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Xo Calvados

Calvados, the renowned apple and pear brandy hailing from the picturesque Normandy region in northern France, has a storied history that dates back centuries. Over time, Calvados has evolved, with different classifications marking its age and quality. One of the most prestigious classifications within this spirit's hierarchy is the XO, or "Extra Old," which signifies a Calvados aged for a minimum of six years, although many XO Calvados expressions have been aged much longer. The history of Calvados intertwines with the rich agricultural heritage of Normandy. Distillation of apple brandy in the region can be traced back to the 8th century. However, it was in the late 16th century that the process became more refined, with distillers emphasising the quality of apples and the intricacies of the distillation process. Calvados gained prominence in the 19th century, especially after the phylloxera crisis devastated French vineyards, leading to a shift from grape to apple brandy production.

The production of Calvados is an art, combining tradition with meticulous attention to detail. It starts with the selection of specific apple and pear varieties, over 200 types in total, each contributing its unique flavour profile. After harvesting, the fruit undergoes fermentation, turning into a cider with an alcohol content of 4-6%. This cider is then distilled. In the case of premium Calvados, double distillation in copper pot stills is preferred, yielding a purer, more refined spirit.

Aging is crucial to XO Calvados. The spirit matures in oak barrels, often previously used for sherry or port, which imbues the Calvados with depth, complexity, and a rich amber hue. Over the years, the spirit undergoes both evaporative losses (the "angel's share") and flavour concentration, resulting in a Calvados with pronounced notes of baked apples, dried fruits, vanilla, and a hint of wood spice.

Standout Brands: Within the XO Calvados category, several brands have distinguished themselves with exceptional craftsmanship:

Domaine Dupont: Renowned for its organic orchards and meticulous ageing process, Dupont's XO offering boasts a harmonious blend of fruitiness and aged character.

Château du Breuil: Their 15-year-old XO expression, aged in seasoned oak casks, offers a tantalising mix of apple tartness and mellowed wood notes.

Boulard: One of the most recognized names in the Calvados world, Boulard's Grand Solage XO is a testament to their dedication to quality, with its elegant, lingering finish.

Père Magloire: With its 20-year ageing process, the Père Magloire XO is a rich tapestry of flavours, from ripe orchard fruits to subtle hints of tobacco and cocoa.

In conclusion, XO Calvados represents the pinnacle of apple brandy craftsmanship. A sip of this aged spirit is a journey through time, tradition, and the lush orchards of Normandy.

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