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Calvados

The Calvados region is located in Basse-Normandie (Lowe Normandy), where apple cider was brewed perhaps as early as the 8th century and, today, Calvados is one of France’s best loved brandies, though unlike the grape brandies Cognac and Armagnac, Calvados is distilled from cider.

Whilst the popularity of French apple brandy grew, taxation and prohibition more or less contained it within the Calvados area, and after the French Revolution when the area was properly identified, the term Calvados was already in common usage when referring to apple brandy. The phylloxera outbreak during the 19th century ruined so many vineyards that Calvados experienced a boom of popularity – it being unaffected by the pest.

Calvados is a very popular digestif, and in France it is enjoyed as part of a “café-calva” – a hot coffee served with a glass of Calvados.

Calvados is distilled from a number of different apple varieties (over 200 are legally permitted), and it is not uncommon for there to be over 100 different varieties used to make a single Calvados. A combination of sweet, tart and inedible bitter apples are used to attain the right balance of flavour.

The apples are usually picked by hand, and are pressed and fermented to make cider. This is then distilled; either twice in a traditional Alembic, or singly in a continuous column still. The former still produces complex, well-ageing Calvados and the latter accounts for fresh, tangy, approachable Calvados.

The spirit is aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks, though it is not unusual for it to be aged for substantially longer – often decades.

Did you know?... ...Calvados is often enjoyed as part of “le trou Normand”, in which a small glass of Calvados is taken between courses in a meal, often with sorbet, as a palate cleanser.

Calvados

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The entry-level Calvados from well-known producer, Pâpidoux. Refreshing and juicy, though not without depth of spicy, oak-y qualities. A wonderful alternative disgestif if you're looking for a change...  More info
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Château du Breuil guard the secrets to this, their top of the range Calvados, very closely. We're told that it's very old, and that the blend is painstakingly crafted with great skill by the Cellar...  More info
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After seven years of crafting, Boulard finally settled on the recipe for their Boulard Extra, made with a selection of very old and elegant Calvados. It was certainly worth the time, as this supremely...  More info
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Calvados makes for an excellent alternative to after-dinner whiskies or Cognac, and this 20 year old expression from Pacory would certainly round off a fine meal perfectly.  More info
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A well aged expression from Calvados producers Le Clos d'Orval. This Calvados has been matured in oak casks for 18 long years, developing exceptional, refined notes throughout. They've done those...  More info
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Domfront, at the south of Calvados, is home to the Lemorton family. They create their elegant, fruity Calvados with a blend of 70% pears and 30% apples. They age the cider in oak for almost a year...  More info
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15 year old Calvados, bottled by Alchemist. This is produced at Domaine Christian Drouin, a Calvados producer of legendary esteem.  More info
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