Apple Pie Moonshine is a great treat to enjoy in late summer/early fall as the hot temperatures start to cool down and the leaves begin to change. I’ve got an awesome recipe for it at the bottom of this blog, but be forewarned: It’s deceptively delicious! You don’t realize how strong it is as you’re drinking—until you stand up...
Believe it or not, Apple Pie Moonshine is NOT the same thing as Applejack AKA “Jersey Lightning” though! The difference is in the process. You make Apple Pie Moonshine by evaporative distillation, typically using some kind of moonshine still, but Applejack is made by freeze distillation. It actually gets its name from “jacking,” which is another word for “freeze distillation.”
What is Applejack?
During Colonial times, people made cider in the fall and then left it out to freeze during the winter. They’d intermittently remove frozen chunks of ice, which would cause the unfrozen alcohol to become more concentrated in the remaining liquid. So the cider in the fall had maybe a 10% alcohol content before it was frozen. But after the freeze distillation/jacking process throughout in the winter, the concentrated result yielded 3-4 times the alcohol content. Kind of similar to evaporative distillation if you think about it, but instead of boiling off the parts you don’t want, you’re freezing off just the water and concentrating everything else. Pretty neat! But nowadays, Applejack is often made from apple brandy instead of freeze distillation. If you want to make true Applejack, try the freezing method this winter, starting with apple cider. (Note: Freeze distillation also falls under the same category of evaporative distillation and may not be legal in some areas. As always, it is your responsibility to consult your local laws to determine if you can legally participate in this practice.)
Apple Pie Moonshine Recipe
Now for the moonshine! As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is delicious—smooth and sweet—and surprisingly strong.
• 750ml moonshine or VERY high-proof vodka
• 1-2 cups dark or spiced rum
• 1 quart apple juice
• 1 gallon apple cider
• 3 cups brown sugar
• 1 cup white sugar
• 10 cinnamon sticks
1. Combine apple cider and apple juice in a large pot. Simmer on low to medium heat (you want to see a few bubbles are rising to the surface--NOT to the point of boiling) and then stir in sugars.
2. Continue to stir slowly for 5-10 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool until it reaches about room temperature. It's important to note that waiting for it to cool could take a few hours, and that's fine. You don't want to add the alcohol too soon because you don't want the heat to evaporate the alcohol.
3. After it reaches room temperature, stir in your vodka and rum.
4. Time to jar your moonshine! You can use bottles or mason jars, as long as the lid gives you a tight seal. in the mason jars. Put a cinnamon stick in each bottle for aging.
5. If you want to keep the proof high but cut down on a strong taste, allow it to age 2-3 weeks, as the cinnamon and sugar will really shine through and give it a smooth flavor profile.