I recently wrote a few lines about Calvados from Maison Coquerel and in the course of this article I also reviewed the Calvados Coquerel VSOP and the Calvados Coquerel XO. Of course I also described two cocktails, the Princess Pride and a slightly upgraded Calvados Sour, which really are an excellent way to enjoy Calvados in a cocktail. Today I will once again talk about Calvados from Maison Coquerel, about three special bottlings to be precise, each with very interesting profiles. (provided test products)*
For background information about the manufacturer I simply refer to the article linked above. Therefore I directly want to go into medias res and take a closer look at the three limited bottles. There is the Calvados Coquerel Bourbon Finish, the Calvados Coquerel Pommeau Finish and the Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask. Today I would like to start with the Calvados Coquerel Bourbon Finish. This one is a blend of different Calvados, which were distilled on copper pot stills, then aged between four and seven years in oak barrels and finally finished for 14 months in former Bourbon barrels. With an abv of 41% vol., they finally arrive in a beautifully shaped, heavy glass bottle, which is decorated with a appealing label on which we see the drawing of an apple tree, whose crown bears fruit and whose roots enclose some Calvados barrels. In addition to information on the bottle number and batch, we also find out the minimum age of the calvados contained in the bottle (which is four years).
Tasting Notes Calvados Coquerel Bourbon Finish:
Aroma: Sweet, ripe apples with fresh and fruity notes, directly followed by the expected vanilla, which is very fine and smooth, almost like in a stewed apple compote cooked with spices. In general: “Apple compote with vanilla, slight hints of cloves, a touch of lemon peel and a little honey” describes the aroma of this calvados very well. Oak notes are very restrained and at best stand out discreetly in the background – and that only after a while.
Taste: I stick to it: stewed apple on the palate, too! Again very nice spices and a ripe, sweet apple with vanilla, honey and also some milk chocolate. The cloves come through, again I also find a nuance of citrus fruit and also some dry oak. I like it very much!
Finish: surprisingly dry with spices, nuts and fine vanilla, medium long
The second bottle is the Calvados Coquerel Pommeau Finish. This is also a blend of pot still-made Calvados with a minimum age of seven years (as indicated directly on the label). The special feature here is the finish in pommeau barrels. But what is a pommeau barrel anyway? Pommeau is an aperitif or digestif from Normandy, as you can easily find out by googling it. It is basically a liqueur wine and is obtained by blending calvados with unfermented apple juice. After blending, the Pommeau is left to mature for about 30 months in oak barrels. And when these barrels are now emptied, you get former Pommeau barrels. Besides the Norman variant (Pommeau de Normandie), it may also be produced in Maine (Pommeau du Maine) and Brittany (Pommeau de Bretagne). So far, so good! But how does a finish in such barrels affect the taste? I made the following notes during the tasting of this Calvados bottled at an abv of 40% vol:
Tasting Notes Calvados Coquerel Pommeau Finish:
Aroma: Oh yes, compared to the bourbon cask version, this is really something completely different. Of course, a rich apple nose is the first impression, but it turns out to be much more voluminous and less filigree. Above all, it brings a nice, concentrated acidity to the fore, which then combines with spices (cloves, some allspice) and notes of red wine. With time, the acidity gives way to a honey sweetness, which is more reminiscent of dark forest honey. The vanilla tones of the Bourbon barrel variant have receded far into the background, with a slight plus of oak wood.
Taste: Cider and vinous notes are the prelude here: Strongly spiced baked apple (allspice, white pepper, clove), dark grapes and oak wood are also present. The sweetness is much more subtle and reserved than in the bourbon cask variant, and I sometimes have to think about the differences between bourbon and sherry cask-matured whiskies, even if these are really only associations, because of course we are dealing with something different here. Nevertheless: the typical notes of dark fruit and a somewhat more pronounced bitterness make room here. And that reminds me of the typical characteristics of European oak barrels.
Finish: dark berries, oak wood, dry and medium long
And last but not least, there is the Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask. For this very exciting and aged bottling, a total of 900 litres were selected from over 20 different oak barrels of 15 to 20 year old Calvados, which were finally allowed to mature for another half year in former Armagnac and Cognac barrels. Calvados barrels, Armagnac barrels and Cognac barrels, hence the name “Triple Cask”. With an abv of 42%, the Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask finally comes into the bottle. And here I am of course particularly curious!
Tasting Notes Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask:
Aroma: The advanced age of this bottling is immediately noticeable. The apple notes are symbiotically blurred with spice components and a typical oak barrel character, the overall impression is more complex and multi-layered. Allspice, a touch of black cardamom, slight associations of mint and menthol, white pepper, cloves and cinnamon are present. Added to this are woody, ripe notes and hints of cake dough. A very fine but perceptible smoke skilfully rounds off the overall picture. This is really great – and I’m also sure that in a blind tasting by far not everyone here would guess this to be a Calvados!
Taste: On the palate too, this is a multi-layered, spicy and very convincing spirit! Again I find allspice, a little freshly ground pepper, cardamom and nuances of cinnamon. Behind this there is a sweetish note reminiscent of pastry and cake dough, which carries a nice, rich apple potpourri and hints of pears and ripe apricots. All in all beautifully balanced and carried very gently by the 42% vol.; wonderfully complex.
Finish: spicy, fruity with oak notes, long
The drinks I have chosen today are basically of a rather simple but very convincing nature. For one thing, I used the Calvados Coquerel Bourbon Finish together with the Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask in a drink I called “Big Apple”. Although there are countless drinks of this name (some of them are very scary), I found the name simply too tempting given the fact that it is a twist of a New York Sour with Calvados made from apple brandy. Both calvados really work well together here, because the vanilla sweetness of the Bourbon finish and the voluminous oak and spice tones of the Triple Cask create an overall picture that couldn’t easily be created with any other calvados.
Recipe: „Big Apple“:
3.5 cl Calvados Coquerel Triple Cask
2.5 cl Calvados Coquerel Bourbon Finish
3 cl lemon juice
2 cl sugar syrup
2 bar spoons dry red wine
Preparation: Place all ingredients except the red wine in a shaker and do a dry shake without ice first (alternatively whip up with a milk frother). Finally, shake again with ice and strain into a pre-cooled glass. Pour the red wine over the back of a bar spoon ontop of the drink and float.
Glass: Tumbler or Sour
On the other hand there is a really excellent drink from the PDT Bar in New York, which was invented by Jim Meehan in 2007: the Newark Cocktail. It consists of a very exciting combination of Calvados, red vermouth, Fernet Branca and Maraschino. And here I find especially the vinous notes of Calvados Coquerel Pommeau Finish absolutely fantastic! An excellent drink that is without equal!
Recipe “Newark Cocktail” (after Jim Meehan, PDT, 2007)
6 cl Calvados Coquerel Pommeau Finish
3 cl red, Italian vermouth
0,75 cl Fernet Branca
0,75 cl Luxardo Maraschino
Preparation: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass on ice until cold and strain into a pre-cooled glass.
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online