If this Calvados has a bit of a mouthful of a name it’s because it has a complicated origin. It was bottled by Eric Bordelet, who makes Calvados but it wasn’t distilled by him. Henri Beudin is apparently his neighbour. Beudin does not, however, make an appearance in Charles Neal’s great book on and guide to Calvados (which is rather comprehensive and which, again, everyone should buy). This suggests that Beudin is not a regular Calvados producer. Bordelet, however, is in the book, but at time of publishing (in 2011) he was not yet bottling his own Calvados, “as he feels many of his spirits are still too young” (Neal, 562). He is a renowned maker of cider, however, and I’ve heard very good things about his cider, some of which is available in the US. Bordelet, and presumably his neighbour, Beudin, are in the Domfrontais region but Neal reports that Bordelet double-distills his Calvados—I’m not sure if this is true of Beudin as well. If someone who has a bottle could clarify if this is mentioned on the label (or if the Domfrontais appellation is used, which would require single distillation) that would be great. All I have is this sample, which Sku kindly shared with me—he really liked it and I’m interested to see what I make of it. At 18 years of age, it’s the oldest Calvados I’ve yet had.
Henri Bernard Beudin 18 yo Calvados, Eric Bordelet Selection (53% abv; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Wow, this is massive: polished wood, varnish, wood glue, baked apple, over-ripe banana. Gets brighter and a bit dustier as it sits; some floral notes too now and some of the incense-like notes that show up on the palate. With a lot of time the apple becomes almost imperceptible—more apricot now, I’d say, with spicy, dusty wood.
Palate: Leads with the apple here and then there’s the wood and some orange peel and then a spicy note that’s close to incense: cinnamon, rose, a bit of sandalwood. Thick, oily texture. Gets drier and woodier as it goes and the sandalwood expands.
Finish: Long. The sweet spices get drier and there’s more salt here too.
Comments: I don’t know how typical this is for older Calvados but on the nose this is an entirely different category of spirit than the younger ones I’ve reviewed so far: the apple is almost a secondary note on the nose.In fact, it’s more reminiscent there at first of older refill-sherry matured malt whiskies and then of red wine-finished malts (but without the “artificial” quality that plagues so many of those) and bourbon. It’s also closer to wine-based brandy. A lot more apple on the palate but then that red-wine finished malt thing shows up there too. I like it but I can’t say I’d reach for it when I want what I currently associate with Calvados.
Is it worth it at $115 for 375 ml? I wouldn’t say that for the Yamazaki 18 (which is now at $250 for a 750 ml bottle and which I like more) and so I can’t bring myself to say that here. It does appear that there’s even older Calvados from reputed producers available for less. In fact, next week I’ll have a review of an even older Lemorton which costs about the same.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!
The bottle says “a single distillation” but I’m not sure whether that means it was distilled once or that all the Calvados in the bottle came from the same distillation. I would guess the latter.
Bordelet’s ciders are indeed very good. I highly recommend the Tendre cider and the Poire l’Authentique (the Granit Poire is also very good but is very, very similar to the Authentique which is cheaper)
Great review MAO. As you know, this is one of my favorite Calvados.
Beudin is in the general Calvados region, not Domfrontais. It’s located in Antoigny, in the Orne Departement. It’s distilled with a column still and aged in wine casks (which presumably accounts for the wine notes you tasted). I also believe it’s 100% apple.
As for the price, keep in mind that it’s cask strength, whereas Yamazaki 18 is 43%.
Thanks for the additional info, Sku. I guess that means they’re not literally neighbours: Neal does put Bordelet unequivocally in the Domfrontais though he makes clear that Bordelet is a maverick who doesn’t follow the requirements of the apellation and so presumably will not put it on his labels when his Calvados hits the market (if it hasn’t already in France).