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That's the Spirit: Clear Creek Eau de Vie de Pomme

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[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

Though perhaps not quite as American as hard cider—see Chris Lehault's excellent piece on the history of that quintessential Colonial tipple—applejack and apple brandy occupied an equally overlooked dusty shelf in the liquor store for much too long. Luckily, we're now experiencing a resurgence of quality apple distillates such as Clear Creek Distillery's Eau de Vie de Pomme.

After picking bushels and bushels of Golden Delicious apples grown on the slopes of Mt. Hood in Oregon, Clear Creek crushes and ferments the apples with skins, stems, and all. After distillation, the eau de vie ages in ex-Cognac Limousin oak barrels for a minimum of eight years, and is finally bottled at 80 proof.

A pale straw yellow in the glass, the nose is earthy apple skins, with an interesting spicy grass note in the background. It is intensely smooth on the palate, with a deep apple-y sweetness—a seriously juicy spirit with a medium body. However, the oak begins to overpower the apple mid-sip, making this a drink that may appeal more to traditional brandy drinkers. It finishes with more oak and lingering hints of baked apple pie.

As a digestif, this eau de vie would take any fruit tart to the next level. If you must mix it up, keep it in a spirit-forward cocktail. Try using it in place of brandy for an apple Sidecar. A delicious expression of apple brandy, with its lengthy aging and oaky profile it's more akin to Calvados than to your grandpa's applejack.

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