Applejack’s 10-generation family liquor business in New Jersey
New Jersey can boast of having the very first spirits and hard liquor produced in America. William Laird, a Scottish immigrant, settled in Colts Neck in Monmouth County in 1698, surrounded by a large number of apple orchards. Laird was a distiller in Scotland where he produced apple cider from the bountiful apples that the surrounding orchards produced. While his original intention was to personally consume and share with his neighbors, he increased his production since Colts Neck was a stagecoach stop.
Laird’s has a rich famous history including George Washington the day before the Battle of Monmouth dining with Uncle Moses Laird. In 1760, documents confirm that Washington wrote to the Laird’s for their recipe for applejack because he also lived in an apple orchard.
Abraham Lincoln owned a tavern in Springfield, Illinois and a menu shows that Lincoln served Laird’s applejack at 12 cents a pint, which was very expensive at the time.
Great history of a family owned and operated business with over 10 generations of the Laird family at the helm.
The question has arisen whether apples are still used in applejack. Until the 1970s, applejack was made from fermented and then distilled apple juice. By law, applejack is made from a blend of 35% apple brandy and 65% neutral grain alcohol and must be 4 years old and aged in used bourbon barrels .
Laird’s saw the disappearance of the apple orchards around Colts Neck which turned into horse farms and grand mansions which began to water the township. With the ever-changing landscape, the Lairds packed up and built a distillery in Virginia with apples sourced from the Shenandoah Valley.
At the time, sixteen pounds of small wine sap apples made about 25 ounces of applejack. Currently, apples are used in making apple brandy which is then distilled with grain alcohol to make applejack. The apples are fresh and make a good cider before turning the cider into brandy. While applejack is distilled in Virginia, it is stored in used bourbon casks in Scobeyville, New Jersey, where it is housed in warehouses adjacent to Lairds headquarters. We are proud of Laird’s and their commitment to New Jersey and consistently delivering a great product shared around the world. Cheers!
The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. All opinions expressed are those of Big Joe.