Apple brandy is the original New England spirit. For settlers arriving in America, grain sources of starch for fermentation were hard to come by and apple trees proved hardy enough to tolerate New England winters and even thrive. Hard cider was consumed as a daily beverage from early colonial times. Seeking a more powerful product, New Englanders “jacked” their cider by allowing the fermented juice to freeze and then removing the ice to leave a more concentrated and alcoholic beverage behind. When stills were brought over by other immigrants, the cider was also distilled into apple brandy. Because of the relative abundance of apples — and before the triangle trade brought in sugar products — apple brandy or “jack” was the main source of distilled spirits in the colonies. Since Vermont is endowed with apple orchards and it represents part of our Green Mountain heritage, Mad River Distillers sources the apples locally, focusing on heirloom varieties to seek to create the essence of Vermont, a salute to our state. We also use the apples from our farm — there are over 50 apple trees dotted around the fields surrounding the distillery, a remnant from Cold Spring’s early days as a working farm. Our apple brandy is very fruit forward — exactly how we had hoped when we sourced our Mueller still in Germany. We carefully age the brandy in new and used American oak barrels to create Malvados, a Wicked Vermont Apple Brandy.