Several years ago I participated in a Calvados bottle-share from one of my then-booze-sharing-buddies. The group I was part of has long since died out, most likely because of overstimulation.
I like Calvados. I generally like brandy in many ways, but I think Calvados is my favorite style. With it being from Normandy it’s quite close to an English style drink, and I’m honestly quite surprised that the UK doesn’t really have a “Whatever Calvados from the UK would be called” industry. I know that especially the south west of the UK has a massive apple and cider industry, and the interest is there.
When we decided to holiday in Bretagne some years ago I was planning to visit some Calvados distilleries myself. Apparently, Normandy is pretty big and it was a two hour drive to get to the right area, and with two infants (then 1 and 3) that didn’t come across as a viable option.
Anyway, someone from that sharing group went to Normandy. He brought back a load of Calvados and shared it. I participated, and there were some seriously old vintages in there.
Let’s dive right in, since I don’t have any interesting stuff about the brand that I don’t google myself.
Marquis de la Pomme 20 years old, 42%, btld. 2016
Robust with quite a lot of oak. Planks, shavings of old wood. There’s a clear apple forward distillate, with lots of fruity sweetness. Some bitterness, copper and minerals.
Some peppery heat and cloudy apple juice at first. The slightly bitter notes of apple seeds, with mineral notes like iron and granite come through next. Rather mellow, but with subtle notes and complexity.
The finish is a lot dryer than the palate, with corky apple. Quite a lot less crisp than the nose.
Good stuff and a good entry point for the range. It puts the bar reasonably high. Very easy drinking with enough complexity to stay interesting for a while.
Marquis de la Pomme 30 years old, 42%, btld. 2016
Very heavy, without being overly woody. The fruit is suppressed by the oak, but it’s not ‘only’ oak you get. There’s a very old school distillate scent to it. With some time almost all fruit goes away.
The palate is, again, very wood driven, but very very gentle and smooth. There’s a tad of fruitiness behind it, but hardly recognizable as apple. Except for the fact that it lacks the weight of grapes.
The finish is slightly lighter with a whiff of dried apple peels, but otherwise still mostly good quality oak.
Very nice to see that the brandy itself can stand up to more time in wood, compared to the 20 years old. It has added a lot more wood influenced flavors, obviously, and the apple is still present, but is starting to become quite timid.
Marquis de la Pomme 1972-2011, 42%
Lots of oak and lots of fruit. Strikes quite a nice balance. Quite intense, with lots of apple and a hint of copper.
Again, that hint of copper, but after that there’s heaps of crispy apple, dry apple cider, flowery blossom. Later I get dry oak planks and some black pepper.
A long finish that goes full on the coppery fruity notes of brandy. Lots of apple with some sawdust and cinnamon.
This is absolutely cracking stuff and quite a step up from the 30 years old, even though it’s roughly the same age. It seems that a more limited edition like gets a different approach than the ‘regular’ one.
Marquis de la Pomme 1971-2007, 42%
Warming and pastry like, with hints of cinnamon, apple pie. Quite bitter, with some almond hints, but mostly apple seeds and cores.
Sweeter, rather bitter, nutty and woody. Very dry with huge layers of oak, almonds. Apart from that, it’s a tad thin in other flavors. Apples, apple cores.
The finish brings a lot of cider like flavors, with much more apply sweetness. Some bitterness. It quickly mellows, apple wood.
Compared to the 1972, this isn’t ‘as special’ with the Calvados having less depth and complexity. It’s very apple forward, and doesn’t strike the same balance as some of the others.
Marquis de la Pomme 1968-2011, 42%
Proper, gentle Calvados. Not overpowered by oak and with loads of apples, and dried apple peel, specifically. A whiff of glue, some oak, lots of wood spices like cinnamon.
Very dry, with corky apple and some peppery heat from the alcohol and oak. Especially dry apple, peels, seeds. Quite some bitterness.
The finish gives a bit of a kick before going down very warmly and comforting. More apple and very fruit driven. Quite some oak, but it keeps playing second fiddle.
Glorious, old and big. Not overly complex, but a great combination of fruit and wood. Strangely, the addition of the cinnamon and glue notes give it a bit more depth and ‘weight’.
Marquis de la Pomme 1956-2014, 42%
Dry and very fruity on the nose. Apple, obviously, but lesser hints of star fruit and pear. Quite some very gentle oak. Very crisp, with ‘snowy air’, if that’s a thing.
The palate is light, crisp and fruity. It takes a while before the dryness and oak come through. Fresh oak, with a sharp edge, even after 58 years in a cask.
The finish blasts the dryness to a whole new level, with much more oak, and dried apple, dried pear. Even some woody spices. Thyme twigs, cinnamon.
As with the 1968, this one is awesome. Even though it’s older, it has more complexity than any of the previous ones. I would say this was either a more intense batch of brandy or a bunch of ‘lazier’ casks.
After dabbling in some gin, mezcal, and with a few bottles of rum open for an upcoming tasting, I have the intention to refocus on whisky, since that’s where the core of my booze-fanaticism lies. However, after posting these notes, and remember the joy these brought when tasting them, I want some more Calvados too.
I might have to keep this in mind for the upcoming summer holiday to Bretagne (again). There’s bound to be some nice bottle shops where I can find a bottle or two. Or three.