An Exceptional Calvados that is a wonderful winter dram and also an exceptional ingredient for a special cocktail.
Notes: Chateau du Breuil is a relative newcomer to Calvados having been established in 1954. Located in Breuil en Auge, a small town in the Normandy area in the heart of the Calvados region. This region is also noted for its cheeses, butter, cider, and Pommeau.
Located on the grounds of the national landmark Chateau du Breuil, the distillery itself was originally a cheese factory and the aging warehouse was the stable and carriage house ( a very large one) with some breathtaking architecture ( Hint; it looks like the timberwork of the hull of a wooden ship – since most of the carpenters in the area built ships nearby they carried over a tried and true layout which is breathtaking) .
It should be noted that Chateau du Breuil produces only Pays D’Auge Calvados which is from a very small and specific area of the Calvados region – roughly the equivalent of the Grande Champagne designation for the finest growth areas in Cognac. Many of the apples used by them are grown in their own orchards and the rest they source from other local growers under contract within this strictly delineated area.
The harvest, preparation, fermentation, and distillation are of interest in how they are accomplished and some of the details are here:
Fermentation will yield a fermented ( hard) cider of about 5% after fermentation. This cider is distilled twice, once a stripping run, then again for a final distillation where the cuts are made and the heart of the distillation is carefully transferred to oak casks for aging. Proof at this point is usually 140 to 144 proof , somewhat higher than bourbon or cognac but still retaining a lot of flavor. At Chateau du Breuil they use a classic copper alembic still from Prudhoe, who is essentially the Vendome of France ( for all you bourbon enthusiasts who love Vendome).
The distillation process takes place between the beginning of winter and June 30th of the following year. The steps and procedures are roughly similar to Cognac harvest and distillation guidelines (also strictly spelled out)
To make one liter of Calvados 100% pure alcohol, about 27 kg ( approx 60 LBs ) apples or 20 liters ( approx 5.28 gallons) of 5% alcohol by volume cider are necessary.
Appearance: Clear as a bell, bright copper-gold, a delight to the eye.Slightly viscous, on swirling leaves a gentle enrollment on the glass with legs forming and sliding down.
First Impression: Champagne-like crispness with fatter cider notes rounding out a complex and subtle bouquet
Taste: Creamy slightly fatty entry with delicious woodiness from the oak aging without the char or tiredness that extended aging in the wrong wood or wrong barrels can bring on. Subtle spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon notes with a pleasing long afterglow of a finish.
A very complex Calvados with an unmatched subtlety that truly shines.
Drinks: Makes an exceptional cocktail with the right ingredients. Please check website for some excellent cocktail ideas from a master mixologist.
Bottle: This expression of their Calvados comes in a very tastefully designed cardboard presentation box with great graphics and raised lettering and a nice backstory on the distillery and the calvados you just bought or received as a gift.
The bottle itself is stabilized by a square of dense foam at the top. This serves two purposes, it stabilizes and protects the neck and top of the bottle, and secondly keeps the hand-dipped gold wax and cord that seals the bottle intact without getting damaged by improper handling. The bottle itself shows a lot of care and consideration; made in the classic calvados shaped bottle with a long swan type neck with slight flaring above the pommel shoulder to give a better grip the rounded shoulder has a ridged flare at the bottom for a slightly wider and more durable bottom with a good punt to it. This results in a good heft and balance to the bottle overall and feelings of tradition, quality, and thoughtfulness to the design overall. The label is tasteful, high-quality printing values, and easy to read. The back label is informative, easy to read, and has a website address along with QR code to look it up. The seal is beautiful with a hand-wound and tied cor and a refreshingly easy to open gold wax seal that is opened by pulling the cord across the slotted top natural cork closure ( no having to resort to sharp objects and chipping away wax and risking an ER visit with this bottle). An imprimatur seal is hand-stamped XO (For Extra Old) on the shoulder of the bottle much like a (much more ) expensive bottle of Cognac. Overall a lovely package to hold and even better calvados. Distinctive at a distance it looks nice on your home bar or on a shelf for your customers to see, it stands out.
Other: The distillery and the grounds are a must-see if you are anywhere near the Normandy area. The Multimedia show is spectacular and the Calvados is too!
Final Thoughts: A remarkable achievement embodying the distillers, cellarmasters, and blenders art to bring a bottle like this to your table or bar. The price for a bottle of this 20 year old brandy is amazing compared to any other 20 year old spirit of any type and is a must-have for anyone who enjoys quality spirits