The Père Magloire National Calvados Week, in association with UK creator Emporia Brands, returns Monday 16th October 2016 until the Sunday 22nd October 2017, taking place within bars and retailers across the UK, including London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
For some, Normandy’s lush green pastures reach their ultimate expression in the region’s famed cheeses and rich dairy butter. We all know that it’s always been about the Calvados. The magical alchemy that transforms green apples into golden nectar, it produces apple brandy as soft, fresh and pure as the beguiling French countryside from which it’s born. The week long celebration marks the harvesting of the delicious apples for the production of Calvados. During National Calvados Week over 100 bars, shops, supermarkets and independent off licenses, including London based Swift, Merchant House, Baranis, German Gymnasium and Plotting Parlour.
Other venues and highlights for the week include such Edinburgh stalwarts as Panda & Sons, Heads & Tales, Voodoo Rooms, Bramble and The Bon Vivant, as well as Glasgow based The Finnieston, Porter & Rye and Drugstore Social. 45 West in Leicester are also showcasing their serves, as well as Jekyll & Hyde in Birmingham, Alvino’s in Newcastle and Last Chance Saloon in Nottingham amongst others.
Meanwhile, participating Waitrose stores will be running an in-store price promotion for the month of October, seeing Père Magloire VSOP 50cl with 20% off. Scotland are covered by Drinkmonger and Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh, plus independent stores across England including Riddles Emporium in South Manchester, 23 Wine & Whisky in Leicester and Fenwick’s in Newcastle. We’ve also partnered with The Drink Shop, who are offering 20% off all Père Magloire products throughout National Calvados Week.
Highlights of the week involve the Telegraph Aperitifs and Digestifs evening that kicks off the celebration on Friday 13th October, TimeOut London are also hosting an evening of Père Magloire to launch the promotion within MASH London, exclusive for their members, and John Lewis on Oxford St and Soho Whisky Club, both in London, are also getting in on the action with their own tasting evenings.
In addition, Fever Tree, Franklins, Fentimans, Double Dutch and Peter Spanton No.1 Tonic are the principle sponsors for this year’s signature serve, promoted within all participating venues across the UK, the Père Magloire and tonic;
50 ml Père Magloire VS Topped with chosen Tonic Water Fresh Ice (at least 4 big cubes) Slice of Fresh Apple
Using a large wine glass or a tall, slim glass, add the ice first then pour in the Père Magloire VS, followed by the Tonic Water. Cut a full slice of apple and drop into the glass.
A promotional video has also been commissioned by Emporia Brands, the exclusive UK importer of Père Magloire and National Calvados Week, which aims to see people coming together from across the UK to enjoy Calvados. To view the video, head to http://www.nationalcalvadosweek.com/press
A third brand that I came across on my French travels a few weeks back is Lecompte, a rather small yet equally stunning range of Calvados. It’s in 1923 that Alexandre Lecompte created the Lecompte House in Lisieux, and built the brand until its sale to Yves Pellerin. Seen as the premium end of the Calvados category and essentially created for the connoisseurs, Lecompte’s distillery ‘La Morinière’ within Notre-Dame-de-Courson, offers a substantial amount of old stock, created by two traditional stills for double distillation.
But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Lecompte 12yr – 40%
Very soft upon the nose with clotted fudge and vanilla notes coming through. Light on the palate, with hints of nuts and liquorice, followed by a slight fudge flavour that smooths out a dry finish.
Lecompte 18yr – 40%
Light fudge with a slight vanilla essence on the nose. Tropical fruit flavours on the palate, honey and apple, with memories of rum. Dry banana on the long finish.
Lecompte Multi-Vintage – 40%
Aged from stock laid in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Banana and soft fudge combine on the nose, with a light, soft offering of tropical spices and banana leaf that leaves a sweet finish.
Lecompte Secret – 40%
Using blends as old as 1923, with a minimum of 42 years. Rich on the nose with plenty of apple and oak blending perfectly. Both flavours carry onto the palate, with dark cocoa, raisin and a developing spice creating a very long and dry finish.
