Hotaling & Co.

Hotaling & Co.

C. Drouin

Normandy (Pays d'Auge), France

Extensive Vintage Stocks Are The Backbone of This Classic Pays d'Auge Calvados

A Country House in Normandy

Calvados has been in production for more than 400 years, but C. Drouin Calvados began rather unintentionally around 1960. Christian Drouin Sr., grandfather to the current head of the company Guillaume Drouin, purchased a country house in the Pays d'Auge area of Normandy in 1960. The house sat on a farm with an apple orchard, and Drouin Sr. harvested the apples on his estate in hopes of seeing a return. He was disappointed to find that the price for apples was so low that he wouldn't even recoup his harvesting expenses, so he held onto his fruit and sought an alternative solution.

Drouin Sr.'s friend, Pierre Pivet, had a mobile still and would travel to various farms to distill cider into calvados. This friend agreed to advise Drouin Sr. on pressing his apples into cider and distilling the cider into calvados, teaching him the art of making calvados from start to finish. Thanks to Pivet, even the earliest vintages of calvados produced were of a consistent and high quality.

The Next Generation Takes Drouin Calvados to Market

Drouin Sr. made calvados year after year, but was too busy to establish the sales and distribution network to get it out into the market, so his stocks continued to mature in the cellars. After twenty years of this, his son, Christian Drouin, set out to bring the company to life with sales and distribution. The calvados stocks in the cellars had never been blended together, so individual vintages remained in separate casks and were available to use for blending and single vintage bottling. At the time, calvados was not viewed as a high-end spirit on par with cognac, and it was largely consumed in France and neighboring countries. Drouin wanted to change that, and worked to get his calvados into Michelin-starred restaurants and the best bars to help elevate the category.

The C. Drouin Estates

The original farm was used exclusively for production until 1990, when a second estate was purchased nearby. Today, about half the apples used for C. Drouin calvados come from the 20 hectare orchard at the original farm, and the other half are sourced from five nearby growers that have a long relationship with Drouin family. Thirty different varieties of apples are used, falling into four categories: sweet, bittersweet, bitter and acidic. Different varieties ripen at different times between late summer and early winter, so apples are stored until the proper mix has been achieved. Then the various varieties from each of the categories are blended together and pressed into cider simultaneously. The cider is all pressed at the original farm, with wild yeast fermentation taking place at both properties in a combination of 100+ year-old wooden vats, stainless steel tanks and concrete tanks. All distillation takes place at the new estate. There is a total of three stills. The original mobile pot still from 1946, which was designed and operated by Pierre Pivet, continues to be used. There are two stills on the mobile platform, heated by direct fire, and a third, charentes-style still has also added to expand production. Maturation in a diverse range of previously used barrels takes place on both properties, though reconditioned ex-Bordeaux barrels from top chateaux are used the most.


C. Drouin Sélection Calvados
C. Drouin Sélection Calvados

Unlike the rest of the C. Drouin Calvados, which are Calvados Pays d'Auge AOC, Sélection is bottled under Calvados AOC and uses both apples and pears from the Domfront region. It is distilled using a column still and emphasizes fresh fruit notes and a lighter style that is exceptional for use in cocktails. 40% ABV

  • 93 Points, Finalist, Great Value | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016
  • 91 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2014
  • 85 Points | Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2013
  • "Among the large houses are more focused producers like C. Drouin... kind of Billecart-Salmon to Boulard's Veuve Clicquot, to put it in Champagne terms. Drouin's Calvados are always excellent, even inexpensive bottles like the Sélection." - Eric Asimov, New York Times
Pays d'Auge Calvados

The core of C. Drouin Calvados is of the Pays d'Auge AOC. Pays d'Auge is the oldest AOC for calvados, and was established in 1942. By law, calvados from this appellation must be double distilled using a pot still and aged a minimum of two years. A small percentage of pears can be used, but C. Drouin does not use pears in its Pays d'Auge bottlings.

