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ELABORATION OF CALVADOS

Mixing

The cider apples are washed in clear water, crushed and pressed to retrieve the juice that will ferment at a later stage. The crushed apples were used in the past to feed cattle. Today, animal feed is just a small part of possible outlets: the apple has become modernized, the dehydrated marc is sold and used, among other things, for the manufacturing of cosmetic products.

FERMENTATION

The juice obtained from the press is placed in vats for 3 to 6 months. under the action of yeast, it ferments to become cider. This means that the sugar slowly becomes ethanol (alcohol). No yeast is added, as the yeast is naturally present in the skin of fruits. the duration of fermentation is unpredictable, depending essentially on climatic conditions. The milder the winter, the more rapid the fermentation and inversely. Even though the cider is not destined to be sold under this form, its’ quality is essential to ensure the quality of aromas in the future calvados. The cellar master decides to commence the distillation when all the sugar has transformed into alcohol: the cider contains approximately 6% alcohol.

DISTILLATION

From January to June, an aroma of warm apples floats in the air, after staying several months in the coolness of the cellar, the cider is finally distilled. This operation consists of heating the cider then leaving to condensate to recuperate only the ethanol and a part of the aromatic molecules.

2 methods of distillation exist:

  • the column still is used for the AOC Calvados as it has the advantage of being rapid and functions continually.
  • the traditional double distillation copper still is used for the AOC Calvados Pays d’Auge. It carries this name as the distillation occurs in two steps. The first distillation (which lasts between 7 and 8 hours) gives the “petits eaux” and contains alcohol levels at approximately 35%, a second distillation which lasts longer (between 11 and 12 hours) to obtain the calvados. In this more traditional still, the distillations last between 18 to 20 hours and the most prestigious calvados are obtained.


FERMENTATION

The calvados contains alcohol levels of approximately 70% upon leaving the still. It cannot be bottled before a minimum of 2 years. During this period, the calvados evolves and enhances in aromas; over the years the floral and fruity notes fade in favor of touches of almond, vanilla and dried fruit, then ripe fruit, licorice and woody aromas.

The Calvados Busnel have the particularity of not being very woody, as by his expertise, our master cellar prefers to showcase the rest of the bouquet. In fact, when the wood is too pronounced it can mask the other aromas, limiting the subtlety of tasting.

At the end of the process, the calvados always stems from blending (except for the millésime).

Blending is a key step to the elaboration of calvados; during which the master cellar precisely chooses the calvados he wishes to blend. From the blending emerges the distinctive calvados from the Busnel House. The elaboration ends in the bottle. At this stage, the calvados ageing truly ends as it can be conserved numerous years without alteration.