The Lecompte Secret has a rather interesting back story to it, with the following taken from the Lecompte website;
Eighty-five years after Maison Lecompte was first established, the new owners entrusted Richard Prével, a third-generation Cellar Master, with the task of crafting the most extraordinary, the most perfect and the most complete Calvados ever made. Richard Prével spent five years blending, and composing hundreds of combinations of Lecompte’s precious eaux-de-vie. During the course of this tireless quest for perfection, he made an incredible discovery: several barrels laid down by the founder of Maison Lecompte, undisturbed since 1923. This timeless treasure, crafted from over 100 individual eaux-de-vie, provided the finishing touch to a blend which was already exceptional.
I’m very lucky to have tried this, especially with its price tag, and it truly is one of the best Calvados expressions I have had. If the price puts you off though, the younger ages can offer some great recipes instead –
50 ml Lecompte 12yr Calvados
10 ml Cherry Brandy Morand
160 ml Fresh apple juice
2 slices Fresh ginger
½ stem Fresh lemongrass
3-4 drops Fresh lime juice
In a shaker, put the Calvados with fresh ginger and lemongrass and muddle all. Add the cherry brandy, fresh apple juice and a few drops of lime juice. Shake, strain and pour over ice.
Lecompte Old School
60 ml Calvados Lecompte 12yr
20 ml Saint Germain
3 dashes Chartreuse Elixir
Pour the ingredients into a shaker and shake. Pour into a highball filled with ice and garnish with a range of apple encrusted with currant.
Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel over to France and check out a criminally underrated category of spirit here in the UK; Calvados. Originally attending to see one of the main distilleries of Calvados, I was to find out that Boulard was to be not far down the road. Having the chance to experience another distillery and their creations is always a fantastic honour, and I duly share with you what I came across. But first, a bit on the Boulard brand itself –
Boulard, or Calvados Boulard as it is written correctly, started out back in 1825 by Pierre-Auguste Boulard, and are now into their 5th generation with Vincent Boulard the current manager. With a varied range, and some of the most striking of bottle and label designs, Calvados Boulard has been one of the leading Calvados brands in the world. With not much on the way of significant history, it’s the liquid that kick-starts the talking, so below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –
Boulard XO Auguste Calvados Pays d’Auge – 40%
A blend of 6 to 15 years and named in homage to Pierre Auguste. Fresh apple with flavours of sweet fudge on the nose. Plenty of fruits on the palate, with a sharp citrus cutting through drawing out a long, bitter finish.
Boulard Extra Calvados Pays d’Auge – 40%
Soft upon the nose with a slight cocoa, vanilla and almond mix. The cocoa returns on the palate, with a candied orange and lingering tobacco leaf on the palate for a long, aromatic finish.
Also under the Boulard banner are expressions including Hors d’Age 12yr, and XO, VSOP and Grand Solage, all of which have won awards over the years. It’s these expressions that are perfect for expanding your palate towards cocktails –
45 ml Calvados Boulard V.S.O.P.
25 ml Orange Liquor
25 ml Lemon Juice
Pour the orange liqueur with lemon juice and Calvados in a shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with orange zest.
60 ml Calvados Boulard Grand Solage
1 barspoon Sugar
1 dash Orange Bitter
1 dash Old Fashioned Bitters
In an old-fashioned glass, pour the sugar and add bitters and ice. Mix for 20 seconds, add the Calvados and stir again during 15 seconds. Garnish with a slice of apple.
The 23rd July saw me travelling down to London to a rather prestigious event where some of the elite spirits would be showcased. A rather bold concept, but when you have the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2014 winners, who incidentally were announced that very morning for, in one room, it’s an honour to have been offered the invite. Organised by both the IWSC and The Worshipful Company of Distillers, the event was to the 7th annual and held within the Vintner’s Hall.
All gold winners were on display here, with a smattering of ‘Outstanding’ silver winners (197 overall), alongside brand representatives and Master Distillers, so to me it was the perfect opportunity to not only try some of the names I hear so much about, but to also experience, and ultimately compare, the liquid of a winning brand to other similar flavour profiles and categories.
As I tasted a fair few, for ease, below you will find my tasting notes covering a variety of categories –
Bourbon Barreled Big Gin – 47%
Aged 6 months in a once used Kentucky bourbon barrel. Slight wood aromas on the nose with a smooth vanilla scent following. The vanilla dominates the palate, offering a smooth yet dry finish.
Bedrock – 40%
Fresh and fruity on the nose with red berry and liquorice styles dominating. Sharp on the palate with a rather harsh kick of cinnamon creating a very long and very dry finish.
