Stepping outside my apartment one morning this week, I noticed the air smelled crisp and autumnal. Summer doesn't officially end until September 22, but plenty of things that herald the fall season are already upon us: the first day of school; the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah; and of course, apple-picking season.
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Developing a delicious hard cider is no easy feat. From farmer to scientist to master blender, aspiring cidermakers take on a variety of roles through their cider's long journey from fruit to glass. While there are as many methods to cider production as there are apple varieties, here's a general idea of how cider is made.
Apple brandy has a long and distinctive history in the United States, with the spirit produced by the nation's oldest continually operating distillery--still owned by the Laird family in New Jersey--making appearances in records of the Revolutionary War and in the diaries of George Washington. Literally, hundreds of small farm distilleries produced Applejack, New Jersey's signature spirit, during the nation's formative decades, and today artisan distilleries such as Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon and Germain-Robin in California, produce spectacular apple brandies.