© 2020 sangfroid distilling, llc

5130 baltimore ave., hyattsville, md 20781

info@sangfroiddistilling.com

Brandies

All brandy is made from fruit. The best brandies are made from whole, ripe fruit, and nothing else. Our brandies embody these European (and, before prohibition, American) traditions of capturing the freshness and vibrancy of ripe fruit and quite literally distilling its purity.

 

Grimes golden Apple brandy

This is a single variety apple brandy – only Grimes Golden apples, largely sourced from old trees growing in our orchard in western Maryland. Grimes is one of the oldest American apple varieties, discovered growing from a seedling in West Virginia around the turn of the 18th century. It was once grown widely in the mid-atlantic, mostly for cider and brandy-making, because the fruit has tremendous sugars and acids, and the tree produces a reliable crop every year. Alas, like a lot of our fruit-growing and spirits-producing traditions, prohibition did a number on this great apple, with thousands of acres of trees destroyed to make way for more insipid varieties. Luckily, a few hundred old trees still stand in our orchard.

 

Pressed and naturally fermented in used bourbon barrels, the cider is then distilled twice in a Charentais-style pot still. Aged for about a year in a combination of new, charred American oak and toasted French oak barrels. This is a very robust apple brandy that can stand up nicely in any whiskey cocktail, like an old fashioned, but we also enjoy sipping this one slightly chilled on those cool, dark autumn evenings.

 

Fruit: Grimes Golden apples

Cooperage: 15 gallon toasted French oak and new charred American oak

Availability: Fall and winter

 

Wild apple brandy

We’ve been called purists. We don’t think we are, but, if that label is going to be applied, it’s most appropriate for our wild apple brandy. No other expression better embodies our approach to fruit-growing and brandy-making than our wild apple brandy. Apples are one of the most genetically diverse species on the planet, and the idea that the handful of varieties available in your local grocery store represent the variety of flavors that apples can exhibit is almost offensive.

 

This brandy is our best effort to showcase that diversity. All the apples here are truly wild – grown from seed, unnamed, unsprayed, and, to borrow from Andy Brennan, uncultivated. It takes a tremendous amount of work to, first of all, identify trees that fit the bill. It mostly involves cruising around old mountain towns, farming villages, and homesteads, looking for apple trees growing along a fence line or on the edges of wooded lots. Untended trees grow differently than manicured orchard trees – they’re gnarly, crooked, and often hard to get to. But damn, the payoff is worth it. Most of the apples in this brandy are bitter- and acidic-tasting, and you wouldn’t want to eat them fresh out of hand. And they’re the apples that make the best cider and brandy. We grind and press them, ferment naturally in used oak barrels, and distill the cider twice in our alembic-style pot still. Aged in toasted French oak, this is pure apple.

 

Fruit: mostly wild apples from seedling trees, and a bit of heirloom fruit grown on unsprayed trees (Stayman, Winesap, Hewe’s Crab, Black Twig, Myer’s Royal Limbertwig, Harrison, and some Kazakh/American hybrids)

Cooperage: 15 gallon toasted French oak

Availability: Very limited, fall and winter

 

Cherry brandy

We use Montmorency cherries, one of the oldest sour cherry varieties, with some records dating its origin as far back as the 13th century. The cherries are naturally fermented whole to complete dryness – pits and all – for about a month, and we then double-distill the cherry wine in our alembic-style pot still.

 

In German-speaking regions, this spirit is known as a kirchwasser, and in French-speaking regions, an eau de vie de cerise. Dry, earthy, and robust, American palates are ready for an authentic cherry brandy.

 

Fruit: Montmorency cherries

Availability: Very limited, late summer, early fall

Pear brandy

“Pears for your heirs.” That’s what we heard when we first started planting pear trees. Pear trees take a long time to start bearing fruit – a decade or more, usually – but the trees can survive for hundreds of years. So, as the saying goes, you’re really planting pears not for this lifetime, but for future generations. Ironically, pears themselves are ripe for a fleetingly short period of time. Distilling them into an eau de vie, or “water of life,” is a way to capture the vibrancy and freshness of perfectly ripe fruit.

