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Hors D'âge Calvados

Hors d'âge Calvados is a distinguished and aged expression of Calvados, the renowned apple (and sometimes pear) brandy from the Normandy region of France. The designation "Hors d'âge," meaning "beyond age," is reserved for Calvados that has been aged in oak barrels for significantly longer than the standard varieties, typically well over a decade. This extensive ageing process places Hors d'âge Calvados in the upper echelons of quality and complexity, akin to the finest aged spirits in the world.

Calvados production begins with the fermentation of apple (and occasionally pear) juice into cider. This cider, ranging from sweet to bitter, is then distilled into eau-de-vie. The type of apples and the blend of sweet and bitter varieties are crucial, as they define the character and flavour profile of the Calvados. The distillation process in Calvados can vary, with some producers using a single column still distillation, while others opt for a double distillation in pot stills, akin to the methods used in Cognac production.

Once distilled, the young eau-de-vie is transferred to oak barrels for maturation. It is during this ageing period that Hors d'âge Calvados truly comes into its own. The interaction between the eau-de-vie and the oak barrels is a dance of chemistry and time. The oak imparts a rich array of flavours to the Calvados – from vanilla and caramel to complex spice notes and hints of dried fruits. The tannins in the wood also mellow the spirit, smoothing out any harsh edges and contributing to a rounded, full-bodied mouthfeel.

Over the years, as the Calvados matures, it undergoes an evaporation process known as the "angels' share," which concentrates its flavours and aromas. This natural reduction intensifies the Calvados, resulting in a spirit with a depth and complexity that is unmatched by younger variants.

Hors d'âge Calvados is a spirit of sophistication and subtlety. It is often enjoyed neat, at room temperature, to fully appreciate the intricate layers of flavour and aroma that have developed over time. The experience of sipping Hors d'âge Calvados is one of savouring – each sip reveals new notes and nuances, making it a favourite among connoisseurs and those who appreciate the finer things in life.

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