Applejack is a uniquely American type of apple brandy which was widely produced during the 1700’s in North America. It was made by placing hard cider in wooden barrels and exposing them to freezing temperatures during winter. The water in the hard cider froze in the top of the barrel and could easily be removed. This concentrated the alcohol.
In much the same way as antifreeze keeps your car’s radiator from freezing, Alcohol depresses the freezing point of the cider (up to a point). The colder the winter, the stronger the Applejack. For this reason, Apple Jack was only really produced in New Jersey, New York, New England and Canada. In the south they had to use distillation.
The alcoholic content of applejack has varied greatly through the years, depending on the method used to make it. By the early twenty first century all commercial applejack was made through distillation, which produces a product that is about 70 proof.
A major commercial producer of applejack, Laird and Company of Scobeyville, New Jersey, which began making the brandy in 1698 when William Laird moved to Monmouth county, New Jersey from Scotland and began making Scotch by using one of the most abundant resources in the area apples. During the Revolutionary War, Robert Laird served under George Washington and during the Battle of Monmouth the Laird family would supply the troops with Applejack.