All about Calvados: The French Apple Brandy

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All about Calvados: The French Apple Brandy


Calvados is a French apple brandy made from apples grown in the Normandy region of France. The apples are fermented and then distilled to create a robust and smooth spirit that is perfect for sipping on its own or for use in cocktails. Calvados has a long history dating back to the 16th century and is still widely enjoyed today.

This article will have a detailed look into the characteristics of this delicious treat for curious readers to learn all there is to know. Hang on to your hats and continue reading.

What is Calvados?

What is Calvados

Calvados is a type of French apple brandy made from apples grown in the Normandy region of France. The apples are firstly distilled into a cider, and then the cider is filtered again to produce the final product.




Definition: A French apple brandy, typically distilled in the Normandy region.

The Norman Calvados region is located northwest of the country, and the drink gets its name from the French department of Calvados. The calvados region is known for its apples, and the brandy is made from a blend of different apple varieties. The apples are first pressed into apple cider, and then the cider is fermented and distilled into brandy. The finished product is typically aged in oak barrels for at least two years.

Calvados has a strong apple flavor with a hint of vanilla and spice. It is typically amber in color and is often used as a digestive or an ingredient in cocktails. It isn’t the same as your regular ginger ale or beer, but it does the job well at livening up your evenings.

The History of Calvados

The drink is made from apples grown in the Normandy region and then distilled into a spirit. The name “Calvados” comes from the French word for the Norman city of Caen.

Calvados apple brandy has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages. The drink was initially used as a medicinal tonic, and it was not until the 16th century that it began to be produced on a large scale. Since then, Calvados has become a staple of French culture, and it is now enjoyed all over the world.

How is Calvados made?

Calvados brandy is a type of apple brandy made using a particular kind of apple known as the Calvados apple, a variety of bittersweet apples.

The Calvados apple is harvested in the fall and stored in barrels until the following spring. Once the weather warms up, the apples are crushed, and the juice is fermented. This fermented apple juice is then distilled and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

The final product is a smooth, rich brandy with a strong apple flavor. Calvados is often enjoyed on their own or used in cocktails.


How is Calvados aged?

Calvados is a French apple brandy made from cider apples that are first fermented and then distilled. Once the cider brandy has been refined, it is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

During the aging process, Calvados develops their unique flavor profile. The drink is often described as having notes of apple, pear, and spice. The aging process also imparts a golden hue to the glass.

So, how is Calvados aged? The drink is typically aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, and this time in the barrel helps to develop the unique flavor profile of the glass.

There are three main types of Calvados: delicate, reserve, and vintage. Fine Calvados is made from a blend of different apple varieties and is typically aged for two to three years. Reserve Calvados is made from a single type of apple and is aged for four to six years. Vintage Calvados is made from a single variety of apples and is aged for seven years or more.

Unlike sour beer, Calvados is a complex spirit with a varied range of flavors, and it can be sweet or dry, and its flavor profile can vary depending on the type of apple used and the length of time it is aged.

What does Calvados taste like?

The taste of Calvados can vary depending on the type of apples used and the aging process, but it is typically described as being sweet and slightly fruity with a smooth, brandy-like finish.

Calvados has a sweet, fruity flavor with a hint of oak from the aged barrels. It can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into a cocktail like dry vermouth.

Calvados Vs. Cognac

Regarding premium French spirits, there are two that always come to mind – Calvados and cognac. Both are excellent options for after-dinner drinks or for sipping neat. But what’s the difference between these two spirits?

Calvados is made from apples, while cognac is made from grapes, and this means that Calvados has a slightly fruity flavor while cognac is somewhat sweet. Both spirits are aged in oak barrels, but Calvados is typically aged for longer, resulting in a deeper, more complex flavor.

Both are made from distilled wine but differ in several ways. Calvados is made from apples, while cognac is made from grapes. Cognac is also aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, while Calvados is aged for three years.

As for the price, Calvados and cognac are both relatively expensive. However, Calvados is typically the cheaper of the two.

So, which one should you choose? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

How to serve Calvados

Calvados French apple brandy is perfect for sipping after a meal or using cocktails. If you’ve never had Calvados, you’re in for a treat. This spirit is smooth and flavorful, with a subtle sweetness that makes it very easy to drink.

If you’re looking to serve Calvados at your next gathering, follow these steps:

  • Choose the right Calvados.

There are many different types of Calvados, so it’s crucial to pick one that will suit your taste. If you like sweeter spirits, go for a Calvados that is aged for a shorter period. If you prefer a more intense flavor, choose a Calvados that has been aged for a more extended period.

  • Serve Calvados neat or on the rocks.

Calvados is best enjoyed when it is served neat or on the rocks. If you are doing Calvados to a group of people, be sure to have plenty of ice on hand so everyone can enjoy their drink at their own pace.

  • Garnish with an apple slice

To add a bit of sweetness and flair to your drink, garnish each glass with an apple slice. This will also help keep the Calvados from getting too strong as it warms up in the glass.

For the enthusiasts, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to serve Calvados so that you can impress your guests.

Here is what you will need:

  • A bottle of Calvados
  • A snifter or small glass
  • A coaster

Step 1: Place the coaster on the table.

Step 2: Open the bottle of Calvados and pour a small amount (approximately 1 ounce) into the snifter.

Step 3: Hold the snifter in one hand and the bottle in the other. Swirl the Calvados around in the snifter and take a small sip. Swirling the Calvados will help release the flavors.

Step 4: Once you have taken a sip, offer your guests the bottle of Calvados so they can serve themselves.

We hope that this guide has helped you learn how to serve Calvados. Bon appetite!

Pairing Calvados

Pairing calvados with food can be tricky as it is such a strong drink. But there are a few general guidelines you can follow. For example, Calvados pairs well with rich and fatty dishes, such as roasted meats or cheeses. It also goes well with sweet desserts, such as apple pie or crème brûlée.

Of course, there are many other possible pairings for Calvados. It all depends on your taste.

When it comes to pairing Calvados, there are many different options. Here are just a few of the most popular choices:

Apples: Obviously, apples are a great choice to pair with Calvados. You can try different apples to see which ones you like best.

Cheese: Calvados goes well with many types of cheese, including hard cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar and softer cheeses like Brie.

Chocolate: Chocolate and Calvados is a classic flavor combination. Try pairing them with dark chocolate for the best results.

Cigars: Calvados is often enjoyed after a meal with a cigar. Choose a milder cigar, so it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavors of the Calvados.

Final Word

To recap: Calvados is a type of apple brandy that originates from the Normandy region of France. It is made from a blend of different apples, including the bitter-tasting crab apple. Calvados is typically aged for at least two years in oak barrels, which gives them a distinctively smooth taste.

We hope this article helped you learn all about this delicious treat and now you won’t be standing perplexed in the grocery aisle. Cheers!

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!