What is the secret of Roger Groult? How did French workers start their day with Calvados? How and why do they drink Calvados? The heir to the family business told us about this and many other things.
Five generations: the history and philosophy of the Roger Groult
– First of all, please tell us about the history of your family company. How did it happen that you started producing Calvados?
“Our Grult family has eight generations. We had a big farm where we kept cows to give us milk, where we grew crops and more. Of course, cider was also produced. True, not for business, but for their own needs – it was a daily drink for the family, workers and neighbors. In the years 1850-1860, my great-great-grandfather Pierre Grult began distilling cider to make Calvados. At first, the consignments of products were very small, but over time, interest grew from friends, neighbors, and just acquaintances. Calvados was really good, so production had to be increased every year. In 1893, Calvados Pierre Grulta brought its owner the first gold medal – then it was decided to develop his business. Since then, as many as five generations of Grults have worked on the production of Calvados on their family estate, and for all these people this production has become the main business of their lives.
Domaine Roger Groult
– Tell us about the production philosophy. How is Roger Groult different from other Calvados producers?
– We focus on quality, not quantity. I mean, we will never follow fashion trends like new barrels, automatic distillation and so on, but we will keep our quality rules. For example, our gardens are still supported by natural methods: we never use chemicals or anything like that for fertilization – only dung from cows that eat grass. For centuries we have been using traditional apple varieties from Pays d’Auge (the most famous area in Normandy – AI). Apple juice ferments naturally, we don’t add anything to it to make cider. Then we do a double distillation over a wood fire – this is very slow and time-consuming, but the big advantage is that we keep only the best part of the distillation in the final product. We also carry out the filling ourselves – in this way we manage all stages of production.
– How has Roger Groult taste changed over time? Describe the evolution of taste from 1892 to 2015.
A few weeks ago I tasted a vintage Calvados made in 1893 by my great-great-grandfather Pierre Grult. It was a historic moment! Not quite the same as now – then Calvados had a pronounced wooden scent. Probably higher quality bottles were used – the taste was actually somewhat “rustic”. Now, thanks to a special mixing method, our Calvados has a more elegant and fruity taste.
– Uncover the secrets behind the production of your signature Calvados. What do you need to do to get a really tasty drink?
– Respect the fruit! The process of making calvados is time consuming, but you should only juice the apples when they are really ripe, and not try to do so sooner. The waiting period before distillation is important in order to obtain a cider that has a good structure and at the same time is not too young. One of the main secrets is not to try to change the natural taste of Calvados. We don’t want to make a copy of rum or whiskey – our product has its own personality. You understand, I won’t say anything more about production secrets! (Smiles) “respect for fruits, elegance, sweetness – this is how I can describe our products in three words.”
Domaine Roger Groult Apple Orchards
– Fans of Calvados – what are they?
– Now we notice how different our fans are. But several groups can be distinguished. First, Calvados is a trendy drink. In popular cocktail bars you can always find a cocktail with Calvados. The fact is that a small, authentic production makes this product very attractive, and thanks to its fruity taste, it becomes an excellent ingredient for mixing. Thus, Calvados is gaining more and more popularity – and this is great news for us. Secondly, these are traditional fans – people inclined to epicureanism, who love the elegance of Calvados. Someone, of course, wants to surprise friends and family by treating them not to traditional and world-famous drinks like cognac or whiskey, but to exquisite and fashionable Calvados. We have room to grow – in the fact that our product is still unknown to the whole world, I see great opportunities. How and why do they drink Calvados
– Is there a tradition of drinking Commissioner Maigret’s favorite drink? How to drink Calvados correctly? Tell us more about the concept of le trou Normand (“Normandy hole”).
– Many centuries ago, Calvados was invented for workers – they drank it in the morning with hot water or without it to increase their activity before leaving for work. Today Calvados is consumed after meals. In Normandy there is an ancient tradition – le trou Normand: when eating for a long time, between fish and meat, people drink Calvados to improve digestion. And I also think that in fact, Calvados is more pleasant to drink with meals, without waiting for the completion of the meal.
Domaine Roger Groult cellars
– By the way, about the beneficial properties of Calvados – name a few of them. We have heard a lot about the usefulness of wine, cognac, vodka, and what can Calvados boast about in this regard?
– Like apples, Calvados has antioxidant properties, which means it reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular and a number of neurological diseases. Then – in comparison with other brown, that is, aged, alcohols, as I mentioned, it has the most interesting effect on improving the digestive system.