Calvados may have Spanish origins, but this cider-based brandy is a major point of pride to its French producers.
A family company, Spirit France is the world-leading producer of premium Calvados, specifically Calvado Boulard and Pere Magloire. Calvados is still shrouded in mystery to many consumers who haven’t yet had a chance to try this unique spirit.
The apple (and sometimes pear) based brandy originated in Normandy, France. Its roots can be traced to the sixteenth century with the first known distilling taking place in 1554.
“Calvados, dating back 500 years, is a cider-based brandy crafted from apple distillate, aging and varieties span from a minimum of two years to upward of thirty-plus years,” says Vincent Boulard, PR Director for Spirit France Group and owner of Calvados Boulard.
There are three appellations (or regions) for Calvados: Calvados (the basic appellation, making up seventy percent of all production), Calvados Domfrontais, and Calvados Pays d’Auge, “the most quality-oriented appellation,” says Boulard. Calvados Domfrontais must be made of at least thirty percent pears. This variety only makes up one percent of calvados production. The harvest for the apples and pears occurs in the fall and then the juice is pressed, fermented, passed through a still and aged in oak barrels for two years (Fine or V.S), three years (Vieux or Reserve), four years (V.O or V.S.O.P) or six years (Extra, X.O or Très Vieux). Calvados Boulard is 100% Calvados Pays d’Auge, where only twenty-three percent of all Calvados is produced.
Pierre-August Boulard founded Calvados Boulard in 1825. The company has never been in the hands of anyone outside of the family. Vincent Boulard is the fifth generation to manage the business. “Calvados Boulard belongs to the Spirit France portfolio, the world’s leading producer of premium Calvados which is comprised of authentic and luxury products. As a front-runner in the Calvados category, the group holds 40%+ of market share worldwide and 60% of market share in the United States.”
Calvados sounds Spanish because it is named for a rock off Arromanches by the Constituent Assembly in 1790. “Legend has it that this rock itself was called after a Spanish galleon with the Invincible Armada, the ‘San Salvador or ‘El Salvador, which sank as it sailed up towards the coast of England in 1588.” It is believed that the name of the boat was mistaken for “Calvador” and eventually “Calvados”. “While no archive reporting this shipwreck has been found, some old sea charts mention two ‘calva dorsa’, bald backs in Latin, corresponding to two strips of bare land on the clifftops between Port-en-Bessin and Arromanches. Navigators would take their bearings from these ‘calva dorsa’ the words being contracted to ‘Calvados’.”
Boulard says that while Calvados is a spirit that shines on its own, neat or on the rocks, it’s an extremely versatile spirit that mixes beautifully when crafting cocktails. He adds that Calvados is a welcome and delicious addition to myriad culinary recipes, savory and sweet alike.
Old Fashioned by Boulard
- 1 1/3 oz. Calvados Boulard XO
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 tsp. of Sugar Cane Syrup
- 1/2 Orange Slice
- 2 Amarena Cherries
Preparation: Add the sugar cane syrup and bitters together with a small dash of water. Stir. Add a first measure of Calvados and ice, stir. Add a second measure of Calvados and ice, stir.
Manhattan by Boulard
- 2 oz. Calvados Boulard VSOP
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 2/3 oz. Red Vermouth
- 1 Orange Zest
Preparation: In a mixing glass, put in all ingredients and stir well for 10 seconds. Pour the contents into a chilled cocktail glass and add ice.
Mojito by Boulard
- 1 1/2 oz. Calvados Boulard Grand Solage
- 1/3 oz. Sugar Cane Syrup
- 1/2 Lime
- Mint Leaves
- 2 oz. Ginger Ale
Preparation: Put sugar syrup, lime and cover with mint (to avoid crushing the lime skin, but just to extract the juice). Press without turning the pestle to avoid damaging mint. Add Calvados and 1 dash of ginger ale and stir. Top with ginger ale and add ice. Garnish with mint or lime.