Photo by Emily Gude Photography
Written by Mark A. Vierthaler, Head Distiller, Tenth Ward Distilling Company
There’s something inherently comforting about apple cider as it ferments.
Bright crisp fruity notes underlined by the soft sweet smell of alcohol. Actively bubbling along, the pops and fizzes crafting a relaxing lullaby. The smells and tastes as the yeast gobbles up sugars and makes beautiful, beautiful booze can evoke every single season.
This year-round appeal of the apple – and it’s inexorable link to Maryland – is exactly why we utilize our own house apple brandy as the basis for each of our seasonal liqueurs.
So while countless people may only think of apples in the autumn and winter months, only Tenth Ward was brave enough to taste our brandy and say – THIS is springtime.
The first seasonal release in the calendar year, our Springtime Liqueur has been alternatively described as “floral” or “a freshly bloomed garden” or “like taking a shot of springtime with a chaser of hootch.”
Truthfully – All adequate descriptions if you were to ask me.
What I like to call it is delicious. As mentioned above – just like our other seasonal liqueurs we start out with our apple brandy base. An apple brandy that is distilled from hard cider that we ferment in house using unfiltered apple cider from McCutcheon’s Apple Cider right here in Frederick.
Using our own proprietary blend of yeasts, we do a traditional open-top fermentation that allows not only our chosen yeast, but also the wild yeasts of Frederick to turn those freshly pressed apples into beautiful, beautiful booze.
After just over a week of fermentation, we distill the cider in our pot-column hybrid still (lovingly named Falcor) to produce an unaged apple brandy. The platonic ideal of the fruit – it smells and tastes just like biting into a fresh apple right out of your orchard.
We then take this high-proof eau-de-vie (water of life) and essentially create big-ass tea bags of our own mix of fresh herbs and spices. The Colonel ain’t got nothing on us. Unlike the Colonel, however, we’re happy to tell you exactly what our blend is.
Ah yes. Galium odoratum, the sweet scented bedstraw. Also known as wild baby’s breath and master of the woods. Woodruff is a strongly scented, sweet flowering perennial. It’s probably most well known for its usage in Germany to flavor May wine (Maibowle). It’s the woodruff that lends that baseline feeling of springtime and blooming flowers to the Springtime.
No, this ain’t sleepy-time tea. Although we certainly wouldn’t blame you if you start to feel relaxed while sipping on a glass of our Springtime. Well-grown and well-dried chamomile boasts its own distinctive apple-like aroma and flavors that help to boost the bright sweetness of the woodruff, while underlining the apple brandy base.
How to describe cardamom to someone who has never been able to enjoy this unique spice? Cardamom boasts an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance that’s often used in both Indian and Nordic cooking. In terms of booze production, it’s often used in traditional London Dry gins. This intense hit of flavor works to bolster the brighter notes of both the chamomile as well as the woodruff.
What’s the difference between nutmeg and mace? Nutmeg is the seed. Mace is the outside covering of said nut. Both come from the Myristica fragrans – a dark-leaved evergreen tree. Nutmeg brings a nutty, but slightly spicy, note to the liqueur. This distinctive spice works to prevent the entire liqueur from just heading down the road to over-sweet syrup.
I mean… It’s vanilla. That sweet, lovely bean. Vanilla offers its distinctive flavor to help balance the spice of the nutmeg, underline the vegetal sweetness of the woodruff, and to also add what I like to call “implied” sweetness. The idea that even with additional sweeteners, because we so often associate vanilla with sweet, it enhances everything around it.
Salted Roasted Almonds
Sure, call us nuts. But, just think of amaretto. Think of almond meltaways. That lovely, nutty, sweet, velvety flavor blooming across your palate. Utilizing salted roasted almonds then adds a nice kick of savory to turn the volume up on all the other flavors we’ve already talked about. Salt is the amplifier – and almonds are the chorus working to bring all the other flavors to the forefront.
You didn’t think you’d get away without more apples, do you? We specifically choose extra-tart apples – extra tart to really underline the bright apple flavor we’ve worked so hard to preserve in the apple brandy. Extra tart to elevate the surrounding heavier flavors and stop them from becoming bogged down in their own flavors.
Each of these botanicals has been specifically chosen to work well together, offering distinctive layers of flavors within the liqueur – and yet still working all together in harmony.
Mixing it Up
You know we won’t leave you hanging on how to mix this delicious ambrosia up!
- 1.5 oz Springtime
- .5 oz white wine
- .25 elder flower syrup
- Ginger Beer
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1 orange slice
- Pour springtime, white wine, syrup into goblet
- Fill with ice
- Top with ginger beer
- Garnish with an orange, lemon and lime wheel
- .75 Genever
- .75 Springtime
- .25 Simple Syrup
- 4 cucumber chunks
- 1 lime wedge
- 2 large or 4 small basil leaves
- Club soda
- Wrap cucumber ribbon in glass
- In a shaker muddle cucumber pieces, lime, basil and simple syrup
- Add springtime and gin to shaker
- Shake and double strain into glass
- Fill with ice
- Top with splash of club soda
- 1 oz Springtime
- 3 oz Champagne
- Pour Springtime Liqueur
- Top with champagne
Bottle Club Members: You know what to do
Even though this isn’t a dedicated Bottle Club member release, Bottle Club members do have the luxury of pre-reserving this special spirit before it’s released to the public. That means you get first dibs on as many bottles as you can carry before this limited product sells out to the public.
If you’re not a Bottle Club member you can sign up today for free. Bottle Club members get all the perks at Tenth Ward, including 50% off spirit tastings and flights for themselves and a guest every time they visit the Cocktail Lab, 10% off all merchandise, four amazing Bottle Club-only releases per year, special invite to Bottle Club-only events, and more. Just check out our blog about the Perks of Being a Bottle Club Member here.