A bit about Calvados.

A bit about Calvados.

A bit about Calvados.

What apples are needed for making Calvados?

To make original Calvados, specially bred 48 varieties of Normandy apples are used. Through selection, these fruits have acquired distinctive taste characteristics due to an increased content of tannins. Apples for each type of Calvados are selected in different proportions, which are a commercial secret for each producer.

For the ready drink to have a deep and rich bouquet, you will need apples with a specific balance of sweetness and acidity. There are several recommended recipes for a classic Calvados combination:

  • 40% sweet apples, 20% acidic, and 20% with bitter notes.

  • 70% sweet and sour fruits, 20% acidic, 2–3% sweet, and the rest – bitter.

Late autumn varieties of apples are best suited for Calvados. Horticultural apple varieties are more suitable for Calvados than dessert varieties, as the latter have too few tannins, resulting in a bland and weak cider. It is essential to choose firm but not overripe apples. Windfalls are absolutely unsuitable for Calvados.

Pears can be added to Calvados, up to 15% of the total raw material volume.

Stages of preparation:

The apples prepared for Calvados need to be sorted, removing spoiled and overripe ones, as well as stems and leaves. Washing the apples is not necessary to avoid washing away wild natural yeast from the peel. If the fruits are heavily soiled, they can be wiped with a damp cloth.

Only dry fruits are used for processing. If apples get wet, they should be spread out to dry.

How to grind apples for Calvados:

The prepared apples need to be ground. It's unlikely that you will be able to do this manually or with a kitchen processor effectively. For fast and, most importantly, uniform grinding, it is best to use a special fruit and vegetable crusher. There are many of them available, both manual and electric, so choosing a suitable one should not be difficult.

Primary fermentation and pressing:

The crushed raw material is placed in a large container without a hydrolock for fermentation on pomace, during which maceration occurs. Usually, grape must undergoes maceration, but as you can see, this stage is also present in Calvados production. It is necessary for the juice to absorb aromatic and volatile compounds from the peel, seeds, and internal partitions of apple fruits. Primary fermentation on pomace takes about 4–5 days. After this, the raw material is sent under a press to separate the juice.

Here, I recommend not relying on your own strength but using special equipment if your goal is to make good craft Calvados. The juice should be squeezed thoroughly, almost completely. The press is the best and fastest way to achieve this.

Secondary Fermentation:

According to the classical technology, the fermentation of apple juice allows only natural fermentation without the addition of activators and sugar. It takes place in large containers and lasts from 6 weeks to 3 months. In our circumstances, we replace this stage with a regular secondary fermentation, at least because it is not always possible to trace the origin of all the raw materials for Calvados. It is entirely possible that there may be apples treated with a wax mixture. There are simply no natural yeasts on the fruit peel.

So, the juice is pressed, and the fermentation stage begins. To ensure that the process proceeds with the required activity, I do not recommend relying on natural yeasts. It is better to use special wine yeast.

The process is similar to that of regular fruit mash. The rehydrated yeast is added to the juice, and the mash is left in a container with a hydrolock for fermentation at a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius. After 12–14 days, the life cycle of the yeast colony will be complete, and fermentation will end.

After fermentation is complete, you will have natural apple cider with an alcohol content of about 6 degrees. This serves as the initial form of Calvados.

To Age or Not to Age?

If you want to make Calvados using the classical French method, then the cider should be aged for up to a year at a low temperature. If you want to save time, you can distill Calvados immediately without delaying the process.

You can try different options – with aging and without it – and make your own decision. After all, making Calvados does not require haste, so don't be afraid to experiment.



One of the most crucial and responsible stages in Calvados production is the distillation of the obtained apple wine, also known as cider. The best method is distillation in a copper alembic. Copper precipitates sulfur oxide, which is present in any fruit mash. As a result, the resulting distillate has a clean, natural taste. By the way, Calvados is produced through distillation in copper stills in French distilleries as well.

Using a copper alembic for distillation allows you to obtain a drink that is closest in taste to the original Calvados.

When does the distillate become Calvados?

Even a very high-quality distillate is not yet Calvados. To turn it into a true noble beverage, apple spirit needs to be aged in oak barrels.

It's crucial to choose the right container for aging, ideally an oak barrel. French or Slavonian oak is preferred. The distillate is aged in such a barrel for at least 2 years. During this time, it gains an amber color and a distinctive, incomparable aroma. Inhaling it, you'll involuntarily recall sun-warmed rosy apples, silky grass under bare feet, and the myriad songs of birds under the generous summer sky.

However, if there are difficulties with oak barrels, Calvados can be aged in a glass container with the addition of oak chips. But I'll say it right away – this option falls short of aging in a real oak barrel.

Several technological tricks are used to make good Calvados:

  • New spirits are aged in new oak barrels, while old spirits are transferred to barrels with a history that have been used for more than one year.

  • Calvados is always blended, meaning spirits of different years and different ages are mixed. The secret of these blends is fiercely guarded by generations of producers.


Posted on 2023-12-13 by A bit about Calvados 0 142

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