy, vanilla, cinnamon, apple skin, spiced apple bread, clove, spice, peppery, creamy mouthfeel, nicely balanced, easy on the palate, very smooth, soft, rich, delicious.
Finish: Tart apple, baked apple, honey, vanilla, apple blossom, clove, oak spice, big oak, nice, fresh, smooth, rich, an easy sipper, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Liberty Tree New England Apple Brandy


Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy
(NM)  40% ABV
Handmade in small batches with Mountain West apples.

Aroma: Macintosh apple, green apple, apple sauce, Calvados, maple syrup, butterscotch, butter, slight vanilla, mint, cinnamon, clove, spicy, warm spices, peppery spice, dry wood, woody, oak, hints of whiskey, a fragrant orchard in spring.
Palate: Ripe apple, green apple, apple juice, vanilla, hint of caramel, clove, pepper spice, rich oak spice, smoke, burnt wood, oak, fresh, ripens, gets richer.
Finish: Red apple skins, vanilla, touch of mint, clove, spices, peppery, woody, silky smooth, a good sipper, great.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy

Bellewood Farms Apple Brandy
(Bellewood Distilling, WA)  40% ABV
Distilled from hand-picked apples, aged in bourbon barrels.

Aroma: Fresh cut apple, red apple, fresh baked apple, green apple skin, minty, burnt sugar, buttery, cocoa, almond, green wood, oaky, fall season.
Palate: Light apple, apple skin, spicy, vanilla, barrel aged, well made, nice, smooth, an easy sipper, great with dessert.
Finish: Cranberry, dried apple, lemony, slightly tart, clean, crisp, very balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Bellewood Farms Apple Brandy



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