Apple jack is traditionally freeze distilled apple wine or hard cider. I had some home-made apple wine made from concentrated apple juice that wasn’t very good, it was already in a plastic Southern Comfort bottle, and last night it was 10 degrees F outside. As shown on this website, that means that any liquid at 10 F should be about 25% alcohol. How cold it is directly impacts (and limits) the percentage of alcohol in the final product. So, I drank a bit out of the bottle to allow for expansion, and set it outside. Aging had, if anything, made the apple wine taste worse. Just horrible. Before bed, after three hours or so, I was pretty disappointed as I saw no ice forming; however, looking at this picture more closely I think I do see some very small ice crystals throughout the wine.
Come morning it looked like solid slush in the bottle. I smashed it up a bit with an iced tea spoon, and poured it onto a fine mesh cloth in a strainer over a bowl. Then, like Julia Roberts taught me how to squeeze water out of spinach, I squeezed out the liquid. Since the ice crystals aren’t squishy like spinach pulp, it was a much faster process, which was good because it was still 10 degrees out and cold on my bare hands!
I started with 7 cups of apple wine and wound up with 3 cups of apple jack. The ice was very light colored after it was squeezed.
Assuming the 3 cups of apple jack is 25% alcohol, then the starting liquid was about 11%; however, my highly calibrated ethanol meter (my tongue) measured 3-4% alcohol in the watery leavings. The chickens may have gotten some 4th day of Christmas joy out of it!
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t only the alcohol that was concentrated by the freeze distillation, but also every unpleasant flavor in the stuff — and any residual sweetness was destroyed. I’m fairly grim when it comes to consuming culinary mistakes. Me and Ben: waste not want not. But this may have been over the line. I added 3 tablespoons of sugar (one for each cup) and threw in a cinnamon stick. After just a few hours it was much improved because cinnamon tastes good. I’ll leave that stick in there at least a few days longer then, with Ben nodding approvingly, do what must be done.
12/18/15 Update: The sugar and cinnamon stick did the trick. The doctored apple jack is wonderful stuff!