Weekend Sip: Could this be the next big thing in apple?
The bottle: Barking Irons Applejack, $ 45
The back story: Is applejack poised to become the next bourbon or rye? Certainly, that’s what the folks behind the newly released Barking Irons are hoping. They’re touting their made-in-New York product as a tasty alternative to those classic sips, saying it’s got a smooth appeal and just the right hint of sweetness (it’s derived from apples, after all — essentially, think of applejack as a hard cider that’s even stronger, but it’s also a product that’s slightly different than apple brandy).
More to the point: The Barking Irons folks are saying applejack is a spirit with as much of an American pedigree as bourbon or rye, noting that it has a history in this country going back to Colonial times. These days, however, the applejack category is largely dominated by one brand, Laird’s, which was established in 1780. That arguably leaves room for a smaller, craft-style competitor — and Barking Irons touts its artisanal approach, pointing to how it sources its hard cider base from an upstate New York producer and how it ages its product — at a Brooklyn distiller, no less — in specialty oak barrels. Oh, and the brand takes its moniker from a slang, 19th-century New York term for pistols, licensing the name from a New York fashion company with something of a cool cachet.
Ultimately, says Barking Irons creator Elliott Phear, who has a background in marketing spirits, the brand should be able to take advantage of the growing interest in all things apple (think the increased emphasis on unusual varieties) and in all things hard cider (hard cider sales shot up a remarkable 75% in 2014). “Cider is having a moment, so why not applejack?” says Phear.
What we think about it: We’ve often wondered why applejack is not more popular, since it’s such an easy-sipping, approachable spirit (but it’s one that can pack a boozy punch — Barking Irons comes in at 100 proof). And when we sip Barking Irons, we wonder even more: This is indeed a solid alternative to American whiskey, with a subtle apple flavor and some nice notes of spice and smoke (the barrels are charred). It’s also the perfect drink for fall — think of this as a trip to go apple picking in a glass.
How to enjoy it: The Barking Irons team encourages sippers to try the spirit neat to appreciate applejack in all its apple-y goodness. But Barking Irons can go in cocktails: Phear suggests using it as a substitute for whiskey in classic drinks like the Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. If you’re trying to locate a bottle at a store, distribution is limited to New York at this time, but the spirit is also sold online.