When I was selecting alcohols for review I ensured that I picked a variety that would represent a spectrum of experience while exploring the marketplace. This particular alcohol is by far the most unique that I have tasted. Calvados is an apple or pear brandy that has been made traditionally in the Normandy region of France for hundreds of years. Much like absinthe, Calvados found some resurgence during the Great French Wine Blight that devastated the wine industry in the mid-19th century. This particular calvados is made from apples that are naturally fermented with the native yeast found in the air and the skin of the apples. Once the juice has reached 5% alcohol it is distilled, and aged in French oak barrels. As this is a fine calvados it is aged at least 2 years. With VSOP and XO, calvados are aged at least 4 and 6 years respectively. A master blender then blends the various barrels to ensure a standardized flavor for each type.
The aroma of this alcohol is strong and unique to calvados. It is a strong smell of apples with a hint of alcohol. As a former homebrewer, this smell reminds me of incomplete fermentation that is heavy with acetaldehyde. However as this is a liquor from apples, that smell is not an error.
The flavor of the calvados is equal in power with the aroma. The apple flavor is subdued in this variety but the warming sting of alcohol.
In reflection of the calvados, I am not recommending it to the general consumer. It is a unique style of brandy, that might provide an interesting taste to those looking for new horizons in the brandy arena. However a casual drinker might find its highly intense flavor too strong, and I may linger in the collection gaining dust and mystery. As one of the former, I am planning to try Calvados XO to examine the effect 4 more years of aging has on this spirit.