See-Gin Bodensee – 48%
A rather high kick of alcohol, with plenty of aromas including liquorice on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate, but develops with a good kick of liquorice allsorts. A little raw because of this, but produces a lingering finish.
Hernö Juniper Cask – 47%
Lively with heavy juniper on the nose, rounded off with sweet notes. A smooth start on the palate, developing a sharp citrus that creates a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Añejo – 40%
Light caramel on the nose with hints of banana coming through. Smooth, subtle flavours of dry, sun-kissed toffee creating a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Platinum – 40%
Smooth with notes of caramel and kicks of fresh wood on the nose. Very smooth with a banana flavour dominating. A long, fresh finish that’s slightly dry.
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo – 40%
Light on the nose with fragrant scents of wood and honey coming through. Again light on the palate, with hits of banana and smooth, fresh agave. A slightly sharp finish that lingers.
Milargro Special Reserve Añejo – 40%
Fresh agave on the nose creates a rather aromatic experience. A rich blend of agave and wood on the palate that’s lively, yet lingers to a dry finish.
Vieux Niesson – 45%
Light with high, aromatic notes of cocoa and spices. A slow burner on the palate, with again light, aromatic flavours of wood, spice and almonds. Long finish.
Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish – 43%
Rich apple and orange notes, with vanilla and dried fruits kicking the end. Very smooth on the palate, with the rich aromatic fruit flavours dominating, followed by delicate sweetness that produces a long finish.
Angostura 1824 – 40%
Soft notes of wood and sugar on the nose with hints of vanilla following. Very smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of fresh kicks of wood, honey and spice on the lingering finish.
Pays d’Auge 8yr – 41%
Rich apple aromas on the nose, yet becomes lighter once onto the palate. More aromatic styling, with a smooth, rather thin finish that’s surprisingly short.
4 Fundos– 42%
Very aromatic on the nose with fresh, light fruit flavours coming through. Sharp and very dry on the palate, with cereal flavours creating a long finish.
Blanton’s Gold Edition – 51.5%
Light wood on the nose with rich wheat and sweet honey combining soon after. A sharp spice start on the palate, that soon mellows into a sweet, long fudge finish.
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch – 45%
Light and aromatic on the nose with plenty of wood notes before dark caramel aromas step in. Light and thin on the palate, creating a mouth-watering flavour of caramel and wood before hitting a sharp finish.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – 66.6%
A bold hit of fruit and sweetness combined on the nose. Incredibly rich on the palate with deep kicks of caramel that creates a long finish.
New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1 – 56.5%
Fresh notes of light wood on the nose combined with sweet spice. Very rich on the palate, with an incredible sooth offering of toffee, banana, dry fruits and chocolate to create a lingering finish.
SOUTH AFRICAN WHISKY
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5yr – 43%
Smooth with a slight whisp of smoke on the nose. Light and thin on the palate, with a slight kick of vanilla and coconut before the short finish.
Gibsons Finest Rare Blended 18yr
Smooth caramelised vanilla blended with fruits appear on the nose. A rich, sharp fruity start on the palate, mellowing down to a sweet vanilla and spice combination.
English Whiskey Company Peated – 43%
Delicate peat nose with hints of green fruit coming through. Short, light peat and some kicks of fruit on the palate.
Säntis Malt Edition Snow White 2 – 48%
Light, fresh, soft fruit on the nose, turning over onto the palate too. Aromatic herbs and spices combine with white fruits to create a lingering finish.
Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant– 48%
Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.
Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12yr– 40%
Smooth, soft notes of citrus and almond on the nose. Slightly sweet on the palate, with citrus, honey and spice combining well for a short finish.
Bushmills 10yr– 40%
Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.
Bushmills 16yr – 40%
Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.
Bushmills 21yr – 40%
Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.
Teeling Vintage Reserve 30yr– 46%
Fine, light caramel notes on the nose, with rich almonds following. Sharp start on the palate, but mellows into a light malt, honey and spice blend that creates a lingering finish.
Redbreast 15yr – 46%
Aromatic ripe fruit on the nose, with a soft malt finish. Plenty of barley and vanilla on the palate creating a rich and slightly sweet finish.
Grant’s Voyager – 40%
Rich on the nose with smooth cereal notes and ripe fruit. A combination of honey, fruit and chocolate dominates the palate, creating a rich, sweet lingering finish.
