The Award-Winning Spirits of French Lick Releases “Old Clifty”, a Double Pot Distilled Hoosier Apple Brandy, the first Apple Brandy released in the region since 1914.

Sep 27, 2019 | News, Products, Success Stories

The Award-Winning Spirits of French Lick Releases “Old Clifty”, a Double Pot Distilled Hoosier Apple Brandy, the first Apple Brandy released in the region since 1914.

French Lick, Indiana- September 16, 2019- The award-winning Spirits of French Lick is pleased to announce the release of its new product, Old Clifty, a double pot distilled Hoosier Apple Brandy. The Spirits of French Lick, located in Orange County Indiana, has been fermenting, distilling, and barreling botanical Spirits, bourbon, as well as other whiskies since it began operations in April of 2016.  The distillery, in West Baden, is an outgrowth of the French Lick Winery that focuses on four pillars of distilling, bourbon, brandy, botanical spirits, and American whiskey.  The Spirits of French Lick pays tribute to the many distilleries that once dotted the southern hills of Indiana pre-prohibition and focuses on using the best practices of those early times in balance with the improved methods of today.   The spirits are crafted from the finest agricultural products that can be grown or sourced.  Their distilling philosophy is simple, a balance between the distiller’s art and the contribution of the barrel, time, and patience.

Apple brandy is the original distilled spirit to the American Colonies dating back to 1630. This spirit was distilled by George Washington and was one reason Johnny Appleseed set about the cultivation of apple trees.  It wasn’t until cheaper alternatives such as corn came under wider cultivation that whiskey started to grow in popularity.  Between 1877-1914 the Second and Seventh Tax District of Southern Indiana was known as the Black Forrest of Indiana.  For a period of forty years this region was the largest producer of apple brandy in the world.  Apple brandy became one of the main staples of distillery production because transportation at the time was poor and the apples would rot before they could be shipped to foreign markets.  Many of these distilleries would eventually reach capacities of 20,000 gallons or more over a six to eight-month fermentation and distillation season.  Old Clifty, in Washington County, was one of many distilleries producing this double pot distilled brandy.  The distillery operated for nearly 70 consecutive years.  The release of the Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy marks the first produced in 102 years in the area.  We pay tribute to our Hoosier Distilling heritage with this double pot distilled apple brandy.  Apples were sourced from Michigan orchards and were comprised of various varieties including Fuji, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, and Granny Smith.  “We completed fermentation using a proprietary yeast strain”, stated head distiller, Alan Bishop.    Bishop continued to explain, “This helped create a seductive aroma of apple and toffee on the nose.  In the glass this apple brandy is full bodied and rich in flavor with notes of candied apple, hazelnut, and toffee.  The finish is packed with the aroma of fresh apples.”  The product was finished in once used wine barrels comprised of American oak.  Each barrel was recouped, charred and the heads were replaced with new wood that had been toasted.  The final product spent a minimum of two years in barrel in the Chai style aging room on the grounds of the distillery.

American apple brandy’s place in the United States gastronomic history was lost during Prohibition, when orchards and stills were destroyed. When liquor production began again legally in the United States, it was largely disconnected from its historic roots.  “Over the past decade, however, apple brandy has seen a dramatic rebirth, with an industry estimate of 80 percent annual growth since 2011,” commented John Doty, owner of Spirits of French Lick.  Why the resurgence?  Doty believes for several reasons: Applejack’s rediscovery rose in tandem with the cider renaissance, which in turn has introduced a new generation of drinkers to the complex flavors of heirloom apples. The Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy will be available through distribution in Indiana via Johnson Brothers, in Kentucky via River City as well as at the French Lick Winery, Spirits of French Lick, and Vintage Café gift shop.  SOFL also offers an eCommerce platform, Seelbach’s, for individuals to purchase their products outside of Indiana.