Christain Drouin VSOP Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin VSOP Pays d'Auge Calvados

Aged 5 to 12 years. Ninety percent of maturation takes place in ex-Bordeaux, and the remaining 10% happens in ex-port, ex-sherry and ex-banyuls casks. This expression starts moving away from the fresher fruit flavors towards baked apple and spices. 40% ABV

  • 91 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2014
  • Silver Medal | San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2013
  • Silver Medal | International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013
C. Drouin XO Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin XO Pays d'Auge Calvados

Aging is similar to the VSOP, though maturation includes former cognac casks, bringing more spice and complexity with notes of almond and flowers. 40% ABV

  • 88 Points | Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2014
  • 92 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2014
  • Silver Medal | Bruxelles World Mond Selection 2013
C. Drouin Hors d'Age Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin Hors d'Age Pays d'Auge Calvados

Aged 15+ years and one of the signatures of C. Drouin. Significant usage of ex-cognac casks emphasizes deep, rich notes of orange peel, baking spices and apple pie. 42% ABV

  • 95 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2013
  • Silver Medal | Vinalies Internationales 2013
  • 88 Points | Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2010
  • "A thrilling, top-drawer Pays d'Auge Calvados that smells and tastes of baked apple strudel and baked pear...hard to find anymore but worth the search." - F. Paul Pacult, The Spirit Journal
C. Drouin 25 Year Old Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin 25 Year Old Pays d'Auge Calvados

42% ABV

  • 90 Points | Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2014
  • 96 Points, Chairman's Trophy | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2012
  • Bronze Medal | Vinalies Internationales 2003
C. Drouin 'Pomme Prisonnière' Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin 'Pomme Prisonnière' Pays d'Auge Calvados

C. Drouin has given a traditional favorite new life by substituting a boskoop apple instead of a pear inside the bottle with Pays d'Auge Calvados. Boskoops preserve better in calvados than any other type. It is harder to grow an apple in a bottle than it is a pear, because apple trees drop much of their crop as the fruit develops. Less than half of the bottles end up with an apple inside, thus making Pomme Prisonnière extremely limited. 40% ABV

C. Drouin Réserve des Fiefs Pays d'Auge Calvados
C. Drouin Réserve des Fiefs Pays d'Auge Calvados

C. Drouin's Réserve de Fiefs is a blended Calvados of different distilled ciders aged for more than 4 years. Golden yellow, fruit and flower aromas, delicately oaked. 40% ABV

  • 91 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2015
C. Drouin Le Gin
C. Drouin Le Gin

Double distilled in small copper pot stills, Le Gin is a harmonious blend of eight exotic botanicals and 30 varieties of apples found on the Christian Drouin estate. 42% ABV

  • Gold Medal | World Gin Awards 2019
  • Gold Medal | American Distilling Institute 2018
  • Gold Medal | San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018
C. Drouin Blanche de Normandie
C. Drouin Blanche de Normandie

With a nod to the traditions of Normandy, this apple brandy is double distilled and allowed to rest in stainless steel tanks for 18 months. Water is gradually added to bring down to proof and to gently aerate, helping the spirit become rounder and smoother. Blanche de Normandie harnesses a lively fresh apple fragrance and is well-suited for use in cocktails. 40% ABV

  • "Top 50 Spirits of 2007" | Wine Enthusiast 2007
C. Drouin Pommeau de Normandie
C. Drouin Pommeau de Normandie

Pommeau de Normandie is the harmonious combination of apple juice and calvados, in which the apple juice is mixed before fermentation with calvados in the proportion of ¾ juice to ¼ calvados. C. Drouin uses primarily bitter apples to make Pommeau de Normandie. The mellowness of C. Drouin pommeau is the result of aging in oak casks for three to four years, with blends typically ranging from three to 10 years. 17% ABV

  • "Pommeau de Normandie is exuberantly fruity, slips down the throat far too easily given its 17% alcohol content, and once in the mouth, its freshness as well as its aroma of baked apples and buttery brown sugar are quite fascinating." - Robert M. Parker, Jr.
C. Drouin Vintage Calvados 1964
C. Drouin Vintage Calavados

C. Drouin hosts the world's largest selection of single vintage calvados. The date on the bottle is the year of distillation, and blending with older calvados is not permitted. Apples harvested from October to December are distilled in the next calendar year. The bottle shows the years of bottling and of harvest. C. Drouin takes particular care in selecting the casks for aging the rich full-bodied ciders, as this ultimately determines the quality and breeding of a first-class calvados. The barrel designation is noted accordingly. All Vintage Selections Are 42% ABV

  • Calvados 1939
  • Calvados 1958
  • Calvados 1959
  • Calvados 1963
  • Calvados 1964
  • Calvados 1972
  • Calvados 1978
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1970
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1973
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1974
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1975
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1977
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1979
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1980
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1984
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1986
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1987
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1988
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1989
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1990
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1991
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1992
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1993
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1994
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1995
  • Calvados Pays d'Auge 1996
  • 94 Points | Gilbert & Gaillard Guide 2014
  • 91 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2014
  • 93 Points | Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2014