make high-alcohol apple wine from cider and use a distilling apparatus to separate the liquid from the alcohol (a brandy, in essence) or freeze distill your wine. The latter concentrates the bad alcohol, though, and can get you very sick if you partake too much. Legal? Probably not....but I am NOT speaking from experience...no.
I don't see a location by your name, so I can't speak to the legality of it specifically where you are at. Here in the US it is illegal to distill with heat. You can concentrate with a freezing process because it isn't considered distilling. There is debate on that, but I saw a podcast recently where they showed you how to create eisebier and how to make it (freeze concentration) and they said they called the ATF (who told them they don't monitor anymore and sent them to a tax agency), and the tax agency told them that they don't care if home makers freeze concentrate their beverages. Heated stills are another story entirely.
In other countries, however, it may be completely legal to build a still and make real apple jack. Check the laws in your area.
I'm with you, Mud...you will never meet someone who says they LIKE the taste of moonshine...they call it rotgut for a reason.
Also, there have been many studies done to prove that copper (the main metal used in stills) is detrimental when ingested continually, especially for men. Unless you are looking to become sterile, go for it. I heard a story today that Trinidad women who found out that their men where stepping out on them would swallow a penny, have relations with their man and then do a colon cleansing to pass the coin. Within days their man's sausage was spotty and oozey...hurtin' units.
You got me all wrong Non-grapenut! I've had excellent moonshine made in a copper still. The still allows you to separate undesirable flavors and alcohols. A good distiller using good ingredients can make better liquor than you'll find in a store. Unless you know somebody personally the good stuff will be hard to come across. Not many share with strangers for obvious reasons.
Also, all the big boys use copper. It neutralizes sulfur compounds giving a cleaner taste. Same reason winemakers sometimes use copper sulfate to clean up hydrogen sulfide gas. Back to jacking...
Freeze distilling, as when jacking cider, concentrates all the various alcohols and solvents that are in a fermented beverage. In order of pure boiling points: Acetone (nail polish remover), methanol, ethyl acetate, ethanol, 2 propanol (rubbing alcohol), 1 propanol, butanol, etc. There is no way to separate those out, so you end up drinking them in a now more concentrated form. Ethanol poisoning will get you long before the others if you drink too much, but it's a short road to a sore head. For what it's worth, apple has an inordinately high amount of methanol, as do pears. You'd be better off doing this with just about anything else, except oranges.
I've never had Calvados, Tooth. Had plenty of apple shine made from cider, though and the apple jack was nothing like it. The best I could describe the apple jack was dirty apples and gym socks. And the cider it was made from was excellent.