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Five of the Most Popular Types of Apple Brandy

apple brandyWhether you call it applejack, calvados or bätzi, apple brandy is a spirit made from fermented and distilled apples.  There are clear, unaged versions and golden-coloured ones that have spent years in oak barrels.  These are five of the most popular:


Historically, applejack was made with North American cider apples and produced using a method called “jacking” or freeze distillation. These days, however, it is typically distilled in column or pot stills and aged in barrels or bottled as a young, clear spirit.  Applejack and apple brandy are by definition the same, but there are minor differences between the apples used, terroir and the ageing process.


A clear brandy made from dried apples which comes from Switzerland’s Obwalden region.  The process of ageing can vary but the duration is usually six months or more.  Bätzi is closely related to another type of Swiss apple brandy, Träsch, but the latter is made with fresh, not dried apples.


Calvados is an apple brandy which must be made with apples from Normandy, France as stated in its Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status.  The apples are fermented into cider, distilled into eau-de-vie, and then aged for at least two years in oak barrels.  Whilst a small number of pears are permissible, the majority of the mix has to come from the region’s very many apple varieties.

Eau-de-Vie de Pomme

Crisp and water-clear, eau-de-vie is a broad category of brandy that can be made from pretty much any fruit. It’s produced in much of Europe as well as the U.S.  When made from apples, the spirit is called eau-de-vie de pomme.  The apples are fermented into cider before being distilled, often (but not always) in a copper pot still.  Eau-de-vie is generally unaged.


Hailing from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, this is a clear, unaged spirit. As with calvados, it is not always exclusively made from apples; Obstler can contain a variety and larger quantities of other fruits in its mix.  Apple and pear obstler is common, but there are also varieties made with apples and plums, apricots and cherries.

Calvados, The Modern, Sustainable Spirit

spiritCalvados has long been the underdog of French spirits.  “Even in France, people quite liked it, but the image was dusty and old fashioned,” says Xavier d’Audiffret Pasquier, co-founder of Maison Sassy. “Our mission is to bring calvados back to life. We want to almost promote calvados like a gin, as a very modern spirit.”

Outside France, calvados has always been popular was the bartending community.  Tim Etherington-Judge says “First, it’s delicious. It has a very approachable flavour profile, not complex like a mezcal. But also, as a cocktail nerd, if you go back to some of the historical cocktail books, like The Savoy Cocktail Book or The Flowing Bowl, calvados is a regularly used ingredient.”  Coupette is a calvados bar in London that is helping to introduce the spirit to a new generation of fans.  Their most famous cocktail creation is named Apples, and the recipe is simple.  Each month a different calvados is mixed with the juice from a different variety of apple and carbonated. The result is stunning and in 2019 was named Cocktail of the Year.

The scope for calvados to continue to modernise is immense now that every spirit brand aims to brag about is sustainability credentials.  In a 2021 report by Business Wire, 85% of people indicated they had shifted their purchase behaviour to be more sustainable in the last five years.  There is no doubt that calvados has a case for being the world’s most sustainable spirit. This is what Etherington-Judge set out to create and Avallen was the result.  “We went right back to the raw materials that are used to create alcohols and instead of using the usual metrics of cost and flavour, we put the environment first. Based on four metrics – carbon emissions, biodiversity, water consumption and pesticide and fertiliser use – we analysed the ingredients and that research led us to apples.  The trees are carbon sinks, they support biodiversity in the traditional orchards of Normandy, there is no artificial irrigation, and there’s very little pesticide and fertiliser use within the orchard. From an environmental perspective, the orchards of Normandy are fantastic.”

We at Brandyclassics have searched high and low to find an exceptional calvados brand to champion and the result is Toutain.  Full of appley flavours, it’s the best we have ever tasted.

Read the full article on Modernising Calvados, written in Drinks International here.

Calvados – Apple Brandy – The Forgotten Treasure?

calvados is apple brandy Calvados really is the finest example of apple brandy so it is a mystery that it isn’t more popular.  Traditionally rustic, being based on the common old farmyard apple rather than the noble grape, perhaps it is too old fashioned for the influential trendsetters?  And what about geography?  Normandy is poorer and more rural than the elitist areas of Champagne and Cognac. The region staged countless wars and its fields are the final resting place of thousands of young men.  But the trend is gradually changing.  New calvados embassies are opening across the world. Indeed, official figures show that in 2017, 57% of the 6m bottles of calvados sold were exported.  Its popularity as a cocktail ingredient has certainly helped.  One of London’s most stylish and up-and-coming bars, Coupette, puts calvados cocktails at the very heart of its menu.  What is a surprise though is that mixologists are using not just calvados from the top cru, Pays D’Auge, but aged and more expensive vintages too. Calvados is a delicious, versatile and refreshing spirit. It goes well with food, tastes good neat, and can be the base for sophisticated cocktails.