Hard Cider or Transformation
For centuries, applejack distillers fermented their cider outside in oak barrels. Conditions were difficult and Mother Nature had her way, so some batches of cider were simply better than others. But occasionally, when the weather was just right, a cold-fermented cider would produce really great applejack. These prized batches would be set aside by the distiller, to be shared only with special friends.
At Tom’s Foolery, we combine traditional methods with modern winemaking techniques. Throughout the entire cider season, we create the conditions that consistently produce the highest quality hard cider. We may still hope for nice fall weather, but to produce great cider, we rely on our temperature-controlled, modern fermenting tanks.
We always start with freshly-pressed sweet cider. In about three weeks, yeast will have completely converted the naturally-occurring sugar in the fresh cider to alcohol, resulting in a tasty, natural hard cider that is about 7% alcohol. We don’t add any sulfites or stabilizers to the hard cider, and it is really very good.
But a lot can go wrong during this step, resulting in what some call a “scrumpy” cider and ultimately off-flavored applejack. We carefully control and monitor the cider through the entire fermentation process, and when the time is right, we transfer it to the still.