Ballantine’s Limited Deluxe Blend – 43%
Ripe berry and barley blend on the nose, with hints of citrus cutting through. A sharp start on the palate with vanilla countering the citrus for a long finish.
Grant’s Deluxe 18yr – 40%
A lively cereal nose with a good blend of toffee and honey. A light offering on the palate with toffee and ginger, mixing with hints of spice on the short finish.
Glenmorangie Signet – 48%
Light notes of toffee, fudge, chocolate and cinnamon blending together on the nose. A developing sharpness to a ripe malt kick, which mellows towards the short, rich finish of stoned fruit.
Glenmorangie 18yr– 43%
Light on the nose with citrus and fresh white fruit dominating. A developing kick of spice on the palate, followed by a dry, fruity finish.
Glenglassaugh 30yr – 44.8%
Smooth, dried fruits on the nose, followed by a light offering of raisin on the palate. A good kick of malt and spice on the finish with hints of tobacco.
Glenglassaugh 40yr – 42.5%
Rich chocolate and toffee notes on the nose. Burnt wood blends with nutmeg to create a long, rich, deep offering.
The Dalmore 25yr– 42%
Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of dried fruits and citrus. Soft, smooth oak that warms flavours of chocolate and toffee into rich offerings.
Glenmorangie 25yr – 43%
Light cereal notes combined with coffee and dried fruits on the nose. A slight citrus kick on the palate with honey, subtle spice and oak flavours creating a long finish.
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%
Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.
Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside– 43%
Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.
Some absolute crackers available, despite missing out on the likes of vodka, cognac and brandy, fruit spirits, shochu and armagnac as well as the names I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing (Elmer T. Lee, Southwestern Distillers, The King’s Ginger, Mozart Gold and Col E. H. Taylor Jr the stand out missing expressions from the above list).
One expression that has truly surprised me was the New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1, coming in at a hefty 56.5% and hailing from Australia. This whisky has dominated my conversations of the event to anyone who will listen to me! One that I will be sourcing as soon as possible so I can enjoy a country that granted, you wouldn’t expect to get a good spirit from, especially compared to their wines, but have raised their output considerably and most importantly, winning a gold medal that highlights their work and effort.
Congratulations to them, and to the rest of the winners!
National Calvados Week! What I hear you cry? Calvados? Well if your anything like the North of England, Calvados isn’t a big market compared to some of the other categories in the spirits world, but it is in London, and to help spread the word, a whole week dedicated to Calvados has been created.
To give you the heads up on all the events that are taking place over the UK, it’s probably best to look into Calvados itself, and see if it’s worthy of a dedication –
Calvados is an apple brandy, predominantly from the French region of Lower Normandy. The first known Norman distillation was carried out by “Lord” de Gouberville in 1554, and the guild for cider distillation was created about 50 years later in 1606. In the 17th century the traditional cider farms expanded but taxation and prohibition of cider brandies were enforced elsewhere than Brittany, Maine and Normandy. The area called “Calvados” was created after the French Revolution, but “eau de vie de cidre” was already called “calvados” in common usage. In the 19th century output increased with industrial distillation and the working class fashion for “Café-calva”. When a phylloxera outbreak in the last quarter of the 19th century devastated the vineyards of France and Europe, calvados experienced a “golden age”. During World War I cider brandy was requisitioned for use in armaments due to its alcohol content. The appellation contrôlée regulations officially gave Calvados a protected name in 1942, and after the war, many cider-houses and distilleries were reconstructed, mainly in the Pays d’Auge. The Calvados appellation system was revised in 1984 and 1996. Pommeau got its recognition in 1991; in 1997 an appellation for Domfront with 30% pears was created.
So it seems to be a rather significant part of the spirit history, but how is it created?
Apples selected for distillation into Calvados fall into over 200 specially-grown varieties. Several varieties may be used into one brand of Calvados, ranging from very sweet apples, to tart and bitter, at various proportions. The fruit is harvested usually by hand from mid-October into December and pressed into a juice that is subsequently fermented into a dry cider. This dry cider is then distilled into an eau-de-vie, which is in turn blended and matured for a minimum of two-years in oak barrels. The longer the maturation, the more mellow the final product. Usually the maturation for Calvados goes on for several years.
The label may contain one of the following terms with reference to the age:
‘Fine’, ‘Trois étoiles ‘, ‘Trois pommes’ for a Calvados matured for at least 2 years.
