Maine’s apples and maple syrup are well known for excellent quality and taste. Tree Spirits founder Bruce Olson experimented with apple and maple wines for years prior to starting Tree Spirits. He chose to make sparkling wines because they are fun to drink.
Our Apple and Pear extra dry sparkling wines are not sweet. In fact, they are a lot like prosecco. The Maple demi-sec is sweeter with a subtle maple taste. Like champagne, Tree Spirits sparkling wines should be served cold.
We also make a still wine, Apple Picnic, which is great with fish, chicken, pork and cheese; Maple Storm, a port-like blend of our maple wine and Knotted Maple spirits; and, two subLimes — Pear and Pomegranate to drink by themselves or as a sangria base with wine, sparkling or still.
The Apple Farm in Fairfield supplies us with the cider used to make our pear and apple wines. Their apple cider is made from Macintosh apples combined with a mix of late season varietals such as Permain, Golden Russet and Northern Spy. Macs have a well-balanced flavor profile, both sweet and tart with a hint of bitter. The late apples, sweetened by the frost, add their own complex set of flavors. The cider produced at The Apple Farm doesn’t contain preservatives and we think it’s the best around.
We get our syrup at the Bacon Farm in Sidney. It’s a diversified, family-owned farm and from late winter to early spring their sugar house is filled with the smell of boiling maple sap.
At Tree Spirits we know the people who grow the fruit, press the cider, and tap the trees for our wines. Maine agriculture is experiencing a renaissance driven by the local food movement. We believe this change has just begun and Tree Spirits hopes to grow along with it. Our sparkling wines are the best local alternative to champagne. The judges at the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition awarded a double gold medal in the Fruit Wine category to our Apple extra dry and a silver medal to our Maple demi-sec. These awards are proof that we aren’t alone in our belief that you can serve Tree Spirits sparkling wines with hors d’oeuvres, for dinner, at birthday celebrations and weddings with confidence.
Our Absinthe Verte is the only asbinthe produced in New England, and one of only a few produced in the US. We start with our Applejack and use an old recipe. Our herbs — anise, fennel, wormwood, petite wormwood, hyssop and lemon balm — are all organic. The final product is a light green, 130 proof spirit tasting like liquorice. Each month we are open we host an Absinthe tasting on the third Thursday offering a different Absinthe-based cocktail each time.
Tree Spirits Applejack springs from the long tradition of New England applejack. Once a popular drink in the American colonies, New England’s ports were flooded with molasses and rum by the mid-1800s and the apple spirit almost disappeared. Our applejack is distilled from our apple wine. We double distill the middle run to produce a drink that is aged in rum barrels which give it a golden color and a smooth finish.
The blending of the various runs allows us to achieve a balance of body, taste and smoothness.Applejack is officially apple brandy. We chose to call it applejack because applejack is a historic New England name that deserves to be resurrected and polished. Don’t just Call it Moonshine, an article in the New York Times reflects the growing interest in the apple spirit.
Tree Spirits Pear Brandy starts with pear cider which we get in a limited supply from the Apple Farm. How much we can distill in a year is entirely dependent on the weather since not as many pears are grown in Maine as apples. Our Pear Brandy is aged for a short while in an oak barrel to give it a beautiful gold color.
Knotted Maple made from our maple wine is also distilled in small batches. Not sweet, but very smooth. Serve it straight or use it in place of rum in your own mixed drink recipe. After dinner it’s great paired with dark chocolate. For the holidays, try some in your egg nog.
There are a few other micro-distillers producing maple spirits but ours is completely different because it is distilled from our maple wine. The taste of maple provides a subtle background for a complex series of flavors similar to a brandy. We can’t call it a brandy because according to government standards brandy must be made from fruit. Our formula for Knotted Maple was approved by the Feds and they placed it in their Specialty and Proprietary spirits classification. This makes it hard to tell people exactly what it is but really, we think it’s just another way of saying it’s special.
Distillation separates the alcohol from the water in the wine and concentrates it. The still at Tree Spirits isn’t much to look at, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in the quality of the spirits that come out of it. The still is a sophisticated apparatus that allows us to separate the “good stuff” from the rest of the distillate.
With a Double Gold (Pear), a Silver (Applejack), two Bronze medals (Knotted Maple & Absinthe), Down East Magazine 2016 Editor’s Choice, and a 2014 Maine Distiller of the Year award at international competitions, the judges seem to think it’s “good stuff”, too.