Calvados is an apple and pear brandy produced in the French region of Lower Normandy. Often regarded as the world’s premier style of apple brandy, calvados is one of the few forms of brandy to be granted AOC status in France, alongside cognac and armagnac.
Calvados is a spirit that has aroma, flavour and body closer to the complexities of grape brandy rather than a fruit eau-de-vie. AOC calvados production is split into three separate appellations. AOC Pays d'Auge is highly regarded and produced from apples alone; AOC Domfrontais is produced using at least 30% pears; AOC Calvados covers the largest region and produces the majority of calvados from either apples or pears.
Fermenting apples and pears to produce cider arguably dates back to before the 7th century. In the 8th century the hand press was invented, allowing the apples and pears which were being grown in abundance in Normandy to be pressed for their juices effectively. It is at this time that cider production and the first stages of calvados production became widespread. The first known distillation was carried out by Lord de Gouberville in the 1500s.
The name Calvados supposedly originates from a ship that belonged to the Spanish Armada, El Salvador, which was sunk in 1588 off the coast of Normandy. During the French revolution this name was given to the area and in turn was passed on to the area’s local ‘eau-de-vie-de-cidre’.
Calvados as a region was recognized in 1942 and awarded AOC status in 1984, with the calvados aperitif ‘pommeau’ being awarded status in 1991, and finally the pear dominant calvados Domfront appellation in 1997. More Information on Calvados