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How a farmer in the Laurentians turns apples into alcohol

The farm has been operating since 1925, but it was only five years ago that Eric Lafrance, the farm's owner, bought the equipment to distil apples.

Domaine Lafrance orchard in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que., turns apples into brandy, gin and vermouth

Turning apples into alcohol 1:18

What do you do with all your leftover apples from apple-picking season?

Apple farmer Eric Lafrance decided to turn his fruit into alcohol.

Owner of the Domaine Lafrance orchard in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que., about 20 minutes north of Montreal, Lafrance transform his apples into brandy, gin and vermouth.

The farm has been operating since 1925, but it was only five years ago that Lafrance bought equipment to distil apples.

"We're proud of making premium spirits from the fruits produced by our orchard," said the distillery's technical manager Laurent Paquette Boisclair.

CBC Montreal got a tour of the distillery to see how apple spirits are made.  

The Domaine Lafrance has 13,000 trees that produce about 725 thousand kilograms of apples each season.  After the apples are picked they're brought into the distillery. 

In the distillery, workers sort the apples before they're turned into cider. 

The apples are loaded into a machine that washes them. 

After the apples are washed, they go up a conveyor belt that drops them into a grinder. ​

The apples are mashed into a pulp and then move onto a press that creates the cider.

All day long, apple cider flows out of the press and into vats that are sent to the still to create spirits.  

What remains of the apples is a crusty-looking mix of skin and fruit fibre. 

A still is used to create the alcoholic drinks. It works by heating the cider, which is mixed with other ingredients like yeast. 

The distilled drink comes out of this spout and is collected in a bucket. 

The brandy is aged in barrels made from American oak. 

The drinks are then bottled and sold to vendors like the SAQ. 

About the Author

Craig Desson

Journalist

Craig Desson is a journalist at CBC Montreal. He was born in Montreal and has lived in Ottawa, Toronto, Germany and Sierra Leone. Craig has also worked for CBC Radio.