Our apples are our most unique ingredient—we combine over 120 varieties of European and American apples grown with loving care in our own orchard to create our Shady Knoll Apple Brandy… compared to 4-30 varieties grown or purchased “locally” by other distillers (only aware of a few other craft distillers that produce apple brandy from their own homegrown apples).
We pick our apples by hand only when they tell us they’re ready in order to maximize their juice and taste, which means we pick constantly from August until Thanksgiving each year… unlike typical orchards that harvest all or most apples at once.
We grind and press our apples as they are harvested and then allow our apple juice to ferment using their natural yeast over about nine months… we don’t add commercial yeast as many others do in order to speed up production.
Our fermented apple juice is double distilled in our gas-fired traditional French alembic pot still in order to maximize complex flavors… not once in a modern columnar still as many do.
We make our cuts from heads to hearts to tails by hand using nose and taste… not automatically.
We maximize flavors by aging our Shady Knoll Apple Brandy for at least one to three years in new American oak barrels and then finishing it for at least three months in used Portuguese Madeira barrels; our Pommeau is a blend of our aged Shady Knoll Apple Brandy and our fresh apple juice, which is then rested in used oak barrels for about three months—we don’t use unfinished/unaged eau de vie as many others do.
Prior to the release of our first apple brandy in 2019, we were very excited about an early review of our apple brandy that appeared in the following excerpt from “Burgeoning Interest in Apple Brandy” an article by Matthew Rowley in the Summer 2017 edition of Distiller Magazine published by the American Distilling Institute: “On two different days, ADI Vice President Andrew Faulkner broke out bottles of apple brandies … The real surprise, however, came from Andrew Richards of Shady Knoll Distillery in Millbrook, New York. Richards, who was one of the attendees, grows over 100 varieties of apples with his family and managed to slip one of his own brandies into the mix. Made from a mix of 80 percent Gold Rush apple and 20 percent pear on a five-gallon pilot still, the 122-proof spirit had deep, complex tastes and aromas that suggested butterscotch, nutmeg and other warm spices. It was funky and carried a whiff of butter, baked apples and acetic acid, but the shocker was its age. Richards had distilled the spirit a mere six weeks earlier. It wasn’t a perfect brandy, but the enthusiastic response from his peers in a blind tasting was enough to send Richards home knowing he was on the right track. We’ll be seeing more from Andrew Richards in the coming years…”
Our Shady Knoll Apple Brandy has won the following awards:
American Distilling Institute (ADI) 2019 Judging of Craft Spirits—Bronze
Fifty Best’s Best Apple Brandy 2021—Double Gold
New Orleans Spirits Competition 2022—Bronze
We love our Apple Brandy straight, but try this classic “Sidecar” cocktail served during World War 1 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris:
- 2 ½ oz. Shady Knoll Apple Brandy
- 2 tbs. Triple Sec
- 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Pour 1/2 tbs. Triple Sec in small plate, invert martini glass and twist on plate to coat; then dip rim in sugar to coat lightly
- Combine other ingredients, shake with ice, strain and serve straight up
Shady Knoll is proud to be only one of a few distilleries in New York State that grows its ingredients on its farm and is certified as “New York Grown & Certified”