Calvados Boulard Pays d’Auge VSOP ($45): All of the apples used for Calvados Boulard are harvested from orchards located in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy. Everything undergoes a double distillation process followed by several years of aging in French oak. Final blends are culled from brandies of different ages and from different sites. Founded in 1825, Calvados Boulard is a family producer 5 generations into their history. They’re recognized as one of the leading Apple Brandy producers out there. In 2015 they were named the Calvados Distillery of the year at the NY Spirits Competition. Their range includes 4 distinct expressions. The VSOP is their entry level Brand. It’s also available in 200ml flask size packaging ($20).

Hints of fruitcake spice, toast and bright orchard fruit are all evident on the nose. Droves of baked apple characteristics are joined by spices such nutmeg and vanilla bean on the flavorful and well-proportioned palate. The finish is layered and gentle with continuing orchard fruits, particularly golden delicious apple, spices and a final dollop of toasty oak.

The Calvados Boulard VSOP works well sipped neat in a snifter, but it also makes for a lovely cocktail component. After experimenting with several classic recipes I found that my favorite use of Calvados Boulard VSOP is in a Manhattan.

Apple Brandy Manhattan

2 Parts Calvados Boulard VSOP
1 Part Red Vermouth
A Dash of Angostura Bitters
Orange Zest

Mix all of the ingredients together briefly in a shaker. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy.