Distilled cider is a long established tradition.
The first official written references date from the 16th century, long before it took the name of Calvados. On 28th March 1553, a member of the local gentry from the Cotentin peninsular - the Sire of Gouberville - described the distillation of cider with a view to obtaining a drinkable apple spirit in his diaries. It was also during this time in the 16th century that a cider distillers co-operative was formed, this organisation later became an official body.
The traditional double distillation still is required to make AOC “Calvados Pays d'Auge”.
2 successive “chauffes” or heatings are used for this distillation process.
First distillation : This is carried out using cider and produces vapours which are condensed down to form the “brouillis” or “petites eaux”, containing 28-30% alcohol. Care is taken to remove the “heads and tails” as they contain compounds that are not desirable in the final Calvados.
Second distillation : This describes the distillation of the “brouillis” or “petites eaux”. It is the final distillation during which the “heads and tails” are once again removed.In order to comply with the strict Calvados requirements the alcohol content resulting from this distillation must not exceed 72%. Its bouquet intensifies and its colour changes from golden to deeper and deeper shades of amber.
The Cellar Master then gathers Calvados of different ages and origins and composes his blends in the same way that a florist creates a bouquet of flowers. He samples them regularly to check their fruition so that the end product is of the finest quality and suitably in harmony with its origins.