Here is my second Calvados review. For the first, and for a bunch of disclaimers about the status of my Calvados reviews, see here. I was not a big fan of that Domaine Hubert from K&L. I purchased this Lemorton Reserve from K&L as well but it is not exclusive to them. K&L’s site describes this as a six year old too, but, as with the Hubert, there’s no age statement anywhere on the label, and elsewhere I have seen it referred to as a five year old. And the website of the importer, Charles Neal (who is also one of the pre-eminent authorities on Calvados), also mentions a five year old but not a six year old blend (let me take this opportunity to again recommend Charles Neal’s massive guide, Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy). I’m not sure why there has to apparently be so much mystery/confusion about the age of Calvados. Or is this merely my Scotch whisky conditioning further revealing itself?
Lemorton is from the Domfrontais region of Calvados production. In this region pears are are a major component of the Calvados. Until relatively recently I didn’t even know that pears were used to make Calvados but in Domfrontais it is required that at least 30% of the cider distilled into Calvados be made from pears (whereas in the Pays D’Auge it can be at most 30%). Many producers go even higher and this Lemorton is apparently made with 70% pear cider (I’m not sure if this is true of all Calvados produced by Lemorton). So it would appear to be more pear brandy than apple brandy. Domfrontais also differs from Pays D’Auge in that its Calvados is single distilled, usually in a column still (as opposed to double distillation in alembic stills in Pays D’Auge)—and as per the back label that is how this Lemorton is produced, in a column still heated by firewood, it says, with the entirety of production taking place on the property.
I do have one major complaint about this bottle and that is about the hard wax that encloses the cork. It was all but impossible to get off. The fact that I managed to get enough of it off to be able to open the bottle without doing major bloody injury to myself is a small miracle.
Lemorton Reserve (40%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Rich apple notes, both fresh tart-sweet apple and apple pie with a buttery crust; some toffee and some brown sugar as well, and just a bit of cinnamon.
Palate: Brighter than the nose but otherwise very much in that vein. The rich flavours are matched by a satiny texture. On the second sip it gets more cidery and there’s a bit of citrus as well—between orange and lemon liqueur. Gets a bit more tart with time and a bit spicier too. With more time it all begins to thin out a bit.
Finish: Short-medium. Nothing new here but also no deterioration. As on the palate with time.
Comments: This is so much better than the Hubert—there are no raw, spirity notes here and nothing bitter or astringent. I know this has a fair bit of pear in it but somehow it seems to have the effect of accentuating the apple notes. Is it the case that the pear rounds out the spirit and provides more of a frame for the apple? As I am the Jon Snow of Calvados—that is to say, I know nothing, not to say that I rush headlong into combat, disregarding my own battle strategy—I will say only that more research is needed before anything approaching a confident hypothesis can be advanced. At any rate, though I did like this a lot more than the Hubert I would say that this is not one to linger over too long, as the pleasures are strongest when it’s first poured (which, again, for all I know, may be true of Calvados generally).
Rating: 84 points.