Nearby Rogers Orchards Has Hand in Central Connecticut Moonshine Business

The apple pie moonshine — one of the most popular products in the fast-growing Hickory Ledges Farm & Distillery moonshine business — starts in the orchards of Southington near the Berlin line.

By Patch Editor John Fitts.

Whether it’s on your plate or in a mason jar, Apple Pie is a true American classic.

Now the latter is made — legally — by Lynne and Bill Olson at Hickory Ledges Farm & Distillery, with a little help from the apple orchards near the Southington/Berlin line.

“It’s like your grandma’s apple pie, with a kick,” said Lynne Olson, co-owner of the farm on Bahre Corner Road in Canton.

The farm, long known for its fresh pressed apple cider and other products, recently launched Full Moonshine. The first in a series of distilled spirits is Apple Pie, a flavor named for the spices and fresh-pressed apple cider used to make it. But it isn't the apples from the Canton farm that make the recipe — it's the cider from Rogers Orchards.

The Olsons went through a long approval process with the state and federal government to make it all legal but said it’s the real deal, a distilled drink with corn liquor, its own apple cider and spices.

“It’s by definition, the real apple pie,” Lynne Olson said. “Our big thing was to make it all natural.”

And while the southern Appalachian Mountain region may be famous (or infamous) for its moonshine history, there was also quite a bit of activity in the northeast as well, Olson said.

The drink can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including on the rocks, chilled or warmed.

“It’s delicious and it’s local,” said Steve Drouin, manager at Bahre’s Package store in Canton.  In just over two weeks the store has sold close to 100 bottles.

Cost is approximately $18 a jar, which is about the same size as a typical wine bottle.

With final approvals about a month ago, the product is in several area package stores including Bahre’s and Wine and Liquor Warehouse in Canton, and Liquor Depot, West Street Wines and Valley Fine Wine and Spirits in Simsbury.

John Andreo, owner at Valley Fine Wine and Spirits, said it’s a great product. He loves the fact that it utilizes locally grown products and feels the timing — right before fall — is perfect.

“I think it’s a natural to have Hickory Ledges Full Moonshine Apple Pie kick off the season,” he said, adding that the store will do some upcoming tastings. “I’m happy to support a fellow local business.”

Some restaurants, such as Dish n’ Dat in Canton and the Captain Daniel Packer Inne in Mystic also carry it. With approvals in place, the farm plans to spend more time on getting other places to carry the moonshine.

Hickory Ledges has spent approximately a year and a half working toward the producing the product. The Olsons, with the help of their children Whitney and Taylor, has come up with the recipe, graphics, labels, marketing and every other detail.

They are a certified manufacturer and distributor but cannot sell it at the farm on Bahre Corner Road. However, they can offer tastings and plan to do so this fall.

The moonshine offers another way to keep the farm viable.

“We see it as an extension of the agriculture business,” Lynne Olson said.

Hickory Ledges Farm is 100 years old this year and Bill and Lynne have run it for 25.

It’s a good way to celebrate that mark, said Bill Olson. He also added that their cider press came from a winery in Vermont, which got the wheels turning to produce some type of alcoholic drink.

“Twenty years ago when we bought the machine, it was kind of a thought in the back of our minds,” he said.

Since that time, the farm has been well known for several products including unpasteurized apple cider, which it presses from apples grown at Roger’s Orchards in Southington.

The distillery is currently working on a second moonshine offering but needs further approvals before disclosing and offering to local retailers.

Beginning this weekend the farm will begin selling fall products from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

While it can't sell the moonshine directly, the farm will have some tastings. Details will be forthcoming.

The farm has a web site at http://www.hickoryledges.com that it hopes to soon update with more details and events. It is also working on creating facebook and twitter pages.

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