Calvados is a delicious apple brandy that hails from the Normandy region of France. It’s made from fermented apple cider and then distilled and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years. The result is a smooth and complex spirit with a rich apple flavor and notes of vanilla, spice, and oak.
There are many different brands of calvados available on the market, ranging from small-batch artisanal producers to large commercial distilleries. Each brand has its own unique flavor profile and aging process, making it difficult to determine which one is the “best.” However, with a little bit of research and tasting, it’s possible to find a calvados that suits your taste preferences and budget. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best calvados brands on the market and what makes them stand out.
Pierre-Auguste Boulard began making calvados in 1825. The distillery remains in its family, passed from one generation to the next. Boulard understands the value of doing one thing exceptionally and limits its output to calvados. Boulard makes four calvados, each featuring sweet vanilla and toffee flavors.
Pierre Groult caught the brandy bug in 1860. He began distilling award-winning calvados, developing methods he passed on to his son. Pierre's son, Leon, further advanced the brand by planting orchards, allowing the Groult company to harvest its own apples. The Groult family maintains control of the distillery, honoring ancestral tradition while modernizing production methods. Roger Groult makes 14 calvados. The spirit tastes nutty, with fruit, caramel, and vanilla undertones.
Pere Magloire revolutionized calvados's production. The company began distilling brandy in 1821. During its storied history, the distillery became one of the first brands registered with the National Intellectual Property Institute. The company pioneered new advertisement methods while making some of the world's best calvados. The distillers make nine calvados. Each brandy captures fruit flavors with warm cinnamon notes.
Berneroy produces its calvados in copper stills, allowing the spirit to age for approximately four weeks. The distillers ferment via spontaneous fermentation. This method relies exclusively on the natural yeast present on the apples' skin. Berneroy then moves the brandy to seasoned oak barrels, where the calvados ages for four years. The resulting alcohol tastes strongly of apples, with cherry and pear undertones.
Maison Lecompte began making elegant and delicious calvados in 1923. Alexandre Lecompte gave up his career as a wine and spirits salesman to develop the distilling method that shot the brand to success. Lecompte prioritizes quality over speed. The brand double distills every batch of calvados, aging the spirit in small casks. Lecompte makes 13 calvados, each complimenting the apple flavor with a robust, oaky taste.
The Dupont family only recently dedicated its estate to calvados production, despite a long history in the Pays d'Auge region of France. The Dupont clan grows high-quality apples on its 74-acre estate. Determined to distill the best calvados, the company employs an oenologist to ensure a successful brandy. Domaine Dupont makes 22 calvados, supplementing the strong apple flavor with hints of pear, vanilla, and citrus.
The Chateau du Breuil is a beautiful 400-year-old castle located in Normandy, France. The vast estate has ample room for the many trees the distillery needs to grow its apples. Chateau du Breuil's calvados has won myriad awards by honoring tradition while striving for advancement. The distillery uses technology to refine the classic methodology. The company makes 20 calvados. The spirit is light and smooth, with plenty of mild apple flavor.
In 1820, Ernest Busnel partnered with Madame Quetel to distill delicious calvados on Pont l’Eveque farm. Ernest's son, Georges, married Quetel's niece, Lucie, making the distillery a true family business. Busnel's commitment to quality and hands-on methodology helped the distillery stand the test of time. The company is the oldest major producer of calvados. The distillery makes 18 calvados and several calvados-inspired concoctions. The brandy chases the apple flavor with almond, vanilla, and just a hint of licorice.
Christian Drouin decided to use his apple orchard to distill calvados in 1960. Christian inspired a lasting love of the brandy in his family. The distillery remains family-run. The family understands that the apples are the most crucial part of good calvados. The Drouins tend their organic orchard with great care. Christian Drouin makes five calvados. The brandy is bright and crisp, full of apple taste supplemented with pear and white pepper.
Morin is one of the original calvados producers. The distillery traces its lineage back to 1889, when Pierre Morin began producing the brandy. Morin's care and attention to process make it one of the most celebrated calvados distilleries globally. The company never rushes the process, allowing the brandy as much time as necessary to age into its best form. Morin makes calvados of various ages. Each brandy contains a slight sweetness, lending every sip a caramel apple flavor.