‘Vieux’ – ‘Réserve’ is at least 3 years old.
‘V.O.’ ‘VO’, ‘Vieille Réserve’, ‘V.S.O.P.’ ‘VSOP’ – at least 4 years old.
‘Extra’, ‘X.O.’ ‘XO’, ‘Napoléon’, ‘Hors d’Age’ is at least 6 years old.
Calvados is sold much older, typically at 6, 8, 12, 15 or 25 years.
Calvados is governed by an ‘appellation contrôlée’ system, which defines the regions where Calvados can be produced; the varieties of apples used; the type of pressing and fermentation; and the distillation and the maturation. There are three Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée for Calvados ; the basic ‘AOC Calvados’ accounts for over 70 percent of the total production, prescribes a minimum of two years ageing in oak barrels and distillation in single column stills.
The ‘AOC Calvados Pays d’Auge’ is the highest quality appellation, that includes all basic rules for AOC Calvados along with several additional requirements, among others a minimum of six weeks fermentation of the cider and double distillation in an alembic still. Finally, ‘AOC Calvados Domfrontais’, a much fruitier and subtler style which is made of at least 30% pears. The appellation was created in 1997 in order to accommodate the long tradition of pear orchards in the region.
One brand that i’ve know of for a while now is Calvados Père Magloire. Established back in 1821 by Debrise-Dulac, he made Père Magloire brand the most important Calvados brand in France by 1900. By 1968, Debrise-Dulac was taken over by Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, who contributed to the export development of the brand until 1998 when the independent Norman family group, Pays d’Auge Finances, took over. In 2005, Père Magloire maintained its position as the market leader brand of Calvados both in France and throughout the world, accounting for 70% of the export sales.
But how does Père Magloire fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Père Magloire VS – 40%
Sparkling apple on the nose with a slightly stewed aroma coming through. Sharp upon the palate, with a rich, natural sweetness of apple and floral fruits combining well. Bold, fresh and long on the finish.
Père Magloire VSOP – 40%
A minimum of 4 years old. Heavy apple aroma on the nose with a crisp, fresh flavour bursting on the palate. Well rounded.
Père Magloire XO – 40%
Minimum of 9 years old. Caramel and fudge aromas on the nose with a light, mellow apple scent. Sharp on the palate though with a strong apple kick, pepper and dry spice, moving to a citrus finish that lingers on the tongue.
Père Magloire 20yr – 40%
Blends of between 20 and 25 years. Fresh tobacco on the nose with candied apple, butter and soft wood aromas combining. The tobacco follows onto the palate, alongside cinnamon and crisp apple. Results in a dry finish.
Calvados is the basis of the tradition of le trou Normand, or “the Norman hole”. This is a small drink of Calvados taken between courses in a very long meal, sometimes with apple sorbet, supposedly to re-awaken the appetite. Or maybe just have one of these –
15 ml Fine Calvados Père Magloire
Top with Tonic Water
Build the ingredients into an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
If you are adventurous, National Calvados Week will give you a great insight into what is quite frankly sometimes a forgotten spirit. I’m not a cider fan, but Calvados? I could get use to it. Enjoy.
From 14th to 20th October, Britain is going Calvados Crazy!
Bars, restaurants, wine merchants and supermarkets will all be offering a taste of the spirit of Normandy. There will be competitions, prizes, tastings, cocktail presentations, and cookery recipes all using the magical Spirit of Normandy – Calvados!
First of all what is Calvados?
Calvados is a brandy made solely from cider apples grown in Normandy. Everything begins in the orchard where the apples are picked, crushed and the juice is made into cider. Then it’s the turn of the distiller to take over and transform cider into the unique Spirit of Normandy called Calvados. The cider is distilled (sometimes twice) in traditional pot or column stills and then the spirit is aged in oak barrels. Interaction between the wood of the barrels and the air turns the spirit into a smooth, complex and delightful brandy, with the unique taste of apples that can be sipped on its own or made into long drinks, cocktails or in cooking: Calvados is fantastic for gravy or sauces with pork, for making apple cake and desserts like the famous ‘Tarte Tatin’ and for accompanying soft Normandy cheese.
Quick & Easy Cocktails to make at home:
50ml Calvados poured over ice cubes.
Top up with cloudy apple juice and garnish with apple slice.