There’s a passing of the guard taking place in the spirits and distilling market these days. The traditional methods and practices while proven and effective are at the same time inefficient and cumbersome. In other words, anti-exploration, which is a bitter pill the guys at ASW Distillery refuse to swallow. Instead of being motivated by traditional distilling, product offering, and aging methods, ASW seeks to build their brand outside of the constraints that be.
“We are motivated by quality not demand. By flavor not tradition.” Says Co-Founder Jim Chasteen. This philosophy is perfectly illustrated in their first American Single Malt collaboration release for Monday Night Brewing. Instead of aging the distilled spirit between 4 to 6 years in full size 53 gallon barrels in the common Single Malt style, the Monday Night is left “young, wild, & free” of the constraints of traditional method. Too see my review of the Monday Night American Single Malt, click HERE.
The old gods be dammed, they are aging the spirit in both 53gal and 15gal barrels then combining them to hit “the perfect smoke note from the Cherry Wood Smoked Barley mash instead of aging it to the point that it tastes like any other Single Malt on the market”.
While we’re on the subject of uncommon approach to the spirits market, let’s talk about an ASW product that doesn’t just stand out, it stands alone. I’m talking about their Armour & Oak Apple Brandy. Apple Brandy has been around since the early colonial US, in fact, George Washington himself used to brew it in the basement of the White House. However, most modern iterations have gotten away from the vibrant and fresh taste profile of the colonial brandy of yesteryear. Today, most of the brandy market is occupied by spirits aged in barrels to the point that the founding fruit flavor of the spirit is completely indistinguishable from the taste of the oak. Not so with Armour & Oak.
Tasting Notes: Armour & Oak isn’t overtly sweet like you might expect an apple brandy to be. Instead of applesauce and syrup it’s more fresh apple right off of the tree. When you first “bite” into this spirit, you get a mouthful of Cripp and Honeycrisp Apple notes which give way to bretty (ferment yeast) and wildflower honey akin to a meade. The finish is crisp and light with some touches of vanilla on the backend.
Prep: Unlike other apple brandies on the market which usually top out at 80 proof, Armour & Oak isn’t afraid to bring the heat at 100 proof. This added alcohol percentage allows the apple notes to really shine when it’s used in a cocktail. Speaking of, I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a close industry pal of mine Daniel Ray, Co-Owner of The Old Pal in Athens, GA. Daniel is huge fan of the Armour & Oak Brandy, not just because it’s an outstanding product, but also because ASW’s Master Distiller Justin Manglitz is an Athens native. He recommends we go with a Peycahud’s heavy Sazerac here. Also, he made sure to mention, “You might want to get your affairs in order before you imbibe, because you’re about to see the face of God.”
Rating: While a glass of Armour & Oak Apple Brandy a day, might not keep the doctor away, it will definitely get you more in touch with your American heritage. So, from 1 to America how star spangled awesome is ASW’s Armour & Oak Apple Brandy?