It was in Normandy, a region known for its savoir-faire, that Calvados was invented nearly 500 years ago. Calvados is a French brandy (40% proof) created from apples. More than 120 different varieties are used in its production. They are divided into four categories: sweet, bitter-sweet, bitter and acidulous. After being picked, the apples undergo a selection process to make sure that first the cider and then the ensuing brandy are of the highest quality. Distillation is achieved either through two successive heating processes using two-stage copper stills, which is known as double distillation, or the continuous heating method, known as single distillation. The brandy thus obtained is then aged over several years in barrels made of French oak. In fact the richness of the flavours of Calvados comes precisely from this constant exchange between the brandy, the wood and the air in the cellars. The final step involves the Cellar Master blending Calvados of different ages and different terroirs and regularly tasting them to monitor their evolution in order to obtain an end product of the highest quality which remains true to its origins.
Thus we can distinguish between several grades of Calvados depending on the length of time over which they have been matured:
single and continuous distillation – aged for a minimum of two years
double distillation – aged for a minimum of two years
double distillation - aged for a minimum of four years
double distillation - aged for a minimum of six years
this relates to the age of the youngest brandy included in the blend
unblended - matured since the year indicated on the label.
Finally there exist other, older grades but these are best tasted alone, preferably decanted into a carafe.
There are also other apple-based alcoholic drinks which can be used to make cocktails
made by fermenting apple juice (2 to 8% proof)
an aperitif created by blending unfermented apple juice (2/3) and Calvados (1/3). This is then aged in wooden barrels giving it its amber colour.