Commercial Division Only
In general, oak aged brandies follow same guidelines as eau de vie. Head and tail characters are faults. Apple is subtle, pear more overt. Barrel character may range from toasted wine barrel (toast and coconut, light yellow color) to charred whisky barrel (smoke, spice, dark amber color) – but you should be able to taste the barrel.
Apple brandies fall into two main camps – calvados (French) and apple jack (American mid-Atlantic colonies/states). Calvados is fermented from a French style cider and is dominated by the wild fermentation flavors. These accent the heads. They can give a green apple impression to some tasters, but commercial samples are often excellent candidates to illustrate acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate and (rarely) diacetyl. A calvados-style apple brandy should be heady, and should have muted barrel character. American apple brandies / apple jacks should not evidence heads, but rounded, generic apple or apple blossom flavors and aroma, varietal character being a plus, some spiciness is acceptable, partnered with smooth barrel character that shouldn’t overwhelm. Entry must declare whether it is a calvados or apple jack style brandy. This category may be split if the number of entries warrants it.
Note: Apple jack brandy is not to be confused with cider that has been concentrated by freezing. Cider concentrated by freezing after fermentation includes concentrated heads and tails and is excluded from this competition due to adverse effects related to toxicity.