 

While we wait for our pear trees to grow and mature, we use Bartletts grown in Pennsylvania by our friends at Frecon Farms. In Europe, Bartletts are known as Williams pears, and there’s a long tradition of distilling them into an eau de vie because the character of a ripe Bartlett pear carries through into the spirit unlike all other pears. A ripe pear is a delicate thing, and this brandy no less so.

 

Fruit: Almost entirely Bartletts, with some wild, foraged pears thrown in for good measure

Availability: late fall, early winter

 

Whiskeys

 

Rye whiskey

Maryland rye whiskey, as a unique and distinct product, has a long history. The problem is, the history is a little murky, and our reading of it even more so. How is Maryland rye different from Pennsylvania rye, or Monongahela rye? Was George Washington making anything similar to what we know today as rye whiskey? How can a three-chamber still, introduced more than 200 years after rye whiskey had first been made in the region, define the style? We’re not really sure, so we fall back on what we know.

 

Our approach to our rye whiskey reflects our approach to making spirits – use the best ingredients we can get, treat them properly and carefully, and transform them into a spirit that reflects the place, the moment, and the people of our community. That means sourcing our rye and malted barley from farms in Maryland, grown by farmers we know. We sour the mash, distill it twice through a pot still, and then age the spirit in charred, new American oak barrels. It’s “young,” in the sense that Kentucky would like you to believe, but Maryland rye is meant to be young. It all starts and ends in Maryland. That, to us, is Maryland rye whiskey.

 

Mashbill: roughly 2/3 rye, 1/3 malted barley

Cooperage: 15 gallon charred new American oak

Age: 9 months to a year

Availability: year-round

Spelt whiskey

Spelt is one of the oldest varieties of grain, closely related to wheat, that is still cultivated. Often used for bread-making, spelt used to be a common grain for making beer and spirits in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Growing spelt requires much less fertilizer than a typical hard red wheat, which appeals our fruit-growing philosophy of using less inputs.

The flavor profile of our spelt whiskey is softer than the rye, with a little more fruit on the nose and front of the palate and a dry finish. Incredibly unique. 

Mashbill: roughly 2/3 spelt, 1/3 malted barley

Cooperage: 15 gallon charred new American oak

Age: 9 months to a year

Availability: Very limited, to be released Fall 2020

 
Gins
Dutch-style gin

The Dutch word for juniper is jenever (pronounced yuh NAY ver, or, depending on where you’re at in Belgium, zhuh NEÉ ver), which is why we call gin, gin. The Dutch (who argue with Belgians about this) first started making a juniper-based spirit in the 1500s, which evolved into the modern, London-style dry gins we know today. Those gins start with a base of vodka. Since vodka (or “neutral spirits,” as you’ll often see on labels of this type) is flavorless, all of the flavor is coming from the botanical mix in the London-style.

 

Our version of gin is more similar to those early Dutch iterations, heavy on the grain character from the rye and barley spirit base, and simply flavored with a botanical mix of juniper, coriander seed, and angelica root. Since this spirit begins with rye and malted barley grains, their character carries through because we produce something akin to an unaged whiskey first, which we then flavor with our botanicals. If we’re being technical, this is an oude jenever, or old jenever, which refers to the style rather than any aging. But, because a lot of spirits were traditionally stored in oak barrels, it’s common to find aged versions of jenevers in the Netherlands and Belgium.

 

Mashbill: 2/3 rye, 1/3 malted barley

Botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, angelica root

Availability: year-round

 

Barrel-finished dutch-style gin

Very simple. We age our dutch-style gin in charred American oak barrels. The federal government tells us that we can’t say “aged,” or imply any barrel aging, on our labels, so we call this a barrel-finished gin, whatever that means.

 

This is aged, variously, in new charred oak barrels and once-used barrels. The char contributes that familiar whiskey character, and the botanicals mellow on the finish into what we describe as mint, and maybe almost menthol.

 

Mashbill: 2/3 rye, 1/3 malted barley

Botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, angelica root

Cooperage: 15 gallon charred new and used American oak

Age: 6 to 9 months

Availability: year-round