The fourth product release from Republic Restoratives, Washington D.C.’s community-funded and community-driven craft distillery, is rooted in one of America’s oldest spirits-making traditions.
The orchard-to-glass story of Republic’s latest launch, Chapmans Apple Brandy, starts in Adams County, Pa. where farmer and friend Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm grew the 2016 crop of Jonagold, Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp apples that were chosen specifically for this product. Within hours of cold pressing, the fresh juice was delivered to Ivy City, D.C. where it was fermented using a delicate wine yeast, premier cuvee, and allowed to rest on the lees for approximately two months. Lees resting originated in France and is typical of wine production but is not often embraced in spirits distillation. The process results in a richer, fuller flavor that some describe like both smelling and tasting the essence of apple.
Republic Restoratives distilled Chapmans in its dual kettle hybrid pot/column system and then carefully aged the brandy spirit for six months in a 50/50 blend of American and French oak barrels.
The spirit has a golden hue in the glass. On the nose, the rich aroma of baked golden delicious apple comes through first, followed by pear, white chocolate, and caramel notes. It has a medium body, and flavor profile that marries zest of Buddha’s hand with a foundation of honeycrisp apple, bosc pear, honeydew melon, and white peach. Rounding everything out is Chapman’s long finish, punctuated by notes of candied ginger that leave you wanting more.
Apple Brandy has a long and rich history in America. Early in our country’s history, people like Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman were growing and teaching others how to farm apples as a way to create and grow wealth among a new and young citizenry. Chapman was also giving young Americans a way to unwind. Notes Michal Pollan in The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World: “Really, what Johnny Appleseed was doing and the reason he was welcome in every cabin in Ohio and Indiana was he was bringing the gift of alcohol to the frontier. He was our American Dionysus.”
During Prohibition, Chapman’s apple orchards provoked the ire of the FBI and were systematically destroyed. Today, Apple Brandy is making a comeback in America.
“Chapmans is the living representation of everything we’re trying to do at Republic Restoratives,” says distiller and co-founder Rachel Gardner. “It was born from a collaboration with a local farmer, produced using centuries old techniques and is answering the call from barkeeps around the region for a local interpretation of America’s oldest spirit. We’re incredibly proud to release the 2016 harvest of Chapmans Apple Brandy.”
Republic Restoratives is launching Chapmans on Sunday, November 5th with a harvest themed party at the Ivy City distillery featuring breakfast pizza from Timber Pizza and made-to-order apple cider donuts from Migues Donuts.