C. Drouin From Normandy (Pays d'Auge), France

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

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

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