A Cidery’s Desire to Distill for Pommeau

January 19, 2010

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks produces a dessert drink Pommeau. Ben Watson’s Cider Hard and Sweet describes Pommeau as a Calvados or clear apple brandy blended with fresh sweet cider to produce a lightly sweet, reddish amber liqueur around 16-18% alcohol by volume. Wandering Aengus Ciderworks describes their Pommeau as:

“Pommeau is a unique apple dessert wine. Select heirloom cider apple varieties were fermented and then distilled. The resulting apple brandy, after aged 5 years in oak, was expertly blended with fresh juice from cider apples that offer diverse character – those with a wealth of tannins and those with plentiful sugars. Pommeau is a delicately sweet, surprisingly smooth, aromatic wine with an incredible brandy essence. Serve chilled or warm and enjoy as an aperitif, a dessert or with a meal. Production of only 100 cases every other year.”

In a way, this is very much like a Port Wine or Sherry, which is wine fortified with, or has added, grape brandy, but in this case, they are using apple juice and apple brandy.

When I was at Wandering Aengus Ciderworks after Thanksgiving, they were almost sold out. I asked them about Clear Creek Distillery, to which they responded that, yes, they did get the brandy from Clear Creek Distillery. However, it was a small custom batch that they requested, so it was quite expensive, which could help explain the $45 a bottle price tag. Wandering Aengus Ciderworks instead expressed interest in obtaining their own distilling and license.  They went on to explain that most large wineries blend all their wine from all the barrels together before bottling, but some barrels may have contained a slightly inferior wine. Rather than toss the wine, the makers blend it in with the other wine to keep the volume up believing that such a small amount would not affect the overall quality. What Wandering Aengus Ciderworks hopes to do is take their slightly inferior batches and distill them to make the Pommeau. This allows them to better control cider quality, find a use for slightly inferior cider, keep all of the production at their facility, and lower costs on the Pommeau. I say it sounds like a good idea.

One more thing I should note is that Watson does say it is easy to produce your own Pommeau by taking some fresh sweet cider, and add either cider brandy or clear apple eau-de-vie. He does caution about adding too much brandy, as the higher alcohol content will mask the fruit flavors, while not enough brandy might allow raw sweet cider to start fermenting unless it is treated.


2 Responses to “A Cidery’s Desire to Distill for Pommeau”

  1. […] organic cidery, and probably only one of two in the nation with the other being JK Scrumpy, though Wandering Aengus Ciderworks tried to be organic for a short while. As a result, they really only talked about the organic […]

  2. […] I have to say, I like this thinking. I recently poured five gallons of cider down the drain because it had a yeast film infection I couldn’t seem to get rid of. If I had bottled it, the infection would have come back. I could have pasteurized it, but I’m not set up to do that many bottles. Not that I’m set up to do distilling, either, but it would have been something new. And five gallons would have ended up as half a gallon of apple brandy, if that. Not only that, but in 2010, I made about 50 gallons of cider and wine, and I only did 40 gallons in 2011. I think, maybe if I could distill, I would ramp up production to make maybe a gallon of spirits (10 gallons more of cider?) a year, because I honestly don’t drink spirits that much. I sip cider and wine, but I down a cocktail. So the way I drink is faster, and my body just can’t handle the higher alcohol. However, I would be making pommeau. […]

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