Old Clifty Hoosier Apple brandy pays tribute to the more than 150 Southern Indiana apple brandy distilleries. These distilleries once dotted the landscape along the creeks, tributaries, and springs that still trickle with limestone water, in the southern tier of the Hoosier state between 1855 and 1914. The Old Clifty distillery, pictured on the label, was a legendary distillery belonging to Mr. Henry Robertson. It was located in what is now known as a Cave River Valley Nature Preserve north of Campbellsburg Indiana. This distillery produced roughly 20,000 gallons of apple brandy yearly from 1818-1904.
Old Clifty is fermented from fresh-pressed Michigan apple juice. The juice ferments at 67 degrees for around 14 days to preserve all the natural flavor and aroma of the apples, only making minor adjustments to pH as needed. This process allows the full fruit bouquet of the apples to come forward. After fermentation Spirits of French Lick strips the wine in their 1200-gallon stripping still down to 20 proof to retain all the “sweet water” and essential oil of the distillate. It's double pot distilled with an average proof ceiling of 135 and entered into the barrel at still strength. For the second run, it enters the 350-gallon copper pot still, Sophia, to make cuts. They only take the finest, sweetest, and most aromatic distillate to the next stage of the process.
Old Cliffty enters the maturation process at a still proof of around 135 proof. This batch entered into once used re-charred wine barrels of 63-gallon capacity with a number 2 char and new American oak toasted head. The brandy was subsequently matured in Spirits of French Lick maturation Chai for two years, never dropping below 55 degrees or rising above 90 degrees to make use of all four seasons and to retain all of the aromatic volatility. After two years, barrels were carefully hand-selected by the distiller and blended to profile. Barrels were then married together in blending Vat number 2 and proofed down over a year-long period to a bottling proof of 90. This further tank maturation gave the assemblage time to come together and experience slight micro oxidation in a neutral environment.
That is a long way of saying this is a long and laborious process. But, if you taste this Brandy, you'll appreciate the hard work!