Summer’s ready and it’s time for yet another Master Quill Week! This time we’ll look into something I have ignored for a long time: Calvados. Distillates from grains, yes, distillates from grapes, why not, but distillates from apples and pears, well, let’s say I didn’t have time to come to that yet. Apples and pears, really? This is my first review of Calvados on these pages, and as I said, I haven’t tried a lot of Calvados yet, so I don’t have much experience determining what is good and what is not-so-good in the world of Calvados. This week will be as much a learning experience for me as it may be for you. If you are only into (Single Malt) Whisk(e)y or Rum and dont want to dilate your mind, you’ll probably want to skip this coming week, please feel free, but since you’ve already read this much of my introduction, why not stay around some more and see if even you can’t be surprised, with something completely different, and see for once and for all if Calvados is something worth your attention, or something you should forget about for all of eternity or maybe longer.
We’ll start off this week with a look at where Calvados is made. Calvados is an Apple Brandy from Normandy, France. If you have lost your bearings, the largest cities of Normandy are: Rouen, Caen, Le Havre and Cherbourg. Calvados is a department in Basse-Normandie (or Lower-Normandy).
There are three AOC’s of Calvados:
- AOC Calvados, in 1942 these regions were divided into regulated regions across Normandy and even from some neighboring departments. However, these regions were grouped together in 1984. Mostly only apples are used and single distillation in a column still is done, but that is not a requirement.
- AOC Pays d’Auge, established in 1942. Predominantly and often exclusively from apples. This Calvados is required to be distilled twice in an alembic pot still.
- AOC Domfrontais, established in 1997. At least 30% pears must be used in the distillate, but often this number is much higher. Single Distillation is done in a column still.
Color: Full gold.
Nose: Apples and yeast. Very nice fruity acidity. Fresh and fruity. Nice ripe yellow, red apples. Very obviously a distillate from apples. All the fruity apple aroma are upfront, and the distillate needs a lot of air to show us more. Alcohol does the trick here. It acts like a mode of transport. Sour beer, like Rodenbach, although that one isn’t made with apples. Hints of (old) wood, and some new oak as well.
Taste: Very light. Seems much lower in alcohol, than it actually is. Apples and vanilla. Altogether soft. Apples, waxy apple skins, warm apple compote and sugar. Toffee. Not very complex. I almost want to add some cinnamon to this. There is some acidity in the finish, but not the fruity acidity that was so upfront, but more the sourness you sometimes get from (new) oak.
I have to say I didn’t expect much from Calvados. How can you make a decent distillate from apples? By thinking that, I never bothered to try even one. Untill now.
So this was my first review of a Calvados on these pages and there is no better way than to start with this entry-level Calvados Fine, by Château de Breuil from the AOC Pays d’Auge. At 2 years old, it is a very young and un-complex distillate. In part nicely fruity and almost summery, but it also seriously lacks the depth I love in more aged distillates. The score is how I feel about it, but keep in mind I haven’t tried a lot of Calvados just yet.