In terms of distilling experience, it’s hard to beat Laird’s, which has been making apple brandies since 1780. Pre-Prohibition, their straight applejack was produced at 86 proof, and their newest release is a revival of the historic recipe. The Straight Applejack 86 rolled out nationally in September and is a 100 percent apple brandy (the distinction being that most applejack is cut with a neutral grain spirit). 17 pounds of apples go into a single bottle and, as expected, the aroma is redolent with fresh apple and notes of vanilla and baking spice. The 86 is a perfect addition to cocktails, especially classics like the Jack Rose. $25, lairdandcompany.com.