In 1717, Robert Laird, a descendent of a Scottish emigrant distiller, built the Colts Neck Inn in Colts Neck, New Jersey. His inn served as a stopping point for stagecoaches and surviving records show that ‘cyder spirits’ now known as applejack was a standard item on the menu. Robert Laird was a Revolutionary War soldier serving under George Washington, and the Laird family supplied the troops with Applejack.
Lairds Applejack distillery flourished at the Colts Neck Inn site until 1849, when a fire burned the distillery to the ground. The distillery was re-built at its current Scobeyville site and in 1851 expanded commercial production began.
In the early 1900’s, sixth generation Joseph T. Laird, Jr. enabled his company to survive Prohibition by producing other apple products, such as sweet cider and applesauce. In 1933, Laird & Company was granted a federal license under the Prohibition Act to produce Apple Brandy for medicinal purposes, allowing the company to have aged inventories of Applejack available immediately after the repeal of Prohibition. Applejack production continued until the outbreak of World War II when the plant was converted to the drying and dehydration of apple pomace for production of pectin and other products to aid in the war effort.
Today, Lairds is recognized as being the oldest operating distillery in the USA and eighth generation Larrie W. Laird heads the family-run distillery with a production capability of three